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Boks have a plan to stop Cooper


by super-rugby
Sports

 

The Springboks have a plan to counter Wallaby genius Quade Cooper ahead of this coming weekend’s Rugby World Cup quarterfinal, and they are confident of keeping the playmaker in check. Cooper has been at the forefront of the Wallaby charge, but has also been shown up as Ireland limited his space in the upset last month during the pool stages of the World Cup.  While coach Peter De Villiers said Cooper is dangerous from turnover ball, he did offer a rather different way to stop the Wallaby playmaker – and it’s not by closing his space down.  “He’s dangerous in turnover play and in space. We know that and we saw how Ireland cut off their space and how Samoa cut off their space. This is one area we want to look at – we want to cut off their space and force them to play deeper,” De Villiers said.  But stopping Cooper is something different, and De Villiers wants to offer Cooper too many options, rather than force him to step his way out of trouble.  “If you make Cooper’s decisions for him, then he is very good. If you give him the chance to make his own decisions, then he gets a bit lost. Cooper cant read what happens ahead if you don’t help him make his decisions by the way you defend,” De Villiers explained.  “If you try and stop him behind the advantage line, then he will step past you and use the players to run off him, but as soon as you allow him to make his own decisions, then he is vulnerable.”  Whether De Villiers is right or not will be proven on Saturday night. But one thing is sure, stop Cooper and half the battle is won. superrugby Springbok coach Peter de Villiers welcomed the challenge that the Wallabies will bring for the Boks in their Rugby World Cup quarterfinal this coming Saturday.  De Villiers looked relaxed as he spoke about the prospect of facing Australia, a team which has beaten the Boks twice this year and which will start as favourites for the quarters at the Wellington Regional Stadium on Saturday.  But despite Australia’s loss to Ireland a few weeks back, which set them on a collision course with the Boks, the defending World Cup champions believe their intimate knowledge of Australia will help them in the way they prepare for the big game.  The loss means that the two sides that are rated two and three in world rugby will clash in the last eight, while the Northern Hemisphere have a free run to the final now.  While it may be a massive plus for television bosses up north, it is difficult to wonder how much the tournament is robbed by having the Tri-Nations superpowers all in the same side of the draw.  “Australia won’t be easy, but they will be easier,” De Villiers explained.  “There are two reasons for this. Firstly they won’t be as physical as Samoa, but they will try to be. It is just Samoa who can be as physical as that, because it’s part of its nature.  “Secondly, we understand Australia and we know what they do. We’ve been playing them for years, and they’re not likely to change anything this coming week. For them it will be easier and for us it will be easier.”  The Boks have made no secret that their set-pieces will be the basis for their attack, and armed with a stingy scramble defence, they feel they have the firepower to beat the Wallabies.  “It will be a challenge for them on the scrums, especially as our scrum is exceptionally good at the moment. We use it as a good platform to play from and a guy like Pierre (Spies) gets enough time to go off the back of it. Our line-outs aren’t bad either,” De Villiers added.  De Villiers reminded those who criticize his side that they have undergone a stark transformation this year, and is not the side they were 12 months ago. A singular focus, stern defence and the ability to score tries have all helped with this.  “When we began in Durban, we knew where we heading. Every time we’ve played – with the exception of Namibia – we’ve gone back and reminded ourselves of the process we are in and where we are heading. We’ve criticised ourselves and every time we’ve just got better and better,” De Villiers added.  “If you look how we were a year ago, and how we needed to play catch-up rugby, to where we are now, then you can see a big difference. We begin by playing in our structures and we do it well.  "The first and especially our last game, we played total rugby. There were line-breaks against us, but if there weren’t when would we be able to practise our scramble defence. Overall though, if you compare last year and this year there was a big difference.”  The big test will be on Saturday, where De Villiers faces the biggest challenge of his career.  The thin line between success and failure as never been as apparent as now. -super-rugby