What is Meyer thinking?

One thing has become very clear in Heyneke Meyer’s messages these last few days. His emphasis on kicking. It is sad really when one can see the potential in almost all of the players present. South African rugby fans are making a lot of noise on general team selection and it generally tends to be the same. Play the players who have that something extra in them.

Yet Meyer is ignoring these calls. He is steadfastly sticking to what he perceives he knows. I use the words perceive in this case because Meyer has done his fair bit of backtracking on stances he has taken. To highlight the most obvious one is the case of flyhalf. The country has been talking about Lambie and Jantjies a lot, and not just the last few games but for a while. Yet Meyer seems to stand fast on denying there talent. One thing I knew to be bull when he talked about it was Lambie’s perceived lack of tactical kicking. The kid has always been brilliant at it yet Meyer has come out and said that Lambie needs to work on his. What rubbish!

The kid probably has the biggest rugby brain and cool head in the entire squad. His tactical kicking has always been good, his defence has always been rock solid and his attacking acumen is probably one of the best in the country. Elton has shown the glimpses of brilliance we know he has. Has he been as steady as Pat? No but he hasn’t been up and down like a yo-yo either. Yes he had a shocker in the semis to a degree but he didn’t play that badly either. Yet Jantjies hasn’t even made the bench.

Morné Steyn has had one of those seasons that any normal person would want to forget… and quickly. He hasn’t been his metronomic best this whole season. Yet he makes the bench based on one good game for the Bulls to make the semis of the Currie Cup, yet has another shocker against the Sharks a week later. Other than his boot he offers nothing yet he gets the nod because Meyer perceives him to be a better tactical kicker. Well someone should tell Meyer that Steyn’s kicking has been so bad this season that he even made Peter Grant’s kicking out of hand look sublime.

Meyer harps on about tactical kicking and kicking to posts yet not once has he said anything about a complete game, something Lambie and Jantjies can offer. Steyn only offers kicking. Which in a way scares me when you think about what Meyer might be thinking about, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who has. Meyer has made no secret about the fact that he doesn’t rate Lambie. He has put his favourite player on the bench in Morné. Does that mean Lambie will be subbed after 20 minutes? Hmm. Also by picking Morné, who has had a shocking season, above someone like Jantjies, who has had a good season, are you not psychologically telling Jantjies that you don’t rate him either?

Now on to Zane Kirchner. Captain Niknaks has been solid but other than his placement and kicking out of hand he has offered about as much as a church mouse to the church coffers. Zane’s kicking, Meyer explains, is what gives him the nod above someone like Taute. Taute can hoof a ball miles, yet he can also run and is an extremely strong tackler. Zane doesn’t offer those last two at all. When Captain Niknaks starts dancing on the spot like a jack rabbit… wait I shouldn’t liken him to the jack rabbit because the jack rabbit can actually side step. When Captain Niknaks prances on the spot like a jack-in-the-box he becomes the easiest target to tackle.

Taking Taute to 15 and bringing on Juan at 13 would have made perfect sense. You have a kid who knows the defensive lines of outside centre patrolling outside centre. Plus you bring on someone who is tenacious in his defence and someone who in the blink of an eye can actually do what a jack rabbit does, evade would be predators!

Almost the entire country bar the truly fanatical Bull supporter can see that removing Zane and Morné from the equation greatly improves our chances against the Irish, so why can’t Meyer? All I know is that if we do lose this game on the Emerald Isle, Meyer will have a lot of explaining to do, not to the South African fans only, but to a certain Mr Gwede Mantashe too.

All Blacks Are Dirty, But Good At It

Well the game against the All Blacks in Soweto was lost. The All Blacks won quite easily in the end, after it threatened to be a close game.

Their were two differences between the sides on that day. The one is that when the All Blacks had the opportunity to score then they did. The other was that when South Africa had the ball the All Blacks used dirty tactics to slow our ball or win it.

Please don’t get me wrong, the All Blacks deserved the win and were the better team, but the one thing I do have an issue with is how they manage to get away with playing dirty so regularly. No daylight in tackles or holding on to the tackled player. McCaw always slowing the ball down by lying on the wrong side, etc. The one thing the All Blacks are masters of, and will probably always be masters of, is the bending of the rules on the pitch.

Now the All Black fans might take offence to this but the All Blacks are cheats, and bloody good at it. We deserved to lose the game against them because what the Boks couldn’t do in the second half was adapt to the spoiling tactics employed by the All Blacks. Once the All Blacks realized that just playing the game wasn’t working they changed tact in the second half and it worked.

That shows up one of the big problems in the Bok game. Their is no deviation from a plan. There was no switch in tactics when we were being outsmarted. When Heyneke and the media talk about us being behind in development then the only thing that comes to mind is smart rugby. On an equal footing, playing fair rugby, I believe the Boks and the All Blacks are almost equal. However when it comes to using your brain we are far behind.

Two people should shoulder the blame for the All Blacks getting away with “murder” on Saturday, actually three to a degree. Ruan Pienaar mostly, he hardly “pointed out” the issues to the ref. Scrummies are meant to be chirpy fellows, however Ruan is, in my opinion, too quiet and more could have been done from his side to point out the problems ala Joost. He should have been like a Kevin Putt on Roland’s shoulders. Jean is the other culprit. He was also not trying his best to point out the obvious spoiler tactics used.

To a lesser degree I blame Roland. I have reffed and the one thing I can tell you is that it is difficult to spot everything. You have split seconds to make decisions. However to miss that many obvious transgressions so often… I think he was concentrating on other things a little too much. As a ref I have experienced this. You go into the game with a mindset. Sometimes that mindset can be to focus on particular areas of the game. This sometimes impacts your ability to spot other transgressions as you are not as focused on them.

All in all we deserved to lose. Meyer has been weighed and measured in this tournament and as the national coach I have deemed him wanting. He seems short sighted and prone to knee jerk reactions. He can’t decide on a team but the one thing he has proven is that he has favourites and that he has players he would rather not want to pick.

Lambie and co can be felt hard done by a man who believes he has all the answers even if evidence of their talent and form stares him right in the face. He is steadfast in his decision that Lambie is not a rugby player of note. I would have started with Lambie at flyhalf in every game.

Another person who should be singled out as a failed favourite is Taute. The kid can go far, of that there is no doubt. But his inexperience as an outside centre was showed up by the All Blacks. His defence was rubbish at best. Someone like de Jongh who has given anyone no reason to doubt in his abilities, should have played. He tackles like a demon, he has a vicious step and hand off and more importantly knows how to defend in the centre channels. Taute is a fullback, 13 is not his position.

When you look at the All Blacks one will see that they value skill and creativity. Israel Dagg is not a heavy chap, Cory Jane only weighs about 88 kilos or so. Yet they are chosen on formand the skills they possess. Dagg made Taute look like a fool on two occassions. Our coach is so besotted with size he seems to forget that a level of skill is needed to play the game. That doesn’t bode well for the players like Lambie, Aplon, de Jongh, Daniel and co who have all the skills but lack the “size” requirement.

Anyway I will now take a stab at the match day 22 that Meyer will most probably pick for the tour to the northern hemisphere.

Meyer’s too obvious match day 22:

15 Zane Kirchner, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jaco Taute, 12 Jean de Villiers (c), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Duane Vermuelen, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Eben Etsebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Tendai Mtwarira.

16 Tiaan Liebenberg, 17 Coenie Oosthuizen, 18 Flip van der Merwe, 19 Marcell Coetzee, 20 Francois Hougaard, 21 Patrick Lambie, 22 Juan de Jongh.

Here is the team as I would like to see it:

My pick for match day 22:

15 Jaco Taute, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Jean de Villiers (c), 11 Brian Habana , 10 Patrick Lambie, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Duane Vermuelen, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Eben Etsebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Tendai Mtwarira.

16 Tiaan Liebenberg, 17, Coenie Oosthuizen, 18 Flip van der Merwe, 19 Marcell Coetzee, 20 Sarel Pretorius, 21 Elton Jantjies, 22 Francois Hougaard

I would also like the following guys to tour with the main team:

Tim Whitehead, Keegan Daniel, Rynhardt Elstadt, Jean Deysel, Wille le Roux, Paul Jordaan, Marnus Schoeman, JC Janse van Rensburg, Jan Serfontein, Francois Venter, Ryan Kankowski, Joe Pietersen, Martin Muller, Raymond Rhule, Pieter Labuschagne, Craig Burden, Pieter Steph du Toit, Lwazi Mvovo, Bjorn Basson, Siya Kolisi (if not injured)

I’m sure there are a few other that we can add to that list.

My Rugby Championship Weekend Predictions

The big Soweto test is looming on the horizon. From all the articles and things I have read, this match is being approached as a do-or-die by both teams involved. The All Blacks seem intent on vindicating their premier status as rugby’s ultimate team. The Boks under Meyer with his revised-ish (according to him and Jean it’s unrevised) game plan seems to finally be making strides in the right direction. In my opinion it is more a case of dropping the dead weight that put us on the right track. The Wallabies look like a team straight out of the Walking Dead TV series. Injuries left, right and centre have not helped Robbie Deans one bit. Argentina have made a great introduction into the competition in my opinion. It has definitely been long overdue. One can only see them improving as a rugby nation. I wouldn’t put it past them to compound Deans’ misery. So here are my predictions:

6 October, 2012

South Africa vs. New Zealand: Soccer City, Soweto – 17:00 (RSA)

SA First XV:

15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Bryan Habana, 13 Jaco Taute, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 11 Francois Hougaard, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Eben Etsebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.

Replacements:

16 Tiaan Liebenberg, 17 Coenie Oosthuizen, 18 Flip van der Merwe, 19 Marcell Coetzee, 20 Elton Jantjies, 21 Juan de Jongh, 22 Patrick Lambie.

NZ First XV:

15 Israel Dagg, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma’a Nonu, 11 Hosea Gear, 10 Daniel Carter, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (captain), 6 Liam Messam, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Andrew Hore, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements:

16 Keven Mealamu, 17 Ben Franks, 18 Luke Romano, 19 Adam Thompson, 20 Piri Weepu, 21 Aaron Cruden, 22 Tamati Ellison.

This will be a close game and I have to agree with those that state that this game will be brutal. From all the talk out of the camps and with the charged atmosphere one feels one can’t but agree with that statement. The All Blacks were not happy about being dominated up front in Dunedin so the Boks should expect one hell of a backlash! I have a feeling this game will be as tight as a ducks bottom. It will be physical, it will be brutal. Yet because the All Blacks look like the more settled outfit and with the return of Carter I don’t see the Boks winning this. Then again I could be very wrong. With change in personal and bringing in a fetcher we could have the player dynamics to upset the All Blacks. Duane and Flouw were outstanding against the Wallabies and with every test together I can only see that improving.

My heart tells me Boks but my head says All Blacks… by 5 or more.

6 October, 2012

Argentina vs. Australia: Estadio Gigante de Arroyito, Rosario – 20:10 (RSA)

Arg First XV:

15 Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino, 14 Gonzalo Camacho, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Santiago Fernandez, 11 Horacio Agulla, 10 Juan Martin Hernandez, 9 Martin Landajo, 8 Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe (captain), 7 Juan Manuel Leguizamon, 6 Julio Farias Cabello, 5 Patricio Albacete, 4 Manuel Carizza, 3 Juan Figallo, 2 Eusebio Guinazu, 1 Rodrigo Roncero.
Replacements:

16 Agustin Creevy, 17 Juan Pablo Orlandi, 18 Leonardo Senatore, 19 Tomas Leonardi, 20 Nicolas Vergallo, 21 Nicolas Sanchez, 22 Juan Imhoff.
Aus First XV:

15 Mike Harris, 14 Nick Cummins, 13 Ben Tapuai, 12 Pat McCabe, 11 Digby Ioane, 10 Kurtley Beale, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Radike Samo, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Sitaleki Timani, 5 Nathan Sharpe, 4 Kane Douglas, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Tatafu Polota Nau, 1 James Slipper.
Replacements:

16 Saia Fainga’a, 17 Benn Robinson, 18 Dave Dennis, 19 Scott Higginbotham, 20 Liam Gill, 21 Brett Sheehan, 22 Dominic Shipperley.

The Aussies had a game they would rather forget against the Boks last week. There were Aussie bodies strewn all over the place. When one looked at the carnage then maybe Heyneke was correct in bringing guys in who demolish things. One can’t help but feel sorry for Deans. With a plethora of changes having been made the Aussies will struggle or dominance against Los Pumas. The Pumas did come off a big defeat against the All Blacks but it is painfully obvious to any Wallaby supporter that the Pumas are a more confident team than them. In my opinion the Pumas have had a good first year in the competition. They took the Boks to a draw. Gave the All Blacks as good as they got and came close against the Wallabies in Australia. They have some good players in that outfit. Someone like Marcelo Bosch comes to mind. If the Pumas can build on this first season things for them can only get better.

I see a Pumas upset on the cards. They are at home and fired up, they can literally smell Wallaby blood from the looks of things. Pumas to take it by 4 or more.

Rugby Championship Weekend Predictions

Well the big game for the Boks is coming up this weekend. They will be playing their fiercest rivals, the All Blacks. Must say it is not really a game I am looking forward to anymore.Anyway, here are my weekend predictions.

15 September, 2012

New Zealand vs. Argentina: Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin – 09:35am (RSA)

NZ First XV:

15 Israel Dagg, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma’a Nonu, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Piri Weepu, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (captain), 6 Liam Messam, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Andrew Hore, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements:

16 Keven Mealamu, 17 Charlie Faumuina, 18 Brodie Retallick, 19 Victor Vito, 20 Aaron Smith, 21 Beauden Barrett, 22 Tamati Ellison.

SA First XV:

15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Bryan Habana, 13 Jean de Villiers (captain), 12 Francois Steyn, 11 Francois Hougaard, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Juandré Kruger, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.

Replacements:

16 Tiaan Liebenberg, 17 Dean Greyling, 18 Andries Bekker, 19 Marcell Coetzee, 20 Johan Goosen, 21 Juan de Jongh, 22 Patrick Lambie.

Will South Africabe able to win this one? Hell no! Will it be a tight game? There is a possibility that it could become one if the Boks manage to strangle the All Blacks for ball but I doubt it will be. For one reason the Boks won’t be able to starve the All Blacks of possession. The reason being we love to give it to the opposition in the first place by kicking it into their awaiting arms. Clever kicking is something that doesn’t even enter the current Springbok mindset. Morné’s only weapon he has ever had is even ineffective. Expect the Boks to lose this game and expect the margin to be big.

The All Blacks to win by 15 or more. Who knows, maybe in Meyer’s mind that is a small margin.

8 September, 2012

Australia vs. Argentina: Skilled Park, Gold Coast – 12:00 (RSA)

Aus First XV:

15 Berrick Barnes, 14 Dominic Shipperley, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Pat McCabe, 11 Digby Ioane, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Radike Samo, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Dave Dennis, 5 Nathan Sharpe (captain), 4 Kane Douglas, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Benn Robinson

Replacements:

16 Saia Fainga’a, 17 James Slipper, 18 Scott Higginbotham, 19 Liam Gill, 20 Brett Sheehan, 21 Anthony Fainga’a, 22 Kurtley Beale.

Arg First XV:

15 Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino, 14 Gonzalo Camacho, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Santiago Fernandez, 11 Horacio Agulla, 10 Juan Martin Hernandez, 9 Martin Landajo, 8 Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe (captain), 7 Juan Manuel Leguizamon, 6 Julio Farias Cabello, 5 Patricio Albacete, 4 Manuel Carizza, 3 Juan Figallo, 2 Eusebio Guiñazu, 1 Rodrigo Roncero.

Replacements:

16 Agustin Creevy, 17 Juan Pablo Orlandi, 18 Leonardo Senatore, 19 Toms Leonardi, 20 Nicolas Vergallo, 21 Martin Rodriguez, 22 Juan Imhoff.

This has the look of an interesting game. The Pumas should be brimming with confidence. They managed to hold the Boks to a draw and they gave as good as they got against the All Blacks. The Wallabies were given a much needed boost to confidence thanks to the Boks. The loss of Genia might dampen that spirit but in Nick Phipps the have an able replacement. This will be a close game and could go either way. I fancy the Aussies for this clash in part because they have the game breakers and if they click there will be no stopping them. It will also be home ground advantage to the Aussies.

Wallabies to win by 6 or more.

Bok Team to Face All Blacks – Common Sense, Meet Brick Wall

The South African team has been announced and lo and behold Meyer once again proves his stupidity. Loyalty is one thing but plain blindness to a player that is a major cause for our heartaches is another.

Meyer has seen the steady decline in Bok play and only makes one unforced change. He picks Francois Louw at 6 at the expense of Coetzee. Shocker!! His one forced change is to bring in the penalty machine Flip van der Merwe to replace Eben Etsebeth. No I know he had to make a change but then why pick a guy who will cost you a match when given half a chance?

A better option would have been to move Alberts to lock and Marcell to 7, where he will no doubt shine again because the shackles he has been placed under will have been removed. Alberts would give more grunt to the tight 5 and our scrums would not be worse off or maybe even better. Marcell would be allowed to play to his strengths which is taking the ball up. Picking Flo is good because it frees up the others to do what they are good at. Picking Flip only proves that you want to lose. Etsebeth had a little brain fart after numerous tests. Flip has numerous brain farts in one test.

The persistence of Morné at flyhalf cannot be comprehended. It is impossible, it is an unsolvable maths equation and if you do try ponder its meaning your brain will go numb, melt and die! Meyer has probably given a number of people the country over a mild heart attack. The one guy who has consistently been, for lack of a better word, crap, does not deserve a mention in a Bok squad when others who have performed better, albeit mediocre, get chopped after one game. It is ridiculous and borders on being mentally insane.

Zane did have one of his better games against the Aussies but that is because they played to his strengths. But all he did with the ball he received was kick. When he was at Griquas he could attack. His move to the Bulls has blunted that obviously overrated skill at the Bulls to non-existence. Which brings me back to Morné, when he was playing behind Derrick Hougaard he was considered a running flyhalf, someone who could get a backline moving. However, after taking over from Hougaard he has become nothing more than a programmed robot with the primary and only programmed event being that he kicks possession away.

When Zane tries to go against his programmed event of kicking he starts bouncing in one spot looking like a rabbit in headlights. When Morné does he looks for the nearest tackler. It is like a safety program built in by Bulls coaching. In case said robot wants to override primary coding, loop to secondary coding of self preserving the out dated game plan. Plain English, make sure Morné kicks and doesn’t run again.

Jean de Villiers… oh captain, my captain… retire please. You are not an outside centre. An outside centre can step, straighten the line, hand off a tackler and on defence can tackle. You have failed in all departments. Go out with your head held high because in this position under this coach you will end your career as a laughing stock. Once considered one of the best centres in world rugby you are fast dropping down the list of acceptable test centres.

I know I have singled out individuals but our team as a whole also looks lacklustre. They are underperforming and it’s anyone’s guess as to why. It could be that they are being forced to play in a way that does not suit them or it could be too much rugby. In Meyer’s case I hope it’s the latter because if it’s the former it means his team does not buy in to his game plan (which would make them clever). If a team does not buy in to your game plan then no matter what amount of coaching you do you will never bring out the best in them.

Meyer has had numerous chances to fix his mistakes but he seems intend on fixing things that aren’t broken and not touching the things that are. It can only be a bad thing for Springbok rugby if this trend continues. Expect a drop in world rankings if it carries on.

Rugby Weekend Reviews

It’s that time of the weekend again, Rugby Championship and Currie Cup… love this time of year.

8 September, 2012

New Zealand vs. Argentina: Westpac Stadium, Wellington – 09:35am (RSA)

NZ First XV:

15 Israel Dagg, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma’a Nonu, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (captain), 6 Victor Vito, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Tony Woodcock.

Replacements:

16 Andrew Hore, 17 Charlie Faumuina, 18 Sam Whitelock, 19 Liam Messam, 20 Piri Weepu, 21 Beauden Barrett, 22 Ben Smith.

Arg First XV:

15 Martin Rodriguez, 14 Gonzalo Camacho, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Santiago Fernandez, 11 Horacio Agulla, 10 Juan Martin Hernandez, 9 Nicolas Vergallo, 8 Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe (captain), 7 Juan Manuel Leguizamon, 6 Julio Farias Cabello, 5 Patricio Albacete, 4 Manuel Carizza, 3 Juan Figallo, 2 Eusebio Guiñazu, 1 Rodrigo Roncero.

Replacements:

16 Agustin Creevy, 17 Marcos Ayerza, 18 Juan Pablo Orlandi, 19 Leonardo Senatore, 20 Tomás Leonardi, 21 Martin Landajo, 22 Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino.

It’s All Blacks vs. Pumas for the first game of the Rugby Championship this weekend and this should be a no brainer in prediction circles. One can always rely on the Argentines playing with passion but it will not be enough to beatNew Zealandwho will have just too much skill on hand. Even with Carter injured there is still Cruden and Barret to fill his shoes and they are more than capable players.

It will probably not be a massive massacre but the game should be comfortably won by the All Blacks by about 20 odd points

8 September, 2012

Australia vs. South Africa: Patersons Stadium, Perth – 12:00 (RSA)

Aus First XV:

15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Dominic Shipperley, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Berrick Barnes, 11 Digby Ioane, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia (captain), 8 Radike Samo, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Dave Dennis, 5 Nathan Sharpe, 4 Sitaleki Timani, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Benn Robinson.

Replacements:

16 Saia Fainga’a, 17 James Slipper, 18 Scott Higginbotham, 19 Liam Gill, 20 Nick Phipps, 21 Mike Harris, 22 Anthony Fainga’a.

SA First XV:

15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Bryan Habana, 13 Jean de Villiers (captain), 12 Francois Steyn, 11 Francois Hougaard, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Juandré Kruger, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.

Replacements:

16 Tiaan Liebenberg, 17 Patric Cilliers, 18 Flip van der Merwe, 19 Francois Louw, 20 Johan Goosen, 21 Patrick Lambie, 22 Lwazi Mvovo.

After the shocker that the Boks had againstArgentinaI don’t see them winning this one for the following reasons:

  • Our forwards do not play as a cohesive unit.
  • Our backrow is still the same in style as the one picked against the Pumas. There is no one playing towards the ball and the only forward we have that does is on the bench. Hooper should have a field day out there with how badly the Boks protect ball.
  • Even with Ruan at scrumhalf, which should provide for better decision making at the base, Morné is still playing. He is slow and the quicker version of the game does not help him or the South African cause any. Meyer’s loyalty towards this man is astounding given that Lambie offers so much more. Our centres will get slow ball and still be reduced to nothing but bettering rams.
  • Hougaard is back in a position that many feel is his best but at the expense of Mvovo who has done nothing wrong to warrant his benching. Another Meyer favourite it seems.
  • Zane Kirchner is also still on the field. Another Meyer favourite no matter how badly he plays.

The Aussies should be able to meet us up front and their clever backs should outplay us as they will be given more freedom of creativity than what is granted to our players. They also know exactly how we will be playing since Meyer makes no secret of it and as such would have had ample time to analyse our game plan for all its weaknesses… and there are many

Wallabies to win by 5 or more.

Post match player grillings… I mean ratings

The All Blacks wallop the Wallabies and we almost get eaten by Pumas! Springbok rugby has steadily been getting worse. We start off with a bang against England, even though Morné played like pooh. We then get slightly worse in every match till we draw with them. We then play the Pumas at Newlands and win, albeit unconvincingly. Then it’s off to Mendoza where we truly showcase the progression… erm sorry… regression shown under Heyneke.

It’s sad really. I’d love to place this blame on HM and Morné especially, but blame has to be passed all round… almost. I see on Sports24 that the player ratings they gave never went under 5 and that, in my opinion, is just way too conservative. I will be rating the players out of 10 and here are my scores:

15. Zane Kirchner – 5

Never put a foot wrong but never did anything to write home about either. He was mediocre. No attacking flair and definitely no attacking vision. He offers nothing other than enough, and to be a Bok you need more than enough!

14. Bryan Habana – 5

He had one hell of a quiet outing. But when it comes to the wings I can hardly blame them for all our inside backs use up their space and leave them with nothing to work with. No space is created for them and in Habana and Mvovo we have guys who have the ability to score when given less than half a chance.

13. Jean de Villiers – 4

He might be a good leader but his general play is hardly what we know he is capable of. Had some solid runs in the second half, but for a man who was always seen as a creative inspiration in the midfield, it has now become something that is sorely lacking. Wonder if the fact that Jaque isn’t there and that he is basically playing out of position has something to do with it. But he should have no excuses!

12. Frans Steyn – 5.5

He never showed us any of his trademark creativity. When he tried he skipped players with long passes instead of trying to create the overlaps. I am sure the speed (or lack thereof) of Morné Steyn’s distribution is playing a role in his game. Can’t help but feel he will start to shine when he has a flyhalf who is willing and able to attack the gain line. But even if he did save our behinds in the end, he could have given a better display and shown better decision making.

11. Lwazi Mvovo – 5

Just like Habana, Mvovo gets no space to move when the backline does attack. No space is created. When he did get the ball he did show he was in the mood to use it. Pity he never got more and better opportunities.

10. Morné Steyn – 3

What more can be said about his pathetic play? The man doesn’t know how to make a decision. He is too slow out of the blocks. He just shovels the ball along without having made the think. He stands too deep in the pocket when he runs (which is slow) and his passing takes forever. Our entire backline is always caught well behind the advantage line when Morné does decide to “run” with it. We all know he was chosen mainly for his kicking ability, and even that was woeful. His aimless up-and-under’s and general kicking out of hand was shocking. How much longer will Meyer persist with the man who is the obvious Achilles heel of the team? My answer, almost forever!

9. Francois Hougaard – 5

The man is struggling with a game plan that is obviously not suited to him. Add to that the fact that the forwards protect him like one would vermin, and then one can understand why he isn’t getting to his potential. Maybe he should be considered as an impact player and maybe it should be as wing.

8. Willem Alberts – 4

He is not an 8th man. He is too slow and his runs came to naught. He offered nothing at the end of the day. Keep him at flank at let him play with players who compliment him and he will be destructive. Or even pick him at 4 and move Etsebeth to 5.

7. Jacques Potgieter – 4

I have a new nickname for him and it’s Blubber. Does anyone remember that Robin Williams movie where he is a scientist who invents this green blob that bounces around worse than a rubber ball whenever it bumps into something? Well that’s what Potgieter looked like. He would runs full speed into someone and then bounce off. He reminded me of a bee at the window. Not an international flank by any stretch of the imagination.

6. Marcell Coetzee – 4

The kid finally had a shocking game and it isn’t surprising when one realises that the combination of the back-row was one that never complimented the other. We know he can play but the argument has to be made for a fetcher and unfortunately Coetzee is no fetcher. Why not try a backrow of Coetzee, Daniel and Kanko (if he is available) for the next test. Should be a hell of a lot better than the one chosen on Saturday!

5. Andries Bekker – 2

Sorry big man, but you sucked so bad that you actually made someone like Flip van der Merwe seem world class. Maybe Juandre should be given the jumper ahead of you because it seems your best days are behind you… far behind!

4 Eben Etsebeth – 7

Yes he gets a bloody 7! He might have been quiet during the first half but that is because the entire team was still trying to figure out what hit them! But when he decided it was time to front up no-one went with him and he went alone! He was by far our best player of the day. Industrious in the tight and showed his strength well.

3. Jannie du Plessis – 4

It seems that when his brother is out Jannie forgets to play. I wonder ifBismarckdoes the thinking for both of them when they are on the field. Never contributed anywhere and his scrumming was below par.

2. Adriaan Strauss – 3

I had such high hopes for this young man. Maybe Chiliboy is our second best because if Strauss puts in another performance like he did on Saturday I think his days under Heyneke will be numbered. He couldn’t find his jumpers, made general play errors and didn’t seem to scrum well either.

1. Tendai Mtwarira – 4

It seems like he also had theBismarckblues. It was definitely his worst performance in the Bok colours in a long time. He isn’t doing any of his trademark “Beast” runs and was quiet in the tight exchanges.

16. Tiaan Liebenberg – too short

He wasn’t on for very long but he did look better than Strauss in those few minutes. Even one us a scrum when we needed it.

17. Pat Cilliers – too short

Also seemed to be more industrious than the man he replaced even if he didn’t get much time to showcase his talents.

18. Flip van der Merwe – 4

Heyneke said he didn’t pick Brussouw because he gave away penalties. Then why in the name of all that is holy did he pick the one man inSouth Africawho is potentially worse? Yes, he was better than Bekker, but he was on the field for mere seconds before giving away a dumb penalty. Brussouw gives away penalties because he lives ion the edge of the law in trying to steal possession. Flip gives them away because he is stupid!

19. Keegan Daniel – too short

He was not given enough time to undo the damage created by the backrow. But in that short amount of time he did more good than the other 3 combined for the whole match. He won us a scrum and showed spirit.

20. Ruan Pienaar – 5

Pienaar’s decision making is much better than Hougaard’s and it does seem like he can play behind a pack that doesn’t offer him much protection. He did tackle like Bekker though so that made him look bad.

21. Patrick Lambie – bench warmer

The man with more talent in his little toe than 3 Morné Steyns combined is obviously not liked by Heyneke much. I wonder what he did to tick off the coach so badly and I believe I do have the answer as well… he plays better than Steyn ever could.

22. JJ Engelbrecht – bench warmer

He would have probably done a little better than de Villiers if he was on. The reason being is that anyone playing outside Morné on Saturday would have looked like crap anyway.

When you are given Bok colours it is deemed that you are exceptional. You have something that other rugby players don’t. These guys are not showing it. It doesn’t seem that this bunch would beat the Kings if they had to play them like they did on Saturday.

All in all it was a shocking game with a lacklustre team. I am sure the Aussies can’t wait to play us so that Robbie Deans can save some face. We all know the reason Brussouw also doesn’t get included and it has nothing to do with penalty counts. Meyer likes his players big, if they happen to play good rugby then it’s a bonus, if they don’t they get picked anyway. If you are playing rugby inSouth Africaand happen to be less than 100kg’s then go play overseas… you won’t get Bok colours under Heynie, he’ll make bloody sure of that!

Preview on the weekend’s Rugby Championship action

Well this weekend’s games are almost upon us. Let’s have a look at the Rugby Championship shall we:

25 August, 2012

New Zealand vs. Australia: Eden Park, Auckland – 09:35am (RSA)

NZ First XV:

15 Israel Dagg, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Ma’a Nonu, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Hosea Gear, 10 Daniel Carter, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (captain), 6 Liam Messam, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Wyatt Crockett.

Replacements:

16 Andrew Hore, 17 Ben Franks, 18 Brodie Retallick, 19 Victor Vito, 20 Piri Weepu, 21 Aaron Cruden, 22 Ben Smith

Aus First XV:

15 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 14 Drew Mitchell, 13 Rob Horne, 12 Berrick Barnes, 11 Digby Ioane, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia (captain), 8 Scott Higginbotham, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Dave Dennis, 5 Nathan Sharpe, 4 Sitaleki Timani, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Benn Robinson

Replacements:

16 Saia Fainga’a, 17 James Slipper, 18 Radike Samo, 19 Liam Gill, 20 Nick Phipps, 21 Anthony Fainga’a 22 Kurtley Beale

This should be a walk in the park for the All Blacks. Why? Because the Wallabies don’t have the tight 5 to compete and I think that Robbie Deans has got some of his selection wrong. I would have picked Adam Ashley-Cooper at 13 and put Beale in at 15. I would have had Pat McCabe or that chap who played fullback for the Brumbies (forgot his name) on the bench. Horne cannot play with the big boys. He is ok on attack and not so great on defence. The All Blacks also have some lucky test players in their ranks. Ma’a Nonu hasn’t been near his best and Piri Weepu somehow gets picked above Kerr-Barlow… I smell something fishy in Weepu’s continued selection. Yet even with these massive deficiencies in the All Black arsenal they still have more than enough to put the Aussies away. I might be wrong but that is my reckoning. The All Blacks to win this by more than 12.

25 August, 2012

Argentina vs. South Africa: Estadio Malvinas Argentinas, Mendoza – 21:10 (RSA)

Arg First XV:

15 Martín Rodríguez, 14 Gonzalo Camacho, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Santiago Fernández, 11 Horacio Agulla, 10 Nicolás Sánchez, 9 Nicolas Vergallo, 8 Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe, 7 Álvaro Galindo, 6 Julio Farias Cabello, 5 Patricio Albacete, 4 Manuel Carizza, 3 Juan Figallo, 2 Eusebio Guiñazu, 1 Rodrigo Roncero

Replacements:

16 Bruno Postiglioni, 17 Marcos Ayerza, 18 Leonardo Senatore, 19 Tomás Leonardi, 20 Martín Landajo, 21 Lucas González Amorosino, 22 Juan Imhoff

SA First XV:

15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Bryan Habana, 13 Jean de Villiers, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Willem Alberts, 7 Jacques Potgieter, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Tendai Mtawarira

Replacements:

16 Tiaan Liebenberg, 17 Pat Cilliers, 18 Flip van der Merwe, 19 Keegan Daniel, 20 Ruan Pienaar, 21 Pat Lambie, 22 JJ Engelbrecht

This should almost be an exact repeat of the Newlands clash. Why? Well, mainly because Morné Steyn is still flyhalf which means I backs will never get going and the only time they will ever reach full pace is when chasing one of his kicks. What ticks me off is that he never missed a kick at Newlands and all of a sudden everyone raves about him getting his grove back. What utter Bull (excuse the pun)!! He can’t get a backline moving even if his life depended on it. He is to slow and too deep! He makes Steyn ineffective. The other reason is Jacques Potgieter and Flip van der Merwe. Now if you ever want to pick lucky Boks then pick these two. Potgieter might be all hustle and bustle and doing everything at a 150% but it is ineffective. He reminds of Schalk and the way he played when younger, difference being that Schalk was very effective. Potgieter has never proven himself in any form of competition so how the hell did he get colours? Same goes for JJ. In Flip (another penalty) van der Merwe we have basically chosen our fifth best number 4 lock in the country. Why not play Juandré? At least he brings something to the game other than penalties and is hell-of-a-good in the lineouts! Boks to win this by more than 6 but without the bonus point again. Expect the All Blacks to show us how it’s done.