The most disappointing thing about yesterday’s catastrophic loss to the All Blacks had nothing to do with Peter de Villiers, or any new players he had brought into the set up. It was the absolute inability of the Boks “hard core” of experienced players to put up their hands when needed that was the most worrying aspect.
It starts, of course, with Victor Matfield, who has shown, time and again, that he just plain does not have what it takes to be Bok captain. Matfield has always been one to shirk in the tight; the added burden of captaincy seems to give him licence to saunter around the park like a striding colossus, never once stooping to the level of actually participating in a maul, God forbid hitting a ruck. Usually a commanding force in the lineout, the Bearded Nowhere Man lost his own ball in that phase too and failed quite dismally in rallying his troops, much less having a meaningful dialogue with referee Matt Goddard when things started to go against us.
Matfield has grown complacent and soft languishing in the French Second Division. His own game is no longer strong enough to command a position in the Bok 22 and he has the captaincy skills of a dead newt, so why must we continue to carry him? Send him back to Loftus where maybe the blue horde will make up a new song and make him believe his own hype for just a little while longer. Andries Bekker, played out of position at 4, showed Matfield up in every possible way, not least of which his hunger!
Juan Smith is another veteran who simply disappeared. Smith was great at the World Cup last year, but has been anonymous in every test he has played this year. Surely the point of picking a 50-tester in your side is that he will bring that experience out when required, when things aren’t going your way? One got the feeling yesterday that Smith was yet another member of the “senior player core” who just simply threw in the towel after 20 minutes.
Fourie du Preez and Butch James are another worry. Neither seemed able to shake themselves out of the absolute mire into which their respective games have descended. Butch is starting to look worryingly like he’s seen the end of his own Bok road, while du Preez should be playing his way back into form in the Currie Cup. Third game back from injury, starting scrumhalf against the All Blacks? Maybe a bridge too far. We are up shit creek, though, when it comes to the halfbacks. Neither scrumhalf is playing at all well – hell, maybe Ruan may get his wish sooner than anticipated. As for flyhalf, outside of Butch, there is literally nothing to choose from, since Peter Grant is injured and Steyn simply not up to it. Don’t even get me started on the latter, please, as he is just such an utter dog’s breakfast at the moment he would struggle to make the Stellenbosch 7ths.
Percy is another oke who just simply folded when we needed him to dig deep. Great to have you on 100, Perce, but I think it’s time for you to stroll on back to your mountain and see out your days at the Western Province Retirement Home for Former Greats. Maybe you and AJ can share a room?
Hats off to the few youngsters in the Bok team who tried out there, to Beast, Bissie, Andries and JP. Bryan and Adi did some good things, while Jean only just escapes the sharp end of my tongue this week. CJ did what he needed to do in the scrums, while Schalk and Pierre were busy, yet ineffective.
I feel a purge is on the cards. Time to see if the next tier, guys who maybe don’t have quite as many caps, perhaps have a little bit more hunger?Tweet