The widely touted kicking strategy to test opposition back lines with a slippery ball in humid conditions could play into South Africa’s hands at the Rugby World Cup in Japan, Springboks winger Cheslin Kolbe said on Wednesday.
Wingers Makazole Mapimpi and Kolbe showed quick feet to make Japan pay for their sloppy play at breakdown during a convincing 41-7 victory for the visitors in Kumagaya this month.
Ahead of Saturday’s crunch match against reigning world champions New Zealand in Yokohama, Kolbe sees no reason why South Africa cannot continue to punish their opponents for poor ball handling and hurt them with counter-attacks.
“The ball’s quite slippery and your palms get sweaty,” Kolbe told a news conference on Wednesday.
“There will be teams who will try and kick a lot to try to force some errors – especially on the back three – to create opportunities to attack from.
“But in saying that, it could be an opportunity for the defending team, if we do handle that, to add some pressure on the team that kicked on you.”
Keen to avoid slip-ups in extreme heat, Wales have mimicked the conditions by splashing baby oil on rugby balls in training, while Scotland has prepared with balls soaked in shampoo.
Kolbe, however, has urged South Africa to make sure they depend on short, uncomplicated passes to cut down on errors, regardless of conditions.
“You just have to get closer to one another and not force unnecessary passes. There is a plan that we will have to set out for the World Cup, to make sure we can handle those wet balls,” said Kolbe.
“We just have to adapt as quickly as possible to whatever weather conditions come our way.”