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Page last updated at 15:54 GMT, Thursday, 23 April 2009 16:54 UK

Backs give Boks edge - Du Plessis

Bryan Habana
Players such as wing Bryan Habana could be South Africa's match winners

Former South Africa coach Carel du Plessis says their upcoming Test series with the British and Irish Lions could end up being decided by the backs.

Many people have predicted a war of attrition up front but Du Plessis said the Springboks' backs could win it.

"Quality possession from scrum and line-out will go both ways, both teams have good players there," he said.

"The way you put together attacking play will determine the final outcome. I think the Boks have the edge."

Lions coach Ian McGeechan has appointed a forward, Ireland's Paul O'Connell, as his captain and when discussing the Lions squad, forwards coach Graham Rowntree said: "It's important that we took some physical animals. Because that's what South Africa are."

606: DEBATE
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But Du Plessis, who coached South Africa against the Lions in 1997, said the outcome of the series may be decided in more subtle ways, and how quickly the tourists knitted together as a group.

"If you look at Welsh and Irish components in the squad, there are a lot of combinations of players who know one another," he added on BBC Radio 5 Live.

"The real hard work will be to find combinations in the backs for the Lions - I think there will be formidable combinations up front.

"At the moment the Boks are blessed with good reserve strength and player depth in certain positions.

"Because of their reserve strength and settled combinations, the core of their team has been together for two or three seasons - that will definitely be in their favour."



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