Rory Kockott has been, somewhat surprisingly, overlooked for not only the Springbok squad, but also the Emerging Boks team to play the British and Irish Lions. Given the season that he’s had, it’s a strange call, to say the least.
There’s a lot of speculation doing the rounds, of course. Surely, as one of the form scrumhalves in the competition, as well as one of the most reliable goal-kickers, Kockott should be a shoe-in – certainly ahead of the out-of-form (and overwieght) Ricky Januarie? How can he seriously miss out on an Emerging Bok spot to Heini Adams, the promising Bulls reserve scrumhalf who nevertheless enjoyed virtually no Super 14 gametime this season?
There must be more to this, surely. Can it be something to do with de Villiers’ muttered comments about Kockott being a little selfish? Can his disciplinary record – including a yellow card for an off-the-ball tackle against the Blues and that infamous red card for slapping Adam Thompson – be a factor behind his ommission? Whatever the case, Kockott is clearly doing something wrong in the eyes of the national selectors and it’s something he’ll need to put right in order to stand any chance of representing his country.
Things like this often serve as a message or wake-up call for a player and represent a good opportunity to learn something about his play and the way he is perceived by the broader rugby establishment. For Rory Kockott, the big test of his character will be how he chooses to react to this snub. There’s the petulant, Schalk Brits approach (pick me or I’ll go overseas), which admittedly must seem a very enticing one for Kockott right now. Let’s face it, he wouldn’t struggle to get a contract with any of the Aussie Super 14 teams and the fact that he could still qualify to play for Australia in the future would make that even more compelling. I’m sure his briefcase is full of offers from the UK and France too – just like virtually every other Super 14 player’s.
The other option, though, is to grit it out and try to fix the problem. We saw how Ruan Pienaar reacted to being left out of the Bok squad – he went back to his province and sorted his game out from the ground up. For Kockott, it might not be as easy, though, since he is not really in bad form. He just needs to try and figure out what he’s doing wrong and how to fix it. To my mind, what he needs to do is have a frank discussion with Peter de Villiers, or perhaps even Ian McIntosh as a selector, to identify which aspects of his game (or perhaps even his attitude) need to be improved in order to be reconsidered for national selection. He then needs to agree on a plan that involves John Plumtree and the Sharks coaching staff, to rectify those areas.
It’s the harder of the two roads, but if Kockott wants to be a Bok, it’s the one he’s going to have to follow. I for one hope that he does, because I’d hate to lose him. It’s up to you, Rory Kockott.Tweet