The Boks saw off a plucky Argentine outfit to the tune of 27-6 in their Rugby Championship opener on Saturday, but to say the performance fell a little short of expectations, given the opposition, would be an understatement. Let’s look at the individuals concerned.
1) Beast Mtawarira. A busy and effective game at loosehead, marked by a strong scrum performance against top opposition and some decent carries. 6/10
2) Bismarck du Plessis. Went off after only 5 minutes, poor lad.
3) Jannie du Plessis. Stood his man against the hugely experienced Roncero and provided solidity to the Bok scrum. 6/10
4) Eben Etzebeth. Disappeared a little, I felt, and made little impact as a ball carrier. 5/10
5) Andries Bekker. Despite Victor Matfield’s sideline opinion that Dries had put in a “man of the match” performance, I saw little to write home about other than some bog-standard line-out takes from a guy who’s a head taller than anyone else on the field. 5/10
6) Marcell Coetzee. The Bok Energizer bunny was everywhere and scored a cracking try to boot. Was also the only forward to make any impact with ball in hand. 8/10
7) Willem Alberts. Massive on defence as usual, but struggled to make much impact as a ball carrier. 6/10
8) Keegan Daniel. Made a few important tackles and also put in some valuable touches, with his linking skills coming to the fore. 6/10
9) Francois Hougaard. A far better game from the scrumhalf, with much improved service and some nice running once he moved to wing. 7/10
10) Morne Steyn. Goal-kicking was again pinpoint and showed some quick wits to set up Habana’s try. The line outside him, though, caught a cold all day but that’s probably the way he was told to play. 7/10
11) Lwazi Mvovo. Tried hard in all that he did and managed a few nice runs, but the backs didn’t see enough of the ball for him to be used to best effect. 6/10
12) Frans Steyn. Had very little to do on the day, which is bizarre for an inside centre. Frans got no ball in anything resembling a decent position and had to contend with alternating between big defence and bashing it up. 6/10
13) Jean de Villiers. Truly awful performance from the captain. Showed nothing on attack and was regularly penalised for holding on in contact. 4/10
14) Bryan Habana. Had a quiet game apart from a moment of magic that resulted in the Boks’ third try. 6/10
15) Zane Kirchner. An assured performance at fullback from a man who, while not loved outside of Pretoria, probably deserves a little more respect than he tends to get. 7/10
16) Adriaan Strauss. Busy busy busy, yet lacked the desired impact. Atter tends to pop up in the right places a lot and runs great supporting lines, but certainly doesn’t challenge the defence the way Bismarck does. 7/10
17) Pat Cilliers. A decent enough debut and held the scrum up well whilst he was on. 6/10
18) Flip van der Merwe. Another player who tends to accumulate test jerseys without doing much at all whilst wearing them. 5/10
19) Jacques Potgieter. Flew into everything he could see, with wild locks flowing freely, but really needs to add some accuracy to the intensity. 6/10
20) Ruan Pienaar. Added real impetus and unpredictability to the staid Bok backline when he got on. Surely must start next week? 7/10
21) Pat Lambie. Unused. On a day when the Boks lacked creativity at the back, Lambie languished on the bench. I mean, WTF?
22) JJ Engelbrecht. Had few opportunities, but did little to either inspire or annoy, which is a reasonable enough return from a 10-minute debut performance. 5/10