In a move sure to ruffle a feather or two, the noises coming out of the Bok camp this week suggest that Bulls man Wynand Olivier will start at inside centre against England this weekend.
Not, I might add, that this news should really surprise anyone. Coach Heyneke Meyer set out his stall pretty early on when it came to how he sees the centre options; that he rates what Olivier brings to the table is no secret. While many of the unwashed masses – this writer among them – were far from impressed with what the Bulls man had to show in coming off the bench for the last two weeks, our opinion unfortunately counts for little if it doesn’t correspond with the coach’s.
We’ve known all along that Frans Steyn wouldn’t be in the mix this week and I guess since Olivier is the man in possession – and knows all the calls – it’s a low risk option to play him. Defence coach John McFarland, speaking to Beeld, has been quick to defend the decision, pointing at Olivier’s good work on defence in the second test, against the brutish Manu Tuilagi.
The problem with replacing Steyn, though, is that he offers so much more on attack than Olivier does, while not standing back an inch on defence either. Olivier’s challenge this weekend will be to show that he can dominate in the tackle the way Steyn does, while still adding meaningful thrust to the backline with ball in hand. The “hands of glue” approach that has been his stock in trade at Super Rugby level for so many years simply isn’t going to cut the mustard in the Test arena, so let’s hope that Wynand has something else up his sleeve (or tucked away safely in his manbag) to surprise us with this week.
No call has yet been made on either Willem Alberts or Pat Lambie, with Jacques Potgieter and Gio Aplon respectively likely to benefit should either be ruled out.Tweet