Louw's role against the All Blacks is critical
STUNTING the opposition at the breakdown demands buy-in from Nos1 to 22, but Francois Louw knows he has to set the lead for the Springboks against the game's leading practitioners at the Forsyth Barr stadium tomorrow.
Louw, more than any other Bok, is skilled for the task of breaking the All Blacks' rhythm and momentum in an area in which they, and in particular their captain Richie McCaw, continue to push boundaries.
"It will be a huge battle at the breakdown," Louw said.
"You will have to put in a big work rate to keep up. But we have trained well this week."
McCaw, of course, gets away with more than most at the ruck but Louw insists he can't be distracted: "That's not really in my hands. It is up to the ref. If you start letting little things like that irritate you it might impede your performance. I've learnt the hard way it is no use complaining to the ref. Only you can help yourself."
Ireland's George Clancy will preside over matters tomorrow and Louw has more than a vague idea of what to expect.
"I believe the breakdown is blown a bit differently in the northern hemisphere. They allow the breakdown to develop a bit more and allow the guys to have a chance to go for the ball, but also for the cleaners to get that guy out of the way."
Louw will have to push new frontiers against the All Blacks. His previous five tests against the All Blacks and the Wallabies failed to yield a win, but fresh challenges bring new opportunities.
The All Blacks yesterday dropped scrumhalf Aaron Smith to the bench after he broke team protocols last week.
Piri Weepu, playing in his 15th test against the Springboks tomorrow, benefits from Smith's demotion.
While Smith would have asked tough questions of the Boks around the fringes, Weepu brings a probing kicking game and calmness inside the first receiver.