Retired England international Austin Healey has caused a stir with his analysis of South Africa’s flyhalf resources – listing new Leicester Tigers recruit Derick Hougaard as the country’s best and incumbent Springbok pivot Butch James as “the worst international No.10″.
Healey, nicknamed ‘The Leicester Lip’ for his outspoken nature, did not hide the fact that he thinks Hougaard is better than James, who plays for Bath.
James joined the English Premiership club, Bath, after South Africa’s victorious World Cup campaign in France last year and helped the club win the European Challenge Cup earlier this year.
Rugby 365 reports that Hougaard recently announced that he will join former mentor Heyneke Meyer at the Tigers in the forthcoming season, as a replacement for England flyhalf Andy Goode, who has joined Brive.
According to Healey, who played in 237 games for the Tigers, the Leicester-based outfit got a very good deal with Hougaard.
“I have seen bits of Hougaard and he looks quite good,” the 34-year-old utility back told the Leicester Mercury.
“He’s better than Butch James, who I think is the worst international 10 around,” added Healy, who famously once called Wallaby lock Justin Harrison a “plank” during the British and Irish Lions’ 2001 tour to Australia.
Healy, who also has 51 England Test caps, played in the first two internationals between the Lions and Wallabies, before a knee injury ruled him out of the decider.
The frank assessment of South Africa’s flyhalf resources come at a time when James’ slide in form has been put in the spotlight in his native South Africa.
There has even been reports that Sharks utility Ruan Pienaar might play in the Springbok No.10 jersey when South Africa face Argentina in a one-off Test in Johannesburg next month.
James’ form slump apart, the comparison with Hougaard is interesting, as the two will meet in the Guinness Premiership and Heineken Cup competitions when the European season gets underway later this year.
Hougaard, who has been overlooked by new Bok coach Peter de Villiers, has played the last of his eight Tests for the Boks against New Zealand in Christchurch last year – having made his debut for South Africa against Uruguay at the 2003 World Cup tournament in Australia.
James, who made his Bok debut two years before Hougaard, against France in Johannesburg in 2001, has appeared in all but one of the six internationals since De Villiers took over in January – including the 9-16 loss to the Wallabies in Perth earlier this month.
James has 31 Test caps to his credit and holds a World Cup-winners’ medal.Tweet