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Backs can rock Boks

Assistant coach Kiss insists Ireland's back three hold key to victory at the Aviva



As much as Ireland want to protect the outline of their game-plan, the way forward, through or around South Africa is clear and, hopefully, will be present at the Aviva Stadium this evening.

The Springboks are not exactly known for their innovation or outside-the-box approach to a constantly changing sport.

They have all the physical tools they need to act the part of the playground bully, through their super-physical, 21-year-old totem Eben Etzebeth in the engine room and the hulking Willem Alberts in the back row.

If that doesn't do the trick, there is always recourse to a double-edged kicking game from half-backs Ruan Pienaar and Patrick Lambie.

It is simple really. South Africa have the set-piece, barrelling over-sized runners and kicking kings with which to apply pressure and turn the screw physically until the Irish defence is exhausted of stamina and the will to put bodies on the line.

The answer is also simple. Ireland's half-backs Conor Murray -- his garryowens are a relevant strength -- and Jonathan Sexton have to keep the ball away from the touchlines in their own half.

The whole 15 have to keep the ball in hand and reduce mistakes to a minimum.

In other words, Ireland have to channel their attack as the best form of defence.

The Springboks can do little without the ball. Ireland must vary their waves, going straight when it is necessary and around when it is on.

Ireland's back three are a sizeable unit blessed with different dimensions in what they bring in attack, from Simon Zebo's footwork and change of pace, to Andrew Trimble's direct power game and Tommy Bowe's aerial threat and timing onto the ball.

"When you look at the back-three as a unit, they complement each other in different ways," said attack coach Les Kiss.

"Simon's left foot will come into play for us at times. He hits nice lines. He's got some good finishing ability. He has been handling it very well and he is in a good place.

"You add Trimby and Tommy into that on either side of him, it is certainly a sizeable back three with a lot of gas there and a lot of physicality," said Kiss.

There was also a note of caution. It is one thing to keep the ball, quite another to know how to use it and when to send it downfield.

"The most important thing, in respect to running the ball, is picking the right moments. That's always the quandary," added Kiss.

"You've always got to be able to manage the game and make sure you're pushing it where you need to.

"One thing we don't do is try to tie up the natural instincts and natural talent of the guys. We hope that with a nice balance in approach in terms of how to put pressure on the ball in the air and test their wingers -- we'll do that when we need to.

"When we've stressed that area, hopefully, we'll pick the right time to unleash a bit of that back-three power."

Ireland: S Zebo; T Bowe, K Earls, G D'Arcy, A Trimble; J Sexton, C Murray; C Healy, R Strauss, M Ross, D Ryan, M McCarthy, P O'Mahony, C Henry, J Heaslip (capt). Replacements: S Cronin, D Kilcoyne, M Bent, D O'Callaghan, I Henderson; E Reddan, R O'Gara, F McFadden.

South Africa: Z Kirchner; JP Pietersen, J Taute, J de Villiers (capt), F Hougaard; P Lambie, R Pienaar; T Mtawarira, A Strauss, J du Plessis, E Etzebeth, J Kruger, F Louw, W Alberts, D Vermeulen.


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