If there’s one thing I’ve learned about Peter de Villiers, it’s that he follows his own mind and back his players to the hilt. It’s for these reasons that I am virtually 100% sure that both Ruan Pienaar and Adrian Jacobs will be in the starting lineup when the Springbok team to face the All Blacks in Durban is announced.
In Pienaar’s case, the logic is simple. He’s the incumbent, he’s fit and he’s in good form. The Bok backline, for so long nothing more than a crude defensive instrument with the ability to score the occasional breakaway intercept try, is finally starting to look like a potent attacking weapon and I believe that Pienaar’s play at pivot has much to do with that. The fact is, for all Morné Steyn’s goal-kicking prowess, he is not in Pienaar’s league when it comes to all-round flyhalf play. It would be criminal to nobble the backline by playing Steyn as first-choice, especially now that the attacking game is finally starting to come off.
Goal-kicking is important, sure, but it’s not like there are no other options in the team anyway. Pienaar has shown that he is able to kick with 80% reliability and Frans Steyn also succeeded with two kicks on Saturday. I would let the fullback be the first-choice kicker and let Pienaar take over from him only if Steyn misses a few. The other Steyn will still be on the bench so by the time Pienaar and Frans Steyn have missed three between them, by all means, bring on the Bull and hide him on the wing where he can do the least damage.
As for Jacobs – to my mind, the logic is again simple. He was the incumbent, he had to miss a test due to injury and he’s now fit again. Had his replacement, Jaque Fourie, delivered the sort of performance last weekend to make it absolutely impossible to drop him, then I would argue that Jacobs would need to “wait in line”. Fact is, though, that apart from scoring a pretty straightforward try, which Jacobs or anyone else could have done, Fourie produced a very ordinary display on Saturday. His defence, handling and discipline were all found wanting at various stages during the game, making something of a mockery of his claim to be the “best number 13 in the world”.
We all know that Peter de Villiers’ first-choice Bok backline includes Ruan Pienaar at flyhalf and Adrian Jacobs at centre. Will the coach back his instincts, as he usually does, or give into the rabid mainstream media pressure to pick the side that THEY want? I know where my money is.Tweet