Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Tough bastards

Former Springbok coach and new Italian coach Nick Mallett explains the difference between North and South:

"The intensity of New Zealand v South Africa is not yet matched by a test match in the Six Nations. They don't put their bodies on the line with the same ferocity as a South African or New Zealander defending his turf. The Afrikaner is very physical; he loves tackling and is very brave. It's the same for the players of island origin in New Zealand sides. They get huge pleasure out of a big hit.

"So for me, it's the absolute intensity that is the difference. The Southern Hemisphere teams hit harder in the contact situations, with or without the ball. In terms of muscularity, speed and size, the Northern Hemisphere teams are up there. It's just the mental side of it that is different. You don't see a Schalk Burger-type player here with absolutely no fear. Schalk is like a threshing machine. Players here will make the tackle but in the Southern Hemisphere it is almost an intense hatred of the opposition.

"When they clear you out of a ruck in New Zealand or South Africa, they are doing it so hard to hurt you and saying in effect: 'Don't ever come here again.'

"It is that kind of intensity I'm talking about. South Africa understood their skill levels weren't as good as New Zealand's in retaining possession. But their main weapon was to be as destructive as possible when the opposition had the ball. And I think that will always be the case. It stems from the differing cultures. There is more a sense of preservation among French, Italian and Northern Hemisphere teams.

"There seems to be a lack of thought going into contact in the Southern Hemisphere. They are just incredibly courageous."



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