Having watched both teams I support submit to narrowish but equally dumb losses this last weekend, I found myself pondering some points. I have set them down below for your scorn or enjoyment… one for each position on the field and of course one for the coach.
- There is a gaping chasm between the quality of Jannie, Beast and the rest of the available SA props. Considering how average both starting Bok props have been of late, this is cause for serious concern. Pat is an honest hardworking prop, effective in the tight-loose, but his scrumming is up there with Al Baxter’s, and let’s not even get started with the Bulls duo.
- Have the Boks ever missed a player more than they are missing Bismark right now? Even the most die-hard fans up in Hades, sorry I mean the Free State must be admitting that now. That’s not to say Strauss is bad. I’m a fan. He fills me with confidence sitting on the bench watching the boys in green run onto the pitch, but Bissie is in a different class and single handedly provides the loose forward trio with balance regardless of who is picked.
- Sharks props are an interesting breed. Chadwick, like his team’s colours, is all black and white, hero or villain, nothing in between, whereas at the moment, Herbst is all grey. As for Redlinghuys, he wins this weeks Lwazi Mvovo award for the worst performance by a substitute player… oh wait, we haven’t got to Lwazi Mvovo yet.
- Juandre Kruger, giant of Loftus, got towed 10 meters in conceding a try to a Wallaby prop?? He would have been more effective falling down in front of Alexander, at least he may have tripped him up. He was admirably assisted in the weakest gang tackle in history by Lwazi Movo, but hang on we are still getting there.
- What was going through Etzebeth’s mind, pulling that lame pseudo-headbutt on Nathan Sharpe. With the SANZAR sighting commission the way it is, he will get 4 weeks despite not making contact. He would have done more damage to Sharpe’s psyche had he just leant forward and kissed him on the lips, and he would have gone home with Nigel Owens telephone number. (Etzebeth got a two week ban – Ed)
- Marcell Coetzee is the real deal. He made more tackles than any other player in a green jersey, popped up all over the field, and that is exactly why he will find himself on the bench next week as HM goes for a specialist fetcher in Flouw.
- Willem has lost his mojo. He has started falling off tackles again, hasn’t made the hard yards with the ball in hand and is showing why Plum put his faith in Kanko, Coetzee and Daniel in the super 15. To be honest, I feel the same way about Deysel, although the latter has been more effective in the lower tier rugby competition. They need to step up and prove they are not one trick ponies.
- I like Duane Vermeulen. There, I said it. For those complaining he isn’t match fit, name me one other player you would have picked ahead of him for this game? The sad thing is, SA finally gets a break in Spies getting injured, and none of the players in waiting have grabbed their chance. Kanko, why did you go??!! Having said that, maybe it’s a good thing HM doesn’t get his claws into him while he is in good form.
- SA are missing Fourie du Preez. When SA don’t have a general at 9, things go badly as most SA 10s of the last 2 decades have made Forrest Gump look like a tactical genius. For the Sharks, its also time to give Reinach an extended run. Its not that McLeod has been bad, its just that we know what we have with him, and its rarely above average.
- Maybe its because of what is waiting in the wings, maybe its because Im sick of feeling like I need to wash my eyes out with bleach after every Bok game, but I haven’t felt this strongly about euthanizing a rugby player since Jaco van der Westhuizen claimed THAT attempted drop goal during the 49-0 hammering against the Aussies or since Louis Koen pulled on a green and gold jersey. Morne, if your pimp wont pull you off the streets, do the honourable thing and fall on your sword, please, we beg you.
- Hougaard is a wing. Now try passing him the ball instead of getting him to chase up and unders all game. He may be a wing, but he’s also a hobbit. I don’t see him out competing any ABs for the ball in the air. Regarding JP Pietersen, see comments about Bissie. We miss you, enough said.
- Get well Tim Whitehead. The Sharks backline hasn’t looked the same without you. Again, the supporting cast is solid, but dare I say uninventive, unimaginative and predictable. But enough about Riaan Viljoen…
- Still think the Boks aren’t missing Jaque Fourie? When your backline is being run by a one-dimensional cart horse who has lost his one dimension, it doesn’t help having 2 inside centres on the park.
- Lwazi, Lwazi, Lwazi… given an opportunity to regain your starting place you firmly cemented your position in Currie Cup rugby. For those lamenting the fact that the Sharks are missing so many players to the Bok setup, fear not, its about to be one less.
- See Zane catch, see Zane kick, see Zane run, but not very far. Again, its probably unfair to pick on sideshow Bob as he wasn’t the worst player on the park this last week, but with Lambie, Ludick, Taute and Aplon do we have to keep settling for 5th best?
- Being a good Super rugby coach doesn’t translate into being a good national coach, just ask Dingo. HM is virtually a god on the Highveld, but his recent work with the Boks has been bordering on sacrilegious. I still think he can turn it around, but my unbridled enthusiasm post de Villiers has been somewhat dampened. Conversely, I think the Sharks coaches should catch a break. For all the criticism levelled at Bashford and Reece-Edwards, which SA team played the most exciting rugby over the last half of the super rugby competition? The Sharks backline was broken, they fixed it. Give them some credit. The future is bright, if HM doesn’t ruin the Shark Boks first.