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'How can I say this the right way?': Bok prop addresses Wallabies' gamesmanship

By Ben Smith
Referee Paul Williams points to the spot for the scrum to be taken during The Rugby Championship match between the Australian Wallabies and the South African Springboks at Adelaide Oval on August 27, 2022 in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo by Sue McKay/Getty Images)

Springbok prop Steven Kitshoff played it coy when asked about the gamesmanship on show by the Wallabies in their 25-17 win in Adelaide.

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The referees deemed it necessary to yellow card scrumhalf Faf de Klerk for a swinging arm after Nic White fell to the ground in dramatic fashion.

Another sore talking point was the Wallabies tackling and use of force around the breakdown which South African media and fans took exception too.

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Kitshoff said the Springboks aren’t looking for ‘shortcuts’ and want to play the game within the laws.

“How can I say this the right way? We want to play the game inside the law book, with as much aggression, power, and speed as possible,” Kitshoff told media.

“We never look for shortcuts in any way.

“When games are played, you are trying to get the upper hand as much as possible.

“It all comes down to the referee’s interpretation and the way the ARs [assistant referees] are seeing the game.

“I don’t want to comment on them getting away with certain tricks or tactics.

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“We just want to play a great Test match.”

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The 62-test veteran wanted to persist with the set-piece centric game plan despite the maul not firing in Adelaide.

They were able to draw a number of infringements from the Wallabies to play advantage from but weren’t able to capitalise on those opportunities.

“The big thing for us with mauls is that it is creating a platform to either strike from, kick from or gain points,” he said.

“Looking back at this weekend’s game, even though the maul didn’t get a lot of momentum, we still got six penalty advantages that we could play from.

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“In my opinion, I still feel the maul is a big weapon and a big part of the fundamentals of rugby.

“Even though it doesn’t look like you are gaining 10 to 20 metres, you are still actually creating an opportunity to score three points or getting a free play under a penalty advantage.”

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Jon 1 hours ago
Sam Cane was unfairly cast in Richie McCaw's shadow for too long

> McCaw’s durability and sustained excellence were unique, but we seemed to believe his successors were cut from the same cloth. It’s easy to forget McCaw was just as heavily critiqued for the last two years of his career. The only real difference was his captaining criticisms and his playing criticisms happened at different times, where Cane was criticized for a few things in both areas for all of his last 4 years. This was also heavily influenced by another McCaw esque presence, in Ardie Savea, being in the team and pushed out of his original position. It could be said we essentially didn’t have the 3 prior years with Ardie as world player of the year because he was changing into this new role. I say “original” position as despite him never coming out and saying his desire is to perform his role from, that I know of, clearly as part of a partnership with Cane as 7, I don’t think this was because he really wanted Cane’s playing spot. I think it most likely that it comes down to poor All Black management that those sort of debates weren’t put to bed as being needless and irrelevant. It has been brought up many times in past few months of discussions on articles here at RP, that early calls in WC cycles, to say pigeonhole an All Black team into being required to have a physical dynamo on defence at 7 (and ballplyaer at 8 etc) are detrimental. In the end we did not even come up against a team that threw large bodies at us relentlessly, like why we encountered in the 2019 WC semi final, at all in this last WC. Even then they couldn’t see the real weakness was defending against dynamic attacks (which we didn’t want to/couldn’t give 2019 England credit for) like the Twickenham Boks, and Irish and French sides (even 10 minutes of an English onslaught) that plagued our record and aura the last 4 years. It really is a folly that is the All Blacks own creation, and I think it pure luck, and that Cane was also such a quality All Black, that he was also became an integral part of stopping the side from getting run off the park. Not just rampaged. > The hushed tones, the nods of approval, the continued promotion of this nonsense that these men are somehow supernatural beings. I bet this author was one of those criticizing Cane for coming out and speaking his mind in defence of his team that year. Despite the apparent hypocrisy I agree with the sentiment, but I can only see our last captain as going down the same road his two prior captains, Read and McCaw, have gone. I am really for Cane becoming an extra member to each squad this year, June, RC, and November tours, and he is really someone I can see being able to come back into the role after 3 seasons in Japan. As we saw last year, we would have killed for someone of his quality to have been available rather than calling on someone like Blackadder. Just like the Boks did for 2023.

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