Balanced Bok Team… almost

Well Meyer has definitely picked a well balanced team to take on Italy this weekend. I was reading Tank Lanning’s column and he seems a bit worried about centre and a lot worried about tighthead. I can understand that and it is probably true, but I do not quite agree.

I do like the look of the back three. Habana and Basson should be great under the high ball. Not sure about Willie because he has never really played at fullback but I am pretty sure he can handle it.

If Jean is fit then great for the Boks. If not then it isn’t a train smash either, as I am pretty sure that if Serfontein takes his place we won’t be the worse for wear. Sure we lose a lot of experience in Jean but Serfontein will have Morné on his inside and the fact that Serfontein and JJ having been gelling very well at the Bulls can only be a boon for the Boks. Added to that is the fact that we do have an inform Ebersohn that will be on the bench as well as Lambie that can cover the inside channel effectively. So at centre I am not as worried as Tank.

Our halfback combo is my real concern when it comes to depth. Jano has been playing well and kudos for the start. Hopefully he’ll grow and he also offers a better kicking game than Hougaard. Pienaar should be a shoe-in for the Rugby Championship so I am happy that Meyer is giving Jano a start before Hougaard. Hougaard is however my concern. His rugby hasn’t been the best in a while now. He is more consistent but not his usual expressive self. Someone like Piet van Zyl or even McLeod would have been a better backup at this stage. But then again Hougaard does offer versatility as a wing, however I feel that those bases are covered in the squad.

My other concern is Spies. Yes he has been playing some decent rugby but when games get tight he still has a tendency to disappear. So against Italy, Samoa and maybe Scotland he should flourish but he is still vulnerable in tighter games. I would have liked to see Arno Botha get a go from the back for this game because at 8 we don’t seem well stocked.

With the flanks I have no real complaints except maybe that besides Louw, no-one else plays to the ball as much and isn’t all that effective. Maybe Brussow or even someone like Deon Fourie would not have been bad back up. But then who do you drop to accommodate another fetcher?

At lock we also seem a little thin. With Bekker’s departure there now seems to be a big void at 5. I am not a big supporter of Juandré but hopefully he comes good but I would have preferred Franco above Juandré. And Steph-du Toit is a great player but my verdict is still out on whether he is our answer at 5. For this game and future tests I would have loved to see Etzebeth and van den Merwe as Lock partners with Etzebeth taking over at 5.

Tank feels we are a bit short on proper tightheads. I feel Adriaanse will be up for the challenge but Tanks’ main concern is for Saturday’s bench against Italy. Meyer has picked two looseheads basically in Nyakane and Oosthuizen. Tank feels Oosthuizen isn’t cut out for tighthead. I disagree and I’m sure he could become world class if given time.

At hooker the Boks are blessed. Strauss and Chiliboy have been playing great rugby and Bismarck is almost back from injury. Add to that a Tiaan Liebenberg as backup (though not in the squad) and we should have enough quality depth.

So all in all my biggest concern is Spies, followed by a real lack of depth at lock.

The Bok team:

Starting XV:

15 Willie le Roux, 14 Bryan Habana, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Jean de Villiers (c), 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Juandré Kruger, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Beast Mtawarira.

Reserves: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Coenie Oosthuizen, 19 Flip van der Merwe, 20 Arno Botha, 21 Ruan Pienaar, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 Jan Serfontein.

12 thoughts on “Balanced Bok Team… almost

    • It shouldn’t be fine it should be excellent. He has put in some serious time on his defence and it shows. Hopefully it’s good enough come Rugby Championship. But that’s where I would still pick de Jongh above him.

  1. My concern is with Willie at 15 and shifting Habana to RW. Both not their ideal positions. Yeah, Habana should be fine at 14, but still, why change a winning formula? You could have had Habana on 11, Willie at 14 and LAmbie at 15.

    I have to agree with Tank on Coenie. He struggles at tighthead and it makes little sense to have two looseheads on the bench. Luckily for us Castrogiovani is a tighthead, but we may struggle against a proper loosehead if Coenie has to cover tighthead. I still recall how we got smashed by the Leicester tigers scrum with Castrogiovani and that was against Gurthtro and BJ Botha….

  2. Wasn’t the Cheetahs plan after last SR season to start playing Coonie at Curry Cup full time as tight head – and then his injury messed up with that plan.

    Without being too radical; I think Coenie, Heineke and Naka should sit down for a beer and agree that Coenie shouldn’t play any part of 4 nations this year – instead get a full Curry Cup season as a tight head to properly get used to the position. Based on the progress he could picked for the end year tour as 1st choice tight head and let Jannie rest properly.

    Coenie has a massive potential to become a world class tight head but as he is not quite good enough yet even for Super Rugby level in the position, and thereby doesn’t get full game time as tight head, this might be a solution.

  3. Good post, couldn’t agree with you more. met Ush’s suggestion of Habana at 11, Willie 14 and Lambie 15 is also not bad. But what is Lambie’s preference? Hasn’t he said he wants to play flyhalf?
    And then I’d like p van zyl or reinach as scrummie cover, and vermeulen as 8 and spies backup. I have to admit, I dont know much about arno botha, but everyone seems to rave about him. Is he really that good and does he deserve to be in the bok team? Wasnt he planning on going overseas too?

  4. Lambie did say he prefers 10 but it was last year at a stage where Sideshow Kirchner was playing 15 and only place Lambie was going to get a chance was at 10 with M Steyn’s form dropping and injury to Goosen. I’m not speaking on his behalf but he was electric and amazing in RWC2011, made 15 his own. I personally believe he is the best option at 15 with Le Roux 14 where he is meant to be and has been so devestating and Habana back to 11. With JJ and Serfontein centers, Steyn/Goosen at 10 when he’s back and MS goes overseas, Reinach/Vermaak/Hougaard at 9. Now that is a backline worth mentioning. Depth, some experience and loads of talent. Remember, F Steyn and JP Pieterson still injured and JP playing Japan for a while. So the talent is amazing in SA rugby if the right players are chosen.

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