Fourie brings Rugby World Cup winner's passion to fire Eagles defence

USA defence coach seeks to mould a disparate team into a cohesive unit.

OKINAWA, 21 Sep - Former World Cup winner Jaque Fourie is pouring his energy and expertise into making the USA team an impenetrable force.

Fourie helped South Africa lift the Rugby World Cup in 2007 (pictured above) and now as a defence coach with the Eagles he is hoping to ensure they can safely repel what is coming their way.

"As a player, defence was something that I really enjoyed doing. It comes naturally," he said. "So it was my goal to become a defence coach. My role is to bring a lot of energy on defence for the players to see and to bring a lot of passion."

Fourie believes communication is imperative to ensure his players maintain a watertight defence.

"As it gets tougher and as the guys get tired, the voices go out of the window. It's a communications thing. As they get tired, especially the forwards, their heads drop and they don't talk.

"For me, when the going gets tough and you're in tight situations, you just need to hear someone on the field from your inside or outside saying, 'I've got you', or to 'go and push' (out wide)."

His extra challenge is to blend the players who compete in Major League Rugby with those who play in Europe.

"For me, it's about managing the guys who come from Europe, to just tweak what they were doing at their clubs. For the guys who have come from the MLR, we have to start from the beginning, put them into structures and get them up to speed with the guys who have come from Europe."

There is also the task of incorporating those with a strong sevens background to understand the different structures of the 15s game.

Malon Al-Jiboori began his rugby journey by playing as a second-row forward in 15-a-side team at college before he joined the USA sevens team, with whom he won gold in Las Vegas at the 2018 HSBC Rugby World Sevens Series. Now playing in his first Rugby World Cup, he understands how hard it is to make the switch.

"It's way different," he said. "The set piece is really different. Obviously, in sevens, you have three-man or four-man lineouts but in 15s it's much more tactical and strategic.

"The biggest thing is spacing and communication. Obviously your spacing doesn't want to be too tight but you don't want to be too wide and open holes for the attack to play through."

Al-Jiboori said he will relish bringing the physicality on which his South African defence coach prided his own game.

"We'll be focusing on big tackles and double hits. You see a team like England, they are big boys and they are a great team, so double hits are going to be really important for us."

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