Morné

The real issue with depth


Written by Morné Nortier (Morné)

Posted in :Original Content, Springboks on 28 Jul 2010 at 11:48
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When a team loses as badly as the Springboks have done in recent weeks there are millions of theories around to try and answer why.  I have my own, but it is very different from what has been suggested so far…

So how can a team that dominated world rugby in 2009 fall behind so quickly and so spectacularly?  What has changed?  There has not been that many injuries to players to suggest this can be the sole cause has there?  Our Super 14 campaign has also proven that two teams, with very different strategies dominated the Aussies and Kiwi’s and no, referees are also not to blame!

But something is different or missing, and after watching Saturday’s loss against the Aussies something dawned on me, it is not really who we lost, and in what positions we lost players, it is more the ‘type’ of player that we lost.

When I looked back at 2009 when things were quite rosy for the Springboks and compared it to the rubbish I saw in the last 3 weeks I was reminded of what a coach I studied under once told me; ‘Without momentum created or maintained for extensive parts of the game, you can forget about winning’.

The issue about momentum is quite a broad topic and although it can be influenced from the outside like through officials of the game, it is largely controlled by the team itself.

Firstly it is done through the selection of players from match to match, either trying to maintain a certain type of momentum you might enjoy or to change the momentum your team currently experience.

Most importantly however the shifts in momentum in a match is where it really counts.

For my money the Springboks found out exactly what worked for them as a team in 2009, and where I believe we failed is trying to identify players to fill a position in the case of injury, rather than identifying the correct type of player to execute what we want, and do well as a team.

In short, we got the issue of developing or identifying depth all wrong.

Where we are currently looking for a guy to fill numbers 2, 7 or 9 (or any number on a jersey) where we should have identified a Bismarck type player, or another Juan Smith or Fourie du Preez.

And forget about the commonly referred to ‘kick-chase’ game-plan the media loves to go on about – in 2009 the Boks managed to play a devastatingly powerful game with scoring some spectacular tries of first phases as –well as phased play.

The point is players like Bismarck, Bakkies, Juan, Brussow, Fourie du Preez and even Frans Steyn were able to create and maintain momentum for the team, or either change momentum in an instant like Frans’ exploits with his boot, from which the glory poster boys like Morne Steyn, Jean, Bryan and Jaque Fourie could feed off to win games.

So where we suddenly looked for players to fill a position only, we should have identified players who could ensure we would enjoy the same momentum we did in most games in 2009.

I guess what I am trying to say is that in rugby, filling a position or building depth is not just a numbers game, like finding a 15 for a 15, but more finding a ‘momentum player’ when you lose one.

These also do not have to be position specific, but it is essential that you identify these type of players in areas of a team crucial to build and maintain momentum.

This will be areas like the scrum (tight 5 and front row), line-out (hooker and second row), breakdown (loose-forwards to create or maintain momentum on attack and defence) and your halfbacks (controlling the ball you get effectively).

If you have the luxury to select game-breakers who can change a match in an instant like Frans Steyn, then even better.

In my personal view, players that performed that role for the Boks in 2009 were Bismarck (forward momentum with ball in hand and even turn-over skills in the breakdown), Bakkies & Juan (maintaining momentum on attack in cleaning rucks and ensuring good quality ball but also in defense changing momentum in your favour), Fourie du Preez (ensuring momentum is maintained through controlling quality possession).

Players that could turn momentum in a match in an instant in 2009 were players in the mould of Heinrich Brussow and Frans Steyn.

Currently, I am having real trouble identifying these type of players in the current setup.

So as far as I am concerned the Springboks perhaps, just perhaps failed to identify exactly what type of depth they need to identify and build on, which is not a position specific issue, but rather a specific breed of player to ensure we keep on doing what we did in 2009, and hopefully will be able to do again, in 2011.



34 Comments

  • ja… too many “also-ran” type of players in there who are ok in a great team, but not special enough to lift the team when in trouble. I’m thinking about the Oliviers, Kirchners and so on.

    Which genuine stars are up and coming in Bok town? Francois Louw and Dewald Potgieter are the two that have really impressed me, but it’s not like we need more depth at loose forward!

  • Comment 1, posted at 28.07.10 11:55:21 by robdylan Reply
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  • No quality at 6/9/12/15 is going to hurt you sometime.

  • Comment 2, posted at 28.07.10 11:55:47 by Oubaas2009 Reply

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  • Great arti Morne ….as always.

    Lets face it no one is going to beat the Bok at altitude and i think that means that the Bok will win at least 2 of there next 3.

    It is fairly obvious that opposition teams are upping the tempo not kicking it out and running a big, slow, old, Bok pack around.

    These tactics will be harder to pull off at altitude, but Bok success in these up coming matches may only paper over the cracks that will still be apparent once at sea level again.

    A new tactical approach and fresh legs are required urgently.

    Huge pressure on all involved in the Bok set up over the next month.

  • Comment 3, posted at 28.07.10 12:10:35 by Hertford Highlander Reply
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  • Not much wrong with our players – there is no ways those same guys who dominated the S14 so emphatically, schooling the other teams in the new interpretations of the laws, can become so kak in a matter of weeks! Dick Muir had the worst team in the S14, the last game was no better than first – he didnt improve one iota through the competition.
    The “boss” and his minnions need to take the rap for the state of the Bokke – poor player managment, poor team selectons, poor comprehension of the laws (hell if the S14 coaches get it, the national coaches have NO excuse!) no game plan, no structure, no defense… No wonder we have become the laughing stock of international rugby – PDV and Co have taken a team of brilliant skilled players and turned them into jokers.

    My bleeding green heart…. :sad:

  • Comment 4, posted at 28.07.10 12:18:36 by Just a Fan Reply

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  • its more a case of combinations. sa has the depth the coaches just don’t get the combinations right. the other problem is the union structure in sa where every union plays their own brand of rugby. when the players get together for the boks, they don’t gel. the biggest example of this is schalk and spies together. they both want to be ball carriers and neither is keen on getting the ball. in the next year the boks need to get a basic game plan and make sure every player from 1 to 40 fits into the style.

  • Comment 5, posted at 28.07.10 12:22:17 by try time Reply

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  • @Just a Fan (Comment 4) :

    I heard someone say once……

    …….’the stormers are rubbish’ lol ;-)

  • Comment 6, posted at 28.07.10 12:26:08 by Hertford Highlander Reply
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  • @Hertford Highlander (Comment 6) : Really…never heard that before… :grin:

  • Comment 7, posted at 28.07.10 12:28:01 by Just a Fan Reply

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  • @try time (Comment 5) :

    That’s an interesting point, i think the NZRFU have had a plan which of course no ones supports me on (funny that) :roll: !

    …that the AB selectors want all their key players (spine of their team) all playing in the same Super Franchise.

    ….and yes it’s the Crusaders !

    They rushed Zac Guildford in this year.

    …and next year Izzy Dagg, Adam Thomson and Sonny Bill Williams will be on the books.

    ….can only make me think that they will all feature in the 30 man squad at the RWC.

    ….it must help if they all play together in the Super 15 :idea:

  • Comment 8, posted at 28.07.10 12:31:28 by Hertford Highlander Reply
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  • @Just a Fan (Comment 7) :

    I know ….forget who said it ! :razz:

  • Comment 9, posted at 28.07.10 12:32:08 by Hertford Highlander Reply
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  • @Just a Fan (Comment 4) :

    Did u ever manage to have a look at the amount of missed tackles and handling errors in the last 3 tests??

    The coaches dont miss tackles or fumble the ball. The players need to take responsibility as well.

    Smit, Steyn, Matfield, Spies, Olivier, Januarie, BJ, Habana, Burger have all been well below their best.

    I personally think guys like Smit, Matfield, Burger,Habana, Steyn and Spies have all played a heluuva lot of rugby over the last 18 months and it is showing by their latest performances.

    As for Dick Muir and the criticism he gets, please point me in the direction of ANY coach that has performed well with the Lions since 2001??

    Laurie Mains was the last coach who actually did something with that useless union.

    Since then we’ve had Tim Lane, Chester, Ludeke, Loffie and Dick and not one of those coaches have succeeded.

    The common denominator is: You guessed it, the Lions!! They are CRAP!! Period!!

  • Comment 10, posted at 28.07.10 13:04:34 by wpw Reply
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  • @wpw (Comment 10) :

    Laurie Mains an Otago Legend…. I think he has just point appointed to a role in the Union !

    How much more Rugby have those players listed above had than the AB’s ?

    ….is it that much more…..what 1 game (Final Super 14) or do i have that wrong ? :???:

  • Comment 11, posted at 28.07.10 13:27:23 by Hertford Highlander Reply
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  • My biggest issue with the player management angle is that bokke shouldn’t be rested at international level, I know this argument has come up time and again. But the coach should be able to pick any player his heart desires, he shouldn’t have to worry about whether the S14/CC coaches have rested them or not. They should save their best for the Boks. Boks = #1 priority.

  • Comment 12, posted at 28.07.10 13:52:20 by molly Reply
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  • @Hertford Highlander (Comment 11) : Good point about the amount our players have played compared to the AB’s.

    But SA has a different policy on resting players. Our strategy is to give one of our players a 10 minute rest shortly after the start of every test :mrgreen:

  • Comment 13, posted at 28.07.10 13:56:30 by rhineshark Reply
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  • @rhineshark (Comment 13) : :lol:

  • Comment 14, posted at 28.07.10 14:10:00 by Pokkel Reply
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  • @rhineshark (Comment 13) : haha, that was excellent :lol:

  • Comment 15, posted at 28.07.10 14:10:29 by molly Reply
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  • @rhineshark (Comment 13) :

    I just hope we don’t try and emulate the World Champions approach ! :lol:

  • Comment 16, posted at 28.07.10 14:15:40 by Hertford Highlander Reply
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  • @Hertford Highlander (Comment 11) :

    British and Irish Lions series!! :roll:

    3 tough tests!!

  • Comment 17, posted at 28.07.10 14:21:29 by wpw Reply
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  • @rhineshark (Comment 13) : that’s in the running for comment of the week :)

  • Comment 18, posted at 28.07.10 14:23:08 by robdylan Reply
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  • @wpw (Comment 17) :

    I’m trying to remember how far back that was ….was that at the end of the last NH season 08′ which would have been at the beginning of the last years Super 14 …yeah.

    …fair go really that long ago….. has it really just caught up on them.

    …..definitely a new excuse needed….my suggestion give them all a rest for Seweto ! :mrgreen:

  • Comment 19, posted at 28.07.10 14:36:29 by Hertford Highlander Reply
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  • @ Rhineshark

    Awesome comment on the 10 minute rest.. You should win something for that!!

  • Comment 20, posted at 28.07.10 15:08:03 by Richard Ferguson Reply
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  • The real issue with depth…they just need to dig the hole deeper, problem solved :twisted:

  • Comment 21, posted at 28.07.10 15:50:34 by Charlie Reply

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  • @wpw (Comment 10) : yip – 2009 S14, Lions Tour, 3N, EOYT, 2010 S114, inbound tour – all along the same players. Matfield was even flown to Cardiff.

  • Comment 22, posted at 28.07.10 15:51:17 by rekinek (Go Klose!) Reply
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  • @wpw (Comment 17) : @Hertford Highlander (Comment 11) : 2 – the third one was a bit of :???:

    In between Boks were also involved in CC – I do not know whether ABs play at all in ITM – do they HH?

  • Comment 23, posted at 28.07.10 15:55:31 by rekinek (Go Klose!) Reply
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  • @rekinek (Go Klose!) (Comment 22) :

    …sounds a tough job. Maybe being a labourer would be easier! :lol:

  • Comment 24, posted at 28.07.10 15:56:23 by Hertford Highlander Reply
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  • @rekinek (Go Klose!) (Comment 23) :

    ….i think like the 20 contracted Bok they come back for the finals and wreck what seemed like a really exciting competition….a bit like what is happening to the Sharks on the weekend.

    …. however i do agree with them playing, i just don’t like there excuses when they get outplayed and cry….fatigue !

  • Comment 25, posted at 28.07.10 15:59:22 by Hertford Highlander Reply
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  • @Hertford Highlander (Comment 25) : i don’t like the excuses either – especially from coaches. If you kne they were fatiqued why did you put them there – ooops sorry..

    and we will see about the Sharks. Cheetahs will be fancing themselves though. However Cheetahs had very exhausting game against the Bulls last week so it might have drained them whilst the Sharks were clearly resting against Pumas.

  • Comment 26, posted at 28.07.10 16:02:48 by rekinek (Go Klose!) Reply
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  • have we ever had close to 100 points scored against us in 3 tests??

  • Comment 27, posted at 28.07.10 16:04:48 by ruggabugga Reply

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  • @Hertford Highlander (Comment 24) : it is :twisted: – that’s why having young men is a bonus. I am a bit worried that a core of boks team is bit aged. bit like English in 2007 – mind you they managed to get to the final and even beat France. :lol:

  • Comment 28, posted at 28.07.10 16:05:15 by rekinek (Go Klose!) Reply
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  • @ruggabugga (Comment 27) : when you take 2006 – there was 49 or 46 in one :roll: may have lift the average. :roll:

  • Comment 29, posted at 28.07.10 16:06:24 by rekinek (Go Klose!) Reply
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  • @rekinek (Go Klose!) (Comment 29) : yes in 2006 we took 185 against in 6 games ave of 30 some change we getting there (hope not a repeat!

  • Comment 30, posted at 28.07.10 16:08:59 by ruggabugga Reply

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  • @ruggabugga (Comment 30) : thing is that people starts comparing this year to 2006 and then the year later Boks won WC. But I’m not sure that the history is so repetitive.

  • Comment 31, posted at 28.07.10 16:14:43 by rekinek (Go Klose!) Reply
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  • @rekinek (Go Klose!) (Comment 31) : ups and downs,boks just need a new gameplan old one is stale now!

  • Comment 32, posted at 28.07.10 16:18:20 by ruggabugga Reply

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  • @rekinek (Go Klose!) (Comment 31) : rek are you german or just a fan?

  • Comment 33, posted at 28.07.10 16:19:14 by ruggabugga Reply

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  • @ruggabugga (Comment 33) : I’m a fan of Klose .. and Podolski … and Trochowski . so rest you can guess ;-)

  • Comment 34, posted at 28.07.10 16:22:39 by rekinek (Go Klose!) Reply
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