Morné

Ditching experience


Written by Morné Nortier (Morné)

Posted in :Original Content on 12 Jun 2008 at 12:55

With all the talk in recent weeks on who is in and who is left out, I have to question one specific omission from Peter de Villiers’ group of chosen ones.

The Sharks have undergone a lot of changes this season which saw their captain, John Smit leave for Europe along with Butch James and Percy Montgomery and Bob Skinstad (retired).

If anyone thought these losses would not affect the Sharks in a major way I guess the Super 14 proved differently. Although the Sharks managed to reach the semi-final’s, they struggled the whole season to move from second to third gear. Arguably the Sharks only lived up to pre-season expectations once this year in their game against the Chiefs.

One guy in particular would have been under immense pressure this season, and that is their captain, Johan Muller.

I guess many might argue that the Sharks did not live up to expectation, but if one considers the implosion that occurred at the Bulls, eventual winners of last year Super 14, then the Sharks in comparison did exceptionally well – where both teams lost experienced players in vital positions.

Much of a team’s success, or lack thereof, is thanks to their leader – and if this is one criteria we can use, then Johan Muller did exceptionally well given the team’s loss in personnel to steer his side to a semi-final spot, the only South African team do make it that far.

It is therefore quite perplexing that Johan Muller was overlooked when Peter de Villiers announced his squad for the incoming tours.

South Africa has some great talent at lock no doubt, with Victor Matfield and Bakkies Botha arguably the best in the business for the last couple of seasons. Add to this young exciting talents in the likes of Andries Bekker and it is an area we are okay in for now, but definitely not overstocked.

I am inclined to believe that the fact that the Matfield/Botha partnership was broken due to Victor moving to Europe has also put some pressure on the expertise we have in this area. Sure Matfield is back now, but he hardly played at lock in France for the last 6 months, not to mention that he is yet to play under the ELV’s which will be used in the Tri-Nations. Of course Bakkies Botha’s legal battle with the Bulls and effectively SA Rugby to be released to go to Europe does indicate that the lock supremacy we had in the last couple of years might be under threat.

In the case of getting young promising players into the system, one always have to rely on old warhorses to guide these youngsters, and Andries Bekker, although coming of a good Super 14 is a far cry off from international standards – for that he needs a lot more games and experience behind his name.

The line is very fine when you look to strike a balance to bring promising talent through, but retaining valuable experience – and ultimately that is up to the coach. I do believe however, he got it slightly wrong with Muller.

It simply does not make a lot of sense to me that you should drop a 28-year old player who is nearing his 100th first class cap, has 49 Super rugby caps and 22 test caps – who above all this not only captained his franchise and union side, but also the Springbok side in 2007.

Jake White proved what it means to have experienced guys in a team setup, and reading an article recently of the ex-Bok mental coach who said that one of the ingredients to beat the All Blacks at home (White never achieved this) was to have many, reliable and experienced leaders in your side, I find it a bit perplexing why Muller has been left in the cold.

I am all for rewarding great form, and definitely a supporter of the school of thought that ‘if you are good enough, you are old enough’ – but I also believe that this should apply to the other side of the spectrum too, that if you are old(er) and experienced and still good enough, you are young enough.

Maybe I am old school, but when I select a player I look at the total value that guy brings to the team – whether he is a youngster or an old statesman, and I am not convinced Andries Bekker brings more value to the Bok team than Johan Muller everything considered, and one flash Super 14 will not change that view.

I believe rugby, and rugby greatness is achieved by going through a schooling process and doing your apprenticeship first, before you are rewarded with national honours. Andries Bekker is no doubt the future of Springbok rugby, but we need the Johan Muller’s of this world if we want to remain the number 1 team in the world and beat the All Blacks at home this year.



34 Comments

  • How old is Johan ?

  • Comment 1, posted at 12.06.08 13:12:08 by blackshark Reply
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  • 28 years old

  • Comment 2, posted at 12.06.08 13:24:41 by robdylan Reply
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  • 28 :roll:

  • Comment 3, posted at 12.06.08 13:25:08 by PJLD Reply
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  • Very True PA…

  • Comment 4, posted at 12.06.08 13:25:20 by bryce_in_oz Reply

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  • snap

  • Comment 5, posted at 12.06.08 13:25:26 by PJLD Reply
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  • Just all the more reason we have a proper ‘A’ side playing decent opposition at the moment ala NZ and Aus… blooding new depth and keeping a few seniors in the loop… particularly as PDV was mentioning having 3 teams not so long ago… the Emerging Boks has been nothing but a gemors…

  • Comment 6, posted at 12.06.08 13:28:14 by bryce_in_oz Reply

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  • @robdylan (Comment 2) : Well…he’s young enough.

    Ok…how tall is he?

    I think the Sharks vs Waratahs game is still etched in PdV’s memory…

  • Comment 7, posted at 12.06.08 13:29:55 by blackshark Reply

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  • @bryce_in_oz (Comment 6) : you feel strongly about this? ;)

  • Comment 8, posted at 12.06.08 13:32:59 by robdylan Reply
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  • @blackshark (Comment 7) : 2m

  • Comment 9, posted at 12.06.08 13:33:52 by robdylan Reply
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  • it’s “Johann” with 2 N’s, BTW ;)

  • Comment 10, posted at 12.06.08 13:34:13 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 9) : Ok…damn…he should be part of PdV’s plans somehow…

    Good point Morne.

  • Comment 11, posted at 12.06.08 13:35:33 by blackshark Reply

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  • I didn’t for a minute believe Muler would make any of the starting Xv’s for the incoming tours but would have expected him to be in the squad of 30.

    He is 4th inline at the moment IMO

    Bekker
    Bakkies
    Matfield
    (In that order) are ahead of him.

    If Danie is there purely as a lock then muller can feel agrieved but if Danie is there as a utility then Muller has nothing to cry about reallly

  • Comment 12, posted at 12.06.08 14:12:59 by KSA Shark © Reply

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  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 12) :

    What has Bekker done to get ahead of Muller? Sure he had a good Super 14 but Muller has been consistent for the past 4 seasons and has also NEVER let the Boks down.

  • Comment 13, posted at 12.06.08 14:19:57 by Villie Reply
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  • @blackshark (Comment 7) :

    Damn tall!! :lol:

    I have a pic with him, I’m around 6 ft 1 or 2 ish and I look like a midget!!

  • Comment 14, posted at 12.06.08 14:21:14 by Villie Reply
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  • @Villie (Comment 14) : 6’8, in old money

  • Comment 15, posted at 12.06.08 14:23:42 by robdylan Reply
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  • @Villie (Comment 13) : To answer my own question, Bekker is more FLASH than Muller…found out in the backline and on the wing more often.
    Muller does more of the hardgraft and is unsung for a lot of the work he does!

  • Comment 16, posted at 12.06.08 14:23:58 by Villie Reply
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  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 12) : what is Danie doing there in the first place?

  • Comment 17, posted at 12.06.08 14:24:16 by robdylan Reply
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  • I love it when Sharkies argue amongst themselves :) My job here is done!

    Nah in all honesty though.

    KSA,

    Explain to me the value Bekker brings to the Bok setup, compare it to the value Muller brings, and tell me he (Bekker) deserves to be there ahead of him.

    I hate the debates based on form, cause it is all a matter of opinion and usually directly related to which team you support. Where one guy is strong in the loose, another might be a trojan in the line-outs. Where one has a brilliant support game, the other is an absolute master in defense around the rucks or ball carrying ability.

    How do you compare the two? They are different players.

    So look at the value they bring to the Boks squad, look what is needed to possibly win a series in NZ for the first time since the 1930′s and the 3N for the first time since 2004.

    Look at what we need to do to stay the number 1 team in the world and basically be the first team in history to carry the tag of World Champs successfully through a 4-year reign, even look at the depth and then convince me Bekker should be there ahead of Muller.

  • Comment 18, posted at 12.06.08 14:31:47 by MorneN Reply
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  • @MorneN (Comment 18) :

    I base it on form. :grin:

  • Comment 19, posted at 12.06.08 14:38:59 by KSA Shark © Reply

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  • Bekker is 8cm taller than Muller. That means he can raise his hand higher.

  • Comment 20, posted at 12.06.08 14:39:58 by robdylan Reply
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  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 19) :

    Typical Shark.

  • Comment 21, posted at 12.06.08 14:40:28 by MorneN Reply
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  • @MorneN (Comment 21) : yeah. We are all about form ;)

  • Comment 22, posted at 12.06.08 14:47:55 by robdylan Reply
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  • i see bekker as the matfield replacement, but surely muller should be the bakkies replacement. who else? muller is better than danie, who must be one of the luckiest players ever to get selected so much.

  • Comment 23, posted at 12.06.08 16:11:22 by knersboy Reply

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  • @MorneN (Comment 21) :

    :smile:

  • Comment 24, posted at 12.06.08 18:14:24 by KSA Shark © Reply

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  • @knersboy (Comment 23) :

    Yeah i agree with that. in THIS case though if Danie is there to cover loosie as well then he does add the extra bit, but would think the loosies we have are good enough to only require one on the bench.

    Speaking of that…. What happens when Schalk is back? Kankowski is out? :sad:

  • Comment 25, posted at 12.06.08 18:17:05 by KSA Shark © Reply

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  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 25) : No. Luke is out

  • Comment 26, posted at 12.06.08 18:36:37 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 26) :

    No i don’t mean what do we WANT to happen, I mean what WILL happen. :wink:

  • Comment 27, posted at 12.06.08 18:41:48 by KSA Shark © Reply

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  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 27) : Smilies

  • Comment 28, posted at 12.06.08 18:57:25 by robdylan Reply
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  • Lets settle this once and for all: Daniesaurus isn’t good enough as a lock or a loosie – his only consistency is consistently poor performances.

    Muller is an old-school hard-grafting lock – rated very highly by his props too, and that is an important facet when facing the AB and tricky Aus scrums.

  • Comment 29, posted at 12.06.08 19:01:25 by Big Fish Reply
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  • You around later, fishsticks?

  • Comment 30, posted at 12.06.08 19:13:04 by robdylan Reply
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  • I are here Don Roberto – not working tomorrow, so planning on spacing out all evening.

    Tried to msn you, but you are much unresponsive.

  • Comment 31, posted at 12.06.08 19:27:31 by Big Fish Reply
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  • Not at the pc. Will be in an hour or so

  • Comment 32, posted at 12.06.08 19:34:11 by robdylan Reply
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  • @Big Fish (Comment 31) :

    MAKES two of us :grin:

  • Comment 33, posted at 12.06.08 19:45:28 by KSA Shark © Reply

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  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 33) : Patience! Will be along shortly

  • Comment 34, posted at 12.06.08 19:53:50 by robdylan Reply
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