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Mid year tour… Springboks vs England

Written by Ryan Quirk (The Quirk)

Posted in :In the news, Springboks, The Rugby Championship on 25 Jun 2012 at 10:28

So Heyneke Meyer’s first test series as Springbok coach is done and dusted.  He will be a relieved man having toppled the English despite the lacklustre draw in Port Elizabeth over the weekend.  So what can we as the long suffering Springbok fan base take from this series?

The Boks can be unbeatable if they play to their strengths, as was evidenced by the first half of the second test match.  If they play like that for 80 minutes, every game, the only team that can challenge us will be the All Blacks, and they will have to be on top form to do that.

Morne’ Steyn has to get his kicks over.  If he doesn’t, then the whole point of the pressure / penalty game plan becomes moot. 12 out of 23 from your primary points resource just isn’t good enough when you consider the rest of his game.  He needs to sort his kicking out pronto, or can look forward to being the 2nd best flyhalf in the Currie Cup after Peter Grant with Lambie, Goosen and Jantjies better than him in ever other department.

Francois Steyn is vital to the Bok cause.  It takes three men to bring him down whenever he gets the ball and yet even though the opposition knows this, he still gets over the advantage line every time.  I would like to see him used as more than just a battering ram because he is better than that, but simply knowing he is playing sets my heart at ease.  He is bigger than Pierre Spies, has more skill than the whole of Italy and can kick a rugby ball to the moon if he fees like it.  There isn’t much to write home about in the reserves cupboard at 12 either with the Bulls persisting in playing Wynand Olivier ahead of Francois Venter who offers so much more.  I’m looking forward to seeing more of Jan Serfontein in the coming years too.

There are plenty of loose forward options in South Africa with Schalk Burger, Duane Vermuelen (News in that Burger and Vermuelen aren’t as close to returning as we’ve been told.  Schalk maybe out for the year) due back from injury and Willem Alberts and Marcell Coetzee making their marks during the England series.  Heinrich Brussouw will be back I’m sure but in the meantime we have very little to worry about in that area.

Lock is a bit more of a concern.  Juandre Kruger and Eben Etzebeth were very good against the English, but with Andries Bekker’s never ending injury concerns and Flip van der Merwe being more of a bruiser than a thinker, there is a perceived lack of depth at lock when it comes to lineout specialists, despite the Lion’s ability to randomly call up 9 locks during the SupeRugby season to date.  I would have liked to see Franco van der Merwe get a run.  I think he is underrated because he plays for the Lions and has a lot to offer if given the opportunity.

It is clear that Ruan Pienaar is the best option we have at scrumhalf.  Francois Hougaard is a great attacking force but his all round game suffers when he is put under pressure.  He can best serve the Springbok cause by coming off the bench as an impact player.  I am a firm believer that every player in the matchday 22 is of equal importance, whether they start or not, because every player can win or lose the game for the team.

Finally at fullback we saw Zane Kircher, Pat Lambie and Gio Aplon all don the 15 jersey with Lambie being miles ahead of everybody else.  If he is to play at 10, if Steyn’s kicking woes continue, then other options need to be considered.  Joe Pietersen is one and Hennie Daniller is another.  I like Daniller as an option.  He is big, strong, has a big boot and makes as many running metres as any other fullback in the competition.

I’m very excited about what is to come.  Knowing what to expect from the coach is great feeling and the fact that I know that he knows what he is doing, as is evidenced by his record, fills me with a deep sense of calm.


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