Can the Boks get the win?
Forget about the Rugby Championship. By the Springboks not getting the full 10 points….or even just the 8 for that matter, against Argentina, and the All Blacks demolishing the Aussies, New Zealand has all but engraved their names on the inaugural Rugby Championship cup.
Team Meyer should now just focus on the bigger picture and not be concerned about winning the tournament.Rather build towards to end of year tour and get the pieces of the puzzle in place.
He should also perhaps forget about his statement about winning every match, and rather re-look at his approach to the game and what personnel he requires to deliver consistent winning performances over the long run. I know this is what he seems to be doing, picking personnel for the kick and chase, bulldozer game, but I don’t even think he has the right personnel in his side even for that game to be effective.
Morne’s kicking is wayward and he doesn’t create space for our back-line to operate. Blame the forwards, blame the scrummie. Fact is, if we look at Dan Carter, his forwards do not always dominate but he almost always gets his back-line away. He dictates. Unlike Steyn, who reacts to situations, a player like Carter creates his teams opportunities when there is seemingly nothing on. Something I’ve seen players like Lambie and Goosen do.
I do recall during last year’s tri nations, when the Springboks sent a toned down squad down under (because the key players were injured – remember?) that when Lambie came onto the field, the Springboks suddenly looked like a side that could be dangerous and in a space of 10 minutes, 2 tries were scored by the Boks. But too little too late, I’m afraid.
During the Super Rugby and Currie Cup it was quite telling what difference Goosen made to the Cheetahs side. If you could not spot the difference, then you didn’t watch the games. It is really like comparing a Ferrari to an Opel Kadet 1986 model. His decision making is spot on, he creates something from nothing on regular occasions, he can play under the pressure of a retreating pack and then there is the little bonus of a deadly accurate boot within ranges of 22 to 60 metres depending on air pressure. And as much as I am glad for his inclusion in the Bok group, I am still quite concerned that it will be too early since his return from injury, having had very little chance (in fact almost 50 minutes) to rebuild his confidence and match fitness before stepping up onto Test match rugby.
The other player I have a concern with is Zideshow Kirchner. Really, he physical likeness to the cartoon character’s image isn’t all that makes the name so apt. He really is just there to do his job, which he probably does perfect according to Meyer’s liking, but he offers nothing more than a full back who can round off an easy try or catch up & unders under a moderate amount of pressure. Patrick Lambie and Jaco Taute are both players who are dynamic in their attack, solid in defense and with a certain amount of X- factor.
Moving Ruan Pienaar to scrumhalf after he solidified his game at there during his stint in Europe is wise and will perhaps make Morne Steyn look to be in better form than he currently is, something that I won’t mind as long as we win, but it might also just sugar coat the problem we have at 10. If we do have the delight of seeing Goosen play off the bench and he manages the shrug off the injury and match fitness concerns, our eyes will be opened to a whole new world of Springbok Rugby which we probably have not seen since…well….ever?
But I do have a concern about whether Goosen will be physically and mentally ready for this game, and I would question Meyer’s motives if he plays Goosen if he is not ready. If he has an off day, it will be all the defense Meyer needs for his continued selection of Morne Steyn. Meyer’s comments about being impressed with Goosen, does give some sort off confidence that it will not be the case though, stating: “The same goes for Johan (Goosen), who in my mind can become one of the great flyhalves in world rugby. I’ve been very impressed with his work ethic and attitude since he joined the squad on Thursday in Johannesburg and we will keep on managing him carefully over the next few weeks.”
Duane’s selection at nr 8 is a no-brainer and even though doubts existed that he may not be ready due to his long injury lay off and not having a complete 80 minutes since, I am confident that he will step up to the plate and be the player we all know he is. Juandre Kruger is also a welcome return in place of a “disgraceful” Bekker, although some suggestions are that he just doesn’t seem to be able to shake off his back injury.
Can the Springboks beat the Aussies this weekend?
Well, considering it’s in Perth, where a large amount of South Africans live and who are always quite vocal in their support for SA teams at this venue; considering David Pocock won’t play, which leaves a bit of a gap in terms of Australia’s openside play (not writing off Hooper but Pocock is just class!); considering there will be no Bryce Lawrence officiating the match, (although Nigel Owens on his day can be quite atrocious as well if we recall the RWC2011 match against Samoa) and considering that players like Jean, Beast, Jannie, Frans, Morne, Hougie, Ruan, Bryan and Alberts might be eager for some payback for last year’s untimely World Cup exit, I do think we can beat the Aussies.
I won’t write off the Aussies. They played pretty decent Rugby for their 22-0 loss against New Zealand in a game where the All Blacks were just rampant. But if there is any chance for redemption of Mendoza, this is their most likely chance. And with the inclusion of Pienaar, Vermeulen and Kruger, I think we do have sufficient personnel in place to pull it off. Add Lambie to that mix, and in future a fit and experienced Goosen, we may just be able to beat the All Blacks again….but for now, the Rugby Championship is over, and we should rather look at each game at a time, building towards a rewarding End of year Tour.