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Lessons from losses


Written by Richard Ferguson (Richard Ferguson)

Posted in :Original Content, RWC 2015, Springboks on 17 Aug 2015 at 10:28
Tagged with : , , , , , , ,

Five international games have come and gone and we now sit in the position of waiting for the World Cup to start. Let’s have a look at what we might have learnt from these five games.

To start, I won’t lie, I did not watch the Argentina vs South Africa game this weekend. I saw the opening two minutes and the rest of my take on this match comes from watching the highlites packages and reading the reviews around the interwebs. But let’s be honest with ourselves for just a minute, it was an International Friendly that could have done more harm than good if players got injured a mere 5 weeks before the World Cup. Yes we won, yes we broke a winless run, but we have to look at the bigger picture here – If we played like we did against any other Union, let me rephrase, any other Top Tier Union, the score would have looked much different. But I digress.

The point here is to take some lessons from what we have seen form the Springboks, and you are all welcome to add your opinions below, as I am sure you all have something that I may miss.

I’m going to start up front, where I am sure you can all agree we now know that Jannie du Plessis, with all his shortcomings, is still our number 1 tighthead. He may be a tad over the hill and we have seen some seriously poor showings from him in the past, but the way he has stood up and showed his naysayers wrong is worth mentioning, and I have a feeling he will make a big impact at the World Cup. That said, Vincent Koch is a very talented young man and I hope he is learning as much as he can from Jannie, as I am sure he will be taking that starting spot from him very soon.

Victor Matfield should go to the World Cup. I know this is going to get me a few comments below, but hear me out. He may avoid the mauls like I avoid a bad curry, opting to stand in the backline somewhere, but his guile in the lineout is something the Boks need. He would be ideal to make an impact off the bench, coming on either when the going out there is tough, or if we have to see out the game. He has experience, and it is that experience in the last quarter that we missed in the matches against Australia and New Zealand.

The loose trio can be made up of anyone of 6 or 7 players – and ain’t that a good thing. Competition for places make players stand up and I am sure this is what is currently happening. We have seen great rugby from Marcell Coetzee, Heinrich Brussouw, Francois Louw and Schalk Burger. Willem Alberts showed what he can do, and that in his first match back. Add to that a Duane Vermeulen firing on all cylinders and we have some of the best in the business.

Fourie du Preez should not go to the World Cup. He has had all the time in the world to get back to fitness, it hasn’t happened, I feel sorry for the guy, but there simply isn’t space. It would be a great shame if he is selected with absolutely no form and someone like Francois Hougaard or even Faf de Klerk stays at home.

In Pollard and Lambie we have two world class flyhalves, I doubt we need to look beyond them for the World Cup and even beyond that. Lambie was great behind a good pack this weekend, showing his cool calm and collected self once again. I reckon Pollard would have been equally good behind that pack. We need to remind ourselves that Lambie is Pollard’s senior by 6 years, and just as Lambie went to the last World Cup with a handful of caps, Pollard should be at this year’s showpiece.

Jesse Kriel is a talented young man, but he is no wing. Kriel burst onto the scene against the Wallabies, and went equally well against the All Blacks, but he is definitely better in midfield. His inexperience showed in the Durban test against Argentina, and there is no way we can afford to test him at wing when we are leaving players like Lwazi Mvovo on the bench.

Speaking of Mvovo, this guy needs to start more games. What I saw from him on the highlites was great, he looked hungry and played better rugby in those few snippets than he has for the Sharks most of this season. If we can utilize him more in the national setup, with proper coaches getting his work rate up, he can go on to do great things for the Boks.

I could go on, but I have a few thoughts that I am keeping for another piece. The Boks are sitting at a strange junction at this point in time, they have fallen down the rankings and have had all and sundry basically write them off for this World Cup. It is now up to them to choose whether they want to follow the script or not.



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