British & Irish Lions
Du Randt warns of Lions' forward strength
May 22, 2009
Du Randt made his last appearance for the Springboks in the 2007 Rugby World Cup Final victory over England © Getty Images
Springboks legend Os du Randt has issued a warning to his compatriots that the British & Irish Lions will pose a formidable physical threat in their three-match Test series.
The double Rugby World Cup-winning prop, who was part of the team that lost a series 2-1 to the elite tourists 12 years ago, feels that coach Ian McGeechan has named a powerful group of forwards who will try to intimidate the world champions.
Props Andrew Sheridan (England) and Gethin Jenkins (Wales) are tough players, while locks Simon Shaw and captain Paul O'Connell are also highly physical players that could pose a major problem. But Du Randt, who ended a 13-year international career when he retired after the 2007 World Cup, insists that Peter de Villiers' man can cope.
"We must take on the Lions in the forwards. They are coming with the same mentality, same coach and same tactics that they had in 1997, with big, heavy guys," he told the Cape Times. "They are used to scrumming and making the game slower. So we must match them physically and try to get the ball to the wings, but we mustn't only play champagne rugby.
"During the first 30 to 40 minutes it will be very important to mix it up, and then we must win in the last 30 minutes. We must take the game to them. I also think we must kick just a bit more tactically, to put extra pressure on them."
Du Randt also believes that national captain John Smit, who has recently been shifted from hooker to tight-head, will be able to stand his ground. "I'm okay with John at tight-head against the Lions. If you look at what happened in the Super 14 he never struggled except in the game against the Waratahs. But what South African tight-head did not struggle against Benn Robinson? He is the one guy who scrums really well.
"So John scrums well, is good on defence and of course because of his leadership, we have to make place for him in the team. I think that because he had to survive at tight-head, he has become a bit too heavy for hooker. So I don't think that he is the logical choice at hooker, although he will be a good back-up."
But Du Randt has expressed surprise at the omission from a Training Squad named earlier this week of Smit's provincial team-mate at the Sharks - Jannie du Plessis.
Coach De Villiers named a 23-man team to face a Namibian Invitational XV next Friday in what will be South Africa's only warm-up match ahead of the first Test on June 20.
"I definitely think Jannie du Plessis should be there. I think he is the steadiest scrummager at this stage in South Africa," said Du Randt. "He does have a bit of a problem in open play as he is sometimes not in position on defence but it isn't a major problem. It is something that can be worked on."