Why don’t we as South Africans back our youngsters?
After listening to Reds coach, Phil Mooney, I realized that South Africans would rather criticize their players, especially youngsters, than back them.
South African rugby has one of the largest player pools in the world, second only to England. This means that as a rugby playing nation we have a wealth of talent continually coming through and compared to a nation like Australia, it actually becomes embarrassing to see how many talented players we have.
How is it though that we continually struggle for depth in competitions like the Super 14?
Coach Mooney mentioned in the post match press conference that some of his Reds players that played on Friday evening have more Super 14 caps than club caps! This is a shocking statistic if you look at how close they came to beating one of the better and richer franchises in the competition on Friday night.
It is also not a case of only the media and supporters not backing our young talent, but also that of the coaches.
I heard Rassie mention in the very same media conference that if the Stormers are to be successful, they will need to utilize their whole squad through this competition and rotate players. It is something that is said quite often by all coaches every year, but we rarely see this applied unless there is serious injury to first choice players.
In South Africa we have the youngest ever World Cup winner in Frans Steyn, who is part of a new generation of players which includes youngsters like JP Pietersen, Jean Deysel, Morné Steyn, Peter Grant, Ruan Pienaar, Nick Koster, Burton Francis, the Ebherson twins, Chiliboy and too many to mention. And although some of them are first choice players within their franchise, we see many of them being shunted around the team playing out of position, or at best coming off the bench. This even after many agree and believe that they are better than the current first choice players who have ‘more experience’.
Perhaps it is because of these riches in players and player numbers (and Australia’s lack of it) that they are in fact more adapt, and more keen to back youngsters in big competitions like the Super 14.
Now of course I do not believe we should discard the older, more experienced players in place of talented youngsters - after all, you cannot coach experience.
What I am saying though is that rather than bashing or over-analyzing our youngsters when they make the step up, let’s rather back them to perform and thereby instill confidence in these players that will take the place of our current superstars in the not too distant future.Tweet