What are you expecting from this game? A South African romp or disaster? I’m hoping for romp but then again the Boks might surprise me. One thing I have come to expect from the men in Green-and-gold this tour is that you shouldn’t expect much… they might disappoint you. Last week when I watched Boots and All Owen made a comment that with the skill level we have and considering the opponents we were facing (Wales) we should beat them comfortably. I agree, wholeheartedly… I, in fact, expected it. I was disappointed. So I am not going to make the same mistake again.
To harp on about the lack of well everything of the Bok coaching staff is getting a bit much now but we as rugby lovers (and not just fans) love to express our feelings about the obvious inadequacy of the brain’s trust. We should just accept the fact that they suck and hope that skill alone will pull us through games. That is what I think will happen again this weekend. We won’t steamroller Scotland and they shouldn’t (hopefully, fingers crossed) beat us. I read Tank Lanning’s blog and I agree… the Bok management don’t really know what they want. Hougaard and Kankowski have been included indicating a running approach, however with Kirchner and Morne Steyn we see a conservative approach. I do feel however that Kirchner’s inclusion is more about necessity rather than tactics. But let’s face it, with Morne Steyn at flyhalf it doesn’t matter who the scrumhalf is, the game will be slow and pedantic at the back.
Let us look at the tight five. Last week they scrummed against what is arguably the best scrummaging unit in world rugby, the Welsh unit. They did not let themselves down. The exchanges were tight, sometimes they were on top and I think when we started judging Walsh’s calls a lot better, we were getting the upper hand. So as a unit we should by all means have the upper hand against the Scots. At the lineouts we should dominate too as we all know, Matfield is king in this respect. Bakkies will do what Bakkies does best… enforce. Beast will play like his nickname suggests. Bismarck will act like an extra flank (though Stegmann negates the “extra” part), and Jannie will not let us down… hopefully. So all in all our tight five should trump their tight five.
In the backrow things will be interesting. Stegmann isn’t even worth a mention at this stage in his “lucky” Bok career. He has done nothing to warrant his selection, and that at the cost of better flanks in the country. One can’t help but wonder if Francois Louw told Pdivvy what he thought of him. He probably hates Vermuelen just because… or he wants to show to fans that we don’t know what we are talking about when we say there are better players, and then to spite his own nose chooses the not-so-good ones instead. Juan Smith will always do what Juan Smith does best, put his head down and give us a stellar performance. He is our hard man of loosies rugby. I have always rated Kanko and feel he is a better player than Spies even on his off days and Spies on his better days. Plus I feel he has improved on his physical game by miles (semi-finals and finals of the Currie Cup as evidence presented). All he has to do is bring that same hunger to the Boks and he should do great. But under Pdivvy it’s easy to get confused and look like a fish out of water… he has that special ability of bringing a player down a few notches.
In the halfback pairing things are just as interesting. Hougaard is the future. He is in your face and abrasive. He tackles like a demon, reads the game well, keeps defences honest, has a crisp pass and his boot isn’t too bad either. A great exponent for ball-in-hand rugby. But then you get Morne Steyn who will try his best (and succeed) to slow the game down, stop forward momentum and generally look decisionless on attack… unless it’s to kick the ball. Somehow I don’t see our backline, who can be dangerous, do anything in this game. If Lambie was playing I would have expected a romp. He seems to make his decisions before he even gets the ball. I’d even have given Jantjies a go as he is a great talent. Morne can only keep the scoreboard ticking… if we get penalties our way. Other than that I feel he adds no value.
Our centre pairing will fire, if Lambie our Jantjies was flyhalf. But alas. I feel Steyn should be playing inside centre anyway and Jean outside. Steyn just doesn’t have the make up of an outside centre so why waste him there. We know Jean is brilliant and he can fill that outside berth with his qualities a lot better than Frans can. Plus Frans has that boot… sorry… booooooooooot!
Our back three won’t shine because all they are ever asked to do is chase Morne’s pointless kicks and defend. Aplon proved his size is not an issue, ask Graham “Jonah Lomu” North… big guy my ass! Plus Aplon can step and weave like the best of them. He is our magic-in-a-bottle guy. I am so glad Mvovo is getting his start. If he gets good ball (hardly likely) he should have a great game. He has the talent and hopefully this will help Habana find his game again… especially if Mvovo has a good one. Kirchner, or as I like to call him “Apoo” from the Simpsons, is your normal run of the mill third choice fullback. Not bad but not good enough either. He should stop that bloody goose-step crap of his. Campese must cringe whenever he does it… he makes it look stupid.
We should beat the Scots, not comfortably but we should beat them. But who knows maybe they will surprise us yet again and lose this one, sorry I meant to say win by miles, albeit only when the right guys get on the pitch (and with Pdivvy’s substitution policies of late I don’t see that happening).