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Friday 9 December 2016

'Boks all set for an aerial bombardment

Conor Murray had a big role to play for Ireland against South Africa the last time they played. Photo: Grant Pitcher/Gallo Images/Getty Images
Conor Murray had a big role to play for Ireland against South Africa the last time they played. Photo: Grant Pitcher/Gallo Images/Getty Images

South Africa are braced for an aerial bombardment from Ireland in Cape Town on Saturday.

When Ireland turned them inside-out in November 2014, the pinpoint punting of Jonathan Sexton was the sharpest knife to their back three.

Conor Murray launched a bomb straight from the kick-off that bounced forward off full-back Willie le Roux to set the tone.

The scrum-half's chip exploited Bryan Habana's positioning for Tommy Bowe to gather the garland of another international try.

Worked

"We have had a look at their kicking because that was something that worked really well for them the last time we played," said captain Adriaan Strauss, who was binned on that evening.

The giant hooker, a cousin to Richardt Strauss, made no effort to hide their application to a skill not common to the Springboks.

"They used broken-play kicking effectively and also kicking from set-pieces.

"So we are preparing for that aspect and we had a couple of defensive kicking sessions last week, so we are ready.

"We have only had a week together but we have been through a lot, such as kicking, defence and attack."

Back at home, Connacht will have to move on without backs and kicking coach Andre Bell.

One of their coaching cornerstones has decided to return to New Zealand to be close to his family.

The loss of Bell offers up opportunity for Conor McPhillips to further enhance his reputation as the new backs coach.

The former Connacht scrum-half will has earned the trust of Lam as a strong contributor to their attack philosophy.

"Conor has an impressive rugby brain with an eye for the fine detail that makes a big difference," said coach Pat Lam.

"I have every confidence that he will build on the good work that Andre has done and take it to another level necessary for next season."

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