What a pity Peter de Villiers’s World Cup stars took nine Tests to finally strike top form.
Jacques van der Westhuyzen writes in The Mercury that while certain individuals performed consistently well throughout the season, too many players, especially those who were part of the World Cup campaign last year, took too long to produce the kind of rugby their coach would have expected of them.
Had all De Villiers’s players been in the kind of form they displayed at Coca-Cola Park on Saturday, it could easily have been the Boks claiming the title at the weekend, and not simply finishing a poor competition on a high. One of the main reasons why the Boks were as dominant as they were is because the senior players finally shaped up.
But it was not only they, but the whole squad who, after nine rather mediocre performances in the previous Tests this season, showed just what a talented, powerful and skilful bunch they were.
For some many years now Australia have been jealous of the talent pool available to the Springboks, and it is for this reason that the defeats in Cape Town and Durban were so perplexing.
Perhaps only two Australians – Matt Giteau and Stirling Mortlock – would find a place in the Bok side were they South Africans. But make the majority of the current Bok squad available to Robbie Deans and he would pick many more than just two players. That is the difference in class between the players from South Africa and Australia.
But up to Saturday, one would never have thought so.
A number of Boks had their best matches of the season. Juan Smith and Pierre Spies were huge in all areas, Fourie du Preez looked settled and Butch James kicked well and varied his game.
Then there was Conrad Jantjes, who has not played better for the Boks. He was assured under the high ball, kicked well and attacked superbly.
Even without C J van der Linde, the Bok scrum looked a hit. Brian Mujati was solid at tight head and Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira is growing in stature with every game he plays.
Andries Bekker has been a very competent replacement for Bakkies Botha, Schalk Burger is always a factor, while on Saturday Jongi Nokwe announced himself as a player opposition defences will have to watch closely. Odwa Ndungane was outstanding in every department and fully deserved his try, and Jean de Villiers and Adrian Jacobs – despite the team’s ups and downs – have by far been the Tri-Nations’ most lethal midfield pairing. They were simply superb on Saturday.
Now add John Smit, Bakkies Botha, Ryan Kankowski, Peter Grant, Jaque Fourie, Frans Steyn, Bryan Habana and J P Pietersen to the mix, and let’s not forget Danie Rossouw and Ruan Pienaar, and the Boks should be a handful at the end of the year – and every time they play.Tweet