Jake White says he would pick Schalk Burger before Heinrich Brussow. The former Bok coach was giving his opinion on the current team ahead of the Test against Australia in Perth later this month.
Craig Ray writes for www.thetimes.co.za
Burger is serving an eight-week suspension for reckless play, and in his absence the diminutive Brussow has performed superbly for the Boks.
But White, who coached Burger from 2002, when the flanker was 19, says that Brussow does not offer the same qualities.
“If you’re going to change a side you have to ask yourself whether it will improve the side,” White told The Times.
“In the case of Schalk Burger it most definitely will.”
“I wouldn’t have picked Brussow, but I also have to admit he has done well. But Schalk is one of the best players in the world and he has been one of the best for the past five years. He hasn’t suddenly become a bad player,” White said.
“I put a premium on the lineout and Burger will win that battle hands down over Brussow. He jumps well and the most overlooked aspect is the lifting he does at the lineout.
“Though I don’t use the term ‘fetcher’, for lack of a better word, Burger is able to do that job as well.
“Perhaps with the team at such an advanced stage of its development it can afford the luxury of having a flank the size of Brussow, but when I was coaching we certainly didn’t have that luxury.”
Brussow is only 1.81m tall against Burger’s 1.96m. But the Free Stater has punched above his weight at the breakdown with both New Zealand’s Richie McCaw and Australia’s George Smith.
Both players are considered the best at the job and Brussow was able to make life uncomfortable for them.
But before recent matches against the Boks, McCaw and Smith agreed that South Africa would miss Burger’s physicality and while it never showed because Brussow was so effective, it indicates how highly rated Burger is by his peers.
“Schalk has been voted the best player in the world in the past, but would Brussow ever win that award? I doubt it,” White said. “It will be interesting to see if the coach selects him in Australia.
“It’s simply a question of ‘is he good enough or not?’ and if he isn’t, then why is he going on tour? Schalk has been selected to do a job and he should be allowed to do it.
“I’ve read reports that suggest Schalk might have to vie for a place with Juan Smith in the No7 shirt. If that’s the thinking, and I don’t know for sure that it is, then they’re mad.
“Why change something that isn’t broken? Schalk is an openside flank and Brussow is an openside flank and the choice must be between the two of them for the No6 jersey.”Tweet