The next few weeks will demonstrate whether Springbok No 8 Pierre Spies is “Superman or a show pony”, according to a British media report.
Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer reports:
Rugby scribe Nick Cain, writing for The Times website on Monday, raised the temperature ahead of the three-Test series against the British and Irish Lions by suggesting the bang-in-form Bulls tearaway may not be quite the phenomenon he is touted as in South Africa.
“There are a few dissenting voices down here (in South Africa) who say he is not the Superman the Springbok hierarchy will have you believe he is,” Cain said.
“They suggest he is more suited to Sevens, often goes missing when the going gets tough, and misses far too many tackles for an international No 8.”
Cain will have ruffled further feathers with this statement: “His bodybuilder’s physique has led to him being dogged by speculation over steroid use in a country where there have been numerous high-profile rugby busts for performance-enhancing drugs over the last 20 years.
“The rumours, which Spies categorically rejects, have persisted since his withdrawal from the Springbok squad before the 2007 World Cup with a pulmonary embolism which threatened his rugby future.
“There is something of the Frankenstein experiment about the way South African conditioning experts and coaches talk about his apparent superhuman physical prowess.”
Cain said it was unfortunate that Lions back-rowers like Stephen Ferris, Tom Croft (both 23, like Spies) and Jamie Heaslip, “the frontrunner for the Lions No 8 Test jersey”, would not have the chance to measure themselves against Spies before the Test series.
“The word is that Ferris’s Irish team-mates deliberately steer clear of the blindsider in training sessions because the Ulsterman’s tackling is never less than brutal.
So far, no such news has filtered through from the South African camp about Spies, and we will have to wait until the Test series to find out whether the Boks have unearthed a Superman, or a show-pony speedster.”Tweet