Johann Muller has apparently been cited for a high-tackle on Cheetahs hooker Richardt Strauss. If found guilty, he looks set to be banned for at least part of the end-of-year tour.
Now, I’d like to point out that despite speculation to the contrary, Muller did not flatten Strauss as retribution for the latter’s brother (Sharks centre Andries) being such a limited player. I for one was very pleased to see the hooker targeted (although I would never condone foul play) because it implied that the Sharks had done their homework and found a weak link in the Cheetahs squad. The Cheetahs had no reserve hooker on the bench and were forced to play number 8 Ashley Johnson in that position. Not that the Sharks gained any advantage in the final analysis, but that’s not the point.
Now, according to a typically speculative article on Voldy, Muller is (or was) earmarked to be (one of) the leader(s) of the Bok midweek team for the end of year tour. I cannot think of anything that would be less in the player’s interests right now and should he be handed a suspension, it would, to my mind, be a blessing in disguise.
Fact is, Muller has been average all season. He’s been playing like a guy whose heart just isn’t in it and who needs a break to get his mind and body right. His broken arm is clearly still bothering him, as could be seen from the lacklustre performance he put in against the Cheetahs this weekend and after five seasons of top rugby without a break, Muller is a man desperately in need of a holiday.
Apart from everything else, he is not currently anywhere near the top of the pile when it comes to locking options. At five, all of Victor Matfield, Andries Bekker and Anton van Zyl are in better form, whilst Bakkies Botha, Danie Rossouw, Steven Sykes and even David de Villiers look better options at four. A player like Sykes would benefit hugely from going on a Bok midweek tour. For Muller, there would be no benefit at all, as far as I can see.
Muller is going to have to really make a big push in 2010. Gerhardt Mostert has arrived in Durban and is already in training and if I were selecting a lock combination on current form, Sykes and Mostert would be the guys I’d choose. Muller will have a real battle on his hands making sure he stays in the run-on team and he needs rest, both physically and mentally, if he’s to be able to compete and do himself justice once the new season starts.
Hopefully – and I really mean this – he will be allowed to work on his own game without shouldering the additional burden of a captain’s armband that really should belong to John Smit.Tweet