If the talk is to be believed, Adrian Jacobs is poised to take over from the departing Jean de Villiers at inside centre for the Springboks. It’s hardly surprising, given that Bok coach Peter de Villiers used Jacobs at 12 back in the duo’s Valke days, with great success.
Now, assuming that the move does indeed happen and that Adi (once again) manages to silence his (ridiculously numerous and vocal) detractors by putting in some good performances in Green 12, what implications would there be for the Sharks? We saw last year that, the moment Adi got into the Bok starting lineup regularly, he immediately leapfrogged all other contenders for the Sharks number 13 jersey. Can we expect the same to happen again?
For the record, I happen to think Jacobs would make a fine inside centre, particularly on attack. His dynamism, pace of the mark and quick hands are just what you want in one of your key play-making positions, even though the inevitable question marks over his defence will always remain in the minds of those who have already decided that he can’t tackle, despite all evidence to the contrary.
My concern, though, is that the Sharks don’t really need another inside centre, while our outside centre stocks are quite alarmingly thin. If Adi does indeed claim the Sharks 12 jersey (which would be his right if he plays there for the Boks) then we need to start doing some serious re-organisation of the backline. In particular, we find ourselves really hoping that Waylon Murray comes right in the number 13 jersey.
If Jacobs stays at outside centre, then we can use Rory Kockott, Ruan Pienaar and Juan Hernández at 9,10 and 12 respectively. That would be a pretty exciting axis, no doubt – all players equally adept at the running and kicking game. Assuming Louis Ludick joins the Sharks as reported, he would form an exciting back three with JP Pietersen and either Odwa Ndungane or Stefan Terblanche, depending on which of them is in better form. Murray gives us some good bench options, together with Riaan Swanepoel and a host of others, including the Cronjé twins.
If we move Adi one spot closer to the actions, however, we’re suddenly scratching our heads as to what do with Hernández, or, if we decide to let the Argie play flyhalf, how to accommodate Pienaar and Kockott in the same 15. Hernández may well go to fullback, in that case, which might seem a perfect solution if Terblanche doesn’t carry on. The Ludick situation is a big unknown, but assuming he does make the move, what will we do with him? I’d like to see him start at fullback because I feel he will be a Bok in that position before long, but perhaps he’ll need to be eased into the team off the bench.
This second scenario does leave us with no option other than Murray at outside centre, though, unless we opt to once again press one of our inside centre options, such as Swanepoel or Strauss, into service as a makeshift 13. Neither has the pace to make it at outside centre at Super 14 level, though.
What do you think, fans? Which position would suit Adi best, within the context of the greater team dynamic?Tweet