1. Jaco Taute
2. Patrick Lambie
3. Louis Ludik
4. Willie le Roux
5. Andries Coetzee
6. Jurgen Visser
7. Lionel Mapoe
8. Ryamond Rhule
9. Paul Jordaan
10. Tim Whitehead
11. Robert Ebersohn
12. JJ Engelbrecht
13. Jan Serfontein
14. Francois Venter
15. Marcell Brache
They’re not all fullbacks sitting on the bench every Saturday piling up rust… (or splinters for that matter) They’re not even all fullbacks, but in some way or another Zane Kirchner is getting in the way of their potential.
I think we can all agree that South Africa has plenty of young talented players at the moment. Whether you agree on the list I mentioned is another thing, but you must admit that a few of those names stand out as definite talents who could shine on the international stage.
Although Zane Kirchner has been competent at fullback whenever he has been asked to play for the Boks, he has not been any more than competent and is still lacking in most areas of his game. He is safe under the high ball and clears well from the back, but aside from that …
Most other aspects of his game are indeed lacking. He has been unwilling to run the ball back at the defence and has not shown the ability to counter attack. His defence, tackling and defensive positioning are lacking and his decision making, particularly with ball in hand as part of the back line, is below standard when compared to other international players and young players in South Africa.
I don’t think that these shortcomings are things that a player will be able to improve on markedly at 28 years of age. And in fact, aside from the defending aspect, I do not think that these are skills you simply coach into a player.
How do 6 fullbacks and 9 Centres have anything to do with Zane Kirchner though? Here’s how -
Louis Ludik, Andries Coetzee and Willie le Roux have all shown the type of form that indicates that they could be better options at 15 than Kirchner and it may be premature, but even Jurgen Visser looks like he has something special, who if given an opportunity could prove his worth. Taute and Lambie it seems have been earmarked for different positions in the Bok setup, but both these players, it has to be said, will gain more from exposure to game time at 15, than they would being left out in the cold.
That’s 6 young players that could be given an opportunity, one of them has to be better or have the potential to be a better option than the 28 year old competent but never excellent Zane Kirchner?
Excluding Ludik who is only 26, you have 5 young players (21.8 average age) who could potentially (given the opportunity) make a great fullback, include Lambie (who the Bok coaches have said they see only as a 15… or is that a bench warmer?).
Frans Steyn, who although I am a big fan of at 12, could also still add value at 15 (making that 7 better options at 15) and open up space for Jean de Villiers at 12 (his best position). Playing Jean in his best position will in turn open up the 13 jersey for many talented outside centres which includes Jaco Taute, Lionel Mapoe, Paul Jordaan, Tim Whitehead, JJ Engelbrecht, Robert Ebersohn, Ryamond Rhule (this adds up 12 young players not getting opportunities, because of Zane’s continued selection).
And if you don’t use Jean de Villiers at 12 in Steyn’s place, then young players like Tim Whitehead, Francois Venter, Marcel Brache … even Jan Serfontein can be given a chance at 12.
Making that 15 reasons. Now you may not agree on all of them, but take your pick, because I doubt that anyone can disagree on all 15.
Selecting a player of limited talent just because he has been “safe” is keeping so many players away from the Bok Jersey. In fact I just named 15 players who is more suited to the Bok jersey and who could become great players if given a chance. And all we need to do is leave “Average” at home.
This applies to every position! – Next Week 15 Reasons not to play an out of form scrumhalf at wing! (:Tweet