Gents, this just might be the very beginning of the end of my faith…
Now, you all know that I’m possibly one of the biggest fans of Peter de Villiers that you’re likely to find. I was completely behind his appointment as I honestly believed he was the best guy for the job at the time. In a lot of ways, I really still do, but dammit, man – he’s got to pull finger a little! I was quite prepared to accept that the failings in the Tri-Nations were mostly due to the players not implementing the coach’s game plan (which Ian Macintosh will tell you is no fun for a coach) but it’s now starting to get a little ridiculous.
Either the coach must pick a team that suits his style, or he must coach a style that suits his team. Either way, we need to get everyone humming the same tune – and fast! The Boks are not playing like a team at the moment and are managing to avoid defeat through individual supremacy over their opposition. The synergy is not there and I fear for them coming up against England next week.
I’ve been pretty quiet when it comes to selection, being prepared to rather wait and see how things pan out before openly condemning some of the stranger picks. I’m afraid the evidence is now pretty clear to see – Brian Mujati is no international quality tighthead. As much as I endorse the experiment of moving John Smit one position over – I think it’s one that will deliver long-term benefits to the Boks, the Sharks and Smit himself – it is frankly madness to go on tour without decent tighthead cover in the squad. You simply cannot afford the situation where you do not have two capable tighthead options in your match 22. If I were the coaching staff, I would get the Doctor over to the UK immediately, regardless of the state of fitness of his little brother.
Ruan Pienaar is looking the business at flyhalf, there’s no doubt about that, but without Fourie du Preez at scrumhalf, the backline really does lose a huge deal of momentum. Ricky Januarie is one of those players who is either very good or woeful – never anywhere in between. Again, having no scrumhalf cover anywhere in the squad (except for Pienaar who has his hands full with his other duties) just makes no sense. I guess the cardinal rule here is that you ALWAYS have to have a hooker and a scrumhalf on the bench. it doesn’t matter if you have utility players elsewhere on the field that can cover these positions. Shifting around in game is always going to disrupt your continuity.
So now we have the situation where we have a squad carrying two serious injuries at hooker and scrumhalf. If we move Smit back to hooker, we have no tighthead. If we leave Smit at tighthead, we have to pick the greenhorn Ralepelle to start against England, with no backup. I say no backup because throwing Mujati in against Andrew Sheridan at any point in the game will be nothing short of suicide. To make matters worse, there is an injury cloud over Gürthro Steenkamp’s head as well. So, outside of Mujati, we have one fit prop!
The scrumhalf situation now looks equally dire. Assuming Fourie du Preez does not recover, we will be forced to persevere with Januarie at scrumhalf, or else move Pienaar back to 9 and open up a whole new can of worms. Frans Steyn or Earl Rose at flyhalf against the Poms? I’d rather take the former, thank you very much (why is Rose even on this tour?) bit it’s still not something that would fill me with confidence.
At least we have plenty of outside backs! The horribly out-of-touch Habana can be replaced by any of Odwa Ndungane, Jongi Nokwe or even Jacque Fourie. Man, I wonder if any of them can play tighthead?Tweet