My springbok team for the 2013 EOYT

Fullbacks

Gio Aplon – For his ability to spark something and the pace that he injects into the backline

Patrick Lambie – I’ll prefer Lambie on flyhalf but want Goossen back in the environment. Lambie showed again in the CC final that he is the best runner-up in the flyhalf berth and there is enough other cover for fullback in players like Willie le Roux and JP Pietersen if Lambie was to be selected to play in the No10 jumper.

Wings

Bryan Habana – For his experience and all round workrate

JP Pietersen – For his pace, defence and ability to manufacture tries

Willie le Roux – For his x-factor ability to constantly keep the defence guessing and his back-up as fullback

Bjorn Basson – Nobody else that put his hand up

Outside centres

Jacque Fourie – Defence in this position was a major weakness this year; Jacque will sort that

JJ Engelbrecht – He’ll do well as impact player either on the wing or as outside centre

Inside Centres

Jean de Villiers- He was inspirational this year and he is growing as a leader

Frans Steyn – For his defensive and distribution abilities and the fact that he has played in Europe/France for a couple of years

Note: Jan Serfontein might be added here because players like Frans Steyn, Gio Aplon ad Willie le Roux has utility qualities making it unnecessary to select a utility back. Serfontein is a youngster and personally I feel he was pulled into the Springbok environment to soon. However, I will not select someone like the Freestate’s Ebersohn (which I personally like a lot as player) into the team if he is not seen as longtime propect. Serfontein clearly has ability and just need to mature.

Flyhalves

Morné Steyn – Was the best in this position this year by far even though he is suspect on defence. That’s why I want Frans Steyn on his outside

Johan Goossen – I am not sure that he has played enough rugby this year to warrant a place above Lambie but I want him back in the environment.

Scrumhalves

Fourie du Preez – For obvious reasons still the best we have in this position

Ruan Pienaar – Because he knows the European conditions so well

Kobus Reinach – He lacks experience but has something that is non-negotiable on this level namely natural speed and a feel for opportunity

No8

Duane Vermeulen – Was the best in this position this year in SA

Flankers

Willem Alberts – He can cover No8 and the lock positions as well

Francois Louw – Our best performing flank at test level the last two seasons

Siya Kolisi – Have not played a bad game for the Springboks yet

Arno Botha – If he has recovered he should be considered otherwise Marcel Coetzee

Locks

Eben Etzebeth – Only class act we’ve got in this position at the moment

Pieter-Steph du Toit – showed in the CC-final he is ready for test rugby

Bakkies Botha – Bakkies on crutches is better than Jaundre Kruger or Flip van der Merwe

Note: Willem Alberts can cover on lock as well. So I’ve got only three locks in my team. The EOYT is normally seen as an opportunity to award CC performers and to develop talent so one of the wings like Basson or Habana might be given a rest (opening a spot in the squad) in favour of giving Juandre Kruger more development opportunity. Kruger however was so poor during the Ellispark test against the All Blacks that I think we need to look at some other options like moving Alberts to the lock position when the subs come on.

Props

Pat Cilliers- It’s time to move beyond Guthro Steenkamps and CJ van der Linde

Tendai Mtawarira – has shown that he can handle the pressure of international rugby

Lourens Adriaanse or Frans Malherbe – We are in serious need at tighthead and it might be time to give one of these guys a chance.

Coenie Oosthuizen – time to see if Coenie can make it as a tighthead

Note: Jannie du Plessis needs a break.

Hookers

Adrian Strauss – No remarks needed

Bismarck du Plessis – No remarks needed

Some thoughts on the England victory

All credit to NZ for not blaming the virus in the team or end-of-year-tiredness for their loss at the hands of a committed England team.

The NZ players did look more than a bit pale and lethargic as they entered the field and even the Haka lacked its normal spark.

Punctiliously, I don’t however think it was either the virus or tiredness that saw NZ losing this match. It was the England tactics and their good defence that won them the match.  Continue reading

Some thoughts on the weekends test matches

Nick Mallet during his tenure as Springbok coach made himself very unpopular by saying that he is not too concerned about criticism from South African rugby fans because in his opinion they don’t know much about the game anyway.

Coincidently, he now seems to be as critical as the SA rugby fans about the rugby dished-up by his prodigy’s Springbok team.

Where Mallet was hostile and pompous towards the media Heynecke seems to be more open and willing to show the public that their opinions count.    Continue reading

Bokke over coached?

What the hell is going on with our beloved Springboks? This, I believe is the main question every SA rugby supporter wrestle with at the moment.

Wrong players in key positions, an unbalanced back row, injuries to key players and playing an outdated game plan has all been voiced as probable reasons.

Heynecke has responded to most of these criticisms by making changes to the team but still the team seems to be tentative almost scared to do anything.  Continue reading