Wed Jul 26 06:39:24 SAST 2017

'I know there's a lot of talk of teams trying to emulate what New Zealand teams do,' says Blues forward coach Jackson

By Craig Ray | 2017-05-18 15:58:35.0

The Stormers have made much of their attempt to morph their game from a set-piece and defence-dominated approach into a more attacking New Zealand-style of play‚ but one New Zealander believes they shouldn’t veer far from their traditional strengths.

Blues forward coach Steve Jackson believes that South African rugby teams trying to copy the New Zealand game‚ could be doing it to the detriment of their own performances.

Of course‚ the Blues take on the Stormers at Newlands on Friday and it could also be part of Jackson’s mind games before the clash.

"South African rugby has still got big men‚" Jackson said.

"You've just got to work to your strengths and that's what we do back home. Our strength is that we've got a lot of guys with flair and who come through our system that can deliver that for us and we play to that.

"I know there's a lot of talk of teams trying to emulate what New Zealand teams do‚ but we're a different kettle of fish to most places.

"Most teams get too excited about playing the New Zealand way. South African teams‚ with born and bred big men‚ should just keep playing up front."

Jackson’s words are not without merit. The Stormers have improved their attack this season scoring 40 tries so far‚ but their defence has fallen apart. They cannot strike a balance.

There are several factors contributing to the defensive system failing‚ and their high tempo‚ attacking style is one of the reasons.

Playing a low percentage pass in a bad area on the field with players in a poor situation is fraught against NZ teams that thrive off turnover possession.

In their four games against Kiwi teams this season the Stormers have won one‚ lost three and conceded 27 tries against the 10 they've scored.

By contrast in the other six matches they’ve played – four against SA teams and one each against the Sunwolves and Jaguares– they’ve won five. In those encounters they’ve scored 30 tries and conceded 17.

It again underlines how ruthless NZ teams are when presented with gilt-edged chances from opposition mistakes.

"The Stormers’ skill set has changed a wee bit.” Jackson said.

They've obviously chanced their arm with the offload and passing the ball‚ but they still haven't gone away from their maul and that will be something they'll be looking for against us.

"The Stormers have some exciting backs with a lot of speed and flair‚ but it's still about a forward pack creating opportunities for backlines."

Blues captain James Parsons admitted that his pack would have to match the Stormers to allow dangerous outside runners such as Sonny Bill Williams‚ George Moala and Rieko Ioane to weave their magic.

“Our pack is under pressure from our coaches to provide good ball for the backs and we make no secret about the skill we have out wide‚” Parsons said. “But they can’t do much without the ball‚ so we put a lot of emphasis on providing it for them.

“The senior guys in the pack put in hours of preparation to make sure that we make the right adjustments week in and week out.

“We’re going pretty well in the set pieces but we know it will be a step up this week against the Stormers locks [Eben Etzebeth and Pieter-Steph du Toit].

“The most pleasing factor is that our two young locks have come in and made the step up. They’re just hungry to scrum‚ and as a front rower with two big boys like Gerard (Cowley-Tuioti) and Scott (Scrafton) screaming and roaring‚ you know you have power behind you.” - TMG Digital/TMG Sport

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