Richard Ferguson

Where to from here?


Written by Richard Ferguson (Richard Ferguson)

Posted in :Original Content, Springboks on 15 Oct 2013 at 10:57
Tagged with : , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Springboks have had one of their more successful seasons to date, having only lost twice to the All Blacks while beating Australia home and away, and keeping a clean record against Argentina in the Rugby Championship. That’s all great but what do we want to see from the Boks next?

Having lost only 2 of the last 12 matches, the Springboks are on an upward curve in terms of their results, but is it only the results that matter? Would you like to see something extra from the Springboks when they take on Wales, Scotland and France on the End of year tour?

As we saw during this tour last year, coach Heyneke Meyer is not the greatest fan of leaving all his stars at home, but it would be interesting to see whether the overseas players who have had such an impact lately will be available to play. And should they be available for the tour, which I would expect them to be, should Meyer select them at all?

The End of year tour is always touted as a tour to try things out, give the regular players a bit of a rest after a long year of Super Rugby and Internationals and give some in-form youngsters a go at the next level. This might sound like a bad idea in terms of selling out the coveted Springbok jersey, but who cares if we hand out a few caps in return for having our top players stick around injury free for a while longer.

For arguments sake, let’s say Meyer opts against selecting his overseas players, opting rather to reward the guys who actually play in South Africa. That would firstly, open up quite a few spaces in the current team, and secondly, we should have quite a bun fight to fill those spaces, based on the form of the year so far.

Starting amongst the forwards, we are then likely to be without Juandre Kruger and Francois Louw. Not such a big void to fill, it is only two players after all, but considering the form Louw is in currently, it would be near impossible to select a player close to his ability from the players left in South Africa. As for Kruger, I have never been a great fan and I think we have ample talent to cover for him, whether we go for the experienced Franco van der Merwe or opt to blood young Pieter-Steph du Toit, either candidate would be sufficient. As for a replacement for Louw, I would personally opt for either Siya Kolisi or Marcell van der Merwe to take his spot, while there might be merit in handing Deon Fourie a shot at it just to prove himself, but I have never been a fan of a dual player (read half hooker half flanker).

It is amongst the backs that we have a slightly bigger concern. At scrumhalf, we would be without the services of both scrumhalves used during the Rugby Championship, Ruan Pienaar and Fourie du Preez. While Piet van Zyl is still around, my mind tells me that not even being able to start for his home union says something about the player. While I like his style of play, for the Cheetahs, I am not as confident in handing him the starting spot for the Boks. Looking at who is left within South Africa, there could be arguments to allow Sarel Pretorius to run things for the tour, but his style clashes with the weather up North. Unfortunately, I do not have an answer for this position, and will leave that to you to debate in the comments below.

Moving onto flyhalf, another position I am sure will see a lot of debate. Morne Steyn will not be available, according to the rules set by myself above, and leaves us with quite a void to fill. Not only a void in the most pivotal position, but also a void in a reliable kicker. I hear you screaming for Pat Lambie to get the nod, but can we really entrust him with the kicking duties as well? Yes he plays a great attacking game and is proficient in the wet, but I am not sold on the idea of handing Lambie the reigns just like that, without having had a properly successful season. Again, I do not know the answer here, and will leave it to you to debate it. My personal choice for flyhalf would be to give Demetri Catrakilis a run, simply as he has had an immense season to date and is actually a 75% kicker, amongst other things. There will be calls for Johan Goosen to start again, since he is back from his injury, but I would wait until he has played more than 15 minutes of rugby before I make that call.

As far as the outside backs go, we would be without both Bryan Habana and Zane Kirchner. While Habana is quite a loss, Kirchner is not. Habana’s replacement would simply be Bjorn Basson, I mean come now, it is Heyneke Meyer after all. As for fullback, who knows? There might be a shift to the last line of defence for Willie le Roux, and I would not be too sad about that. If not though, there is a host of players that can step up, none with any significant amount of experience though. The elephant in the room might be Frans Steyn, having hardly played any rugby at all this year, it might be worth sending him to Europe to get some confidence back, but he might just enjoy the French cuisine a tad too much…

Jokes aside, I am excited about the next 12 months in Springbok rugby. This end of year tour should see the Springboks try again to start an unbeaten run, and while the results are important, I would love to see even the slightest change in plan from the coaching staff. Given how this team has grown in the last year, I am looking forward to see their growth into 2014, building towards what should be a very interesting 2015 World Cup.



24 Comments

  • Louis Schreuder will then probably get a run at scrumhalf (somewhere Rob Otto falls over and dies)

    He is the mould of scrummy that HM enjoys and is fairly consistent, also think he got called up to a training camp recently

  • Comment 1, posted at 15.10.13 11:03:17 by Clayton(PJLD) Reply
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  • @Clayton(PJLD) (Comment 1) :

    Fair comment!

    I do not think either of the Sharks scrummies are consistent enough. While I rate Reinach to become better, I think he still a season or so off from pushing into the Bok squad..

  • Comment 2, posted at 15.10.13 11:06:31 by Richard Ferguson Reply
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  • um has pat not kicked well enough in super rugby? What were his stats? He’s above average in his goal kicking and ball in hand is a centre, with good defence. To me that is a complete flyhalf. Remember the Crusaders game?

    Oh and i hope people like Siya and Jan get a go. They need gametime.

  • Comment 3, posted at 15.10.13 11:14:46 by Eli Reply

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  • Here is a question:

    If Goosen makes the team on a half a rugby match, should Schalk Burger be included?

  • Comment 4, posted at 15.10.13 11:22:59 by Richard Ferguson Reply
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  • @Eli (Comment 3) : Yes – I recall Lambie’s goal kicking being the only thing that kept the Sharks sort of competitive.

  • Comment 5, posted at 15.10.13 11:34:02 by Bokhoring Reply
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  • I would pick this team:

    1. Beast
    2. du Plessis
    3. Adriaanse
    4. Etzebeth
    5. van der Merwe (Flip)
    6. Coetzee
    7. Alberts
    8. Vermeulen
    9. van Zyl
    10. Lambie
    11. Kolbe/Mvovo
    12. Serfontein
    13. de Villiers
    14. Basson/Kolbe
    15. le Roux

    16. Strauss
    17. Oosthuizen
    18. du Plessis
    19. du Toit
    20. Kolisi
    21. Schreuder
    22. Goosen
    23. Engelbrecht

    Lambie’s kicking should be fine. His average is actually pretty high for the season. I think we should entrust van Zyl with the reigns for the future. Coetzee should be the option at 6. He is not really a fetcher but we have du Plessis and Vermeulen. I think J. du Plessis needs a rest, and it would be good to give Adriaanse a go. We may be a bit thin in the back 3. I really think Kolbe deserves a shot. le Roux can play fullback which leaves us with a wing spot which I reckon could be filled by either Mvovo or Basson (maybe Rhule). I reckon Serfontein could do with a start and otherwise I think that’s a solid team.

  • Comment 6, posted at 15.10.13 11:44:39 by David12246 Reply

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  • @Bokhoring (Comment 5) : But on the other hand he had some shockers kicking out of hand, often not finding touch with penalty kicks.

  • Comment 7, posted at 15.10.13 11:46:40 by Salmonoid the Subtle Reply
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  • @Richard Ferguson (Comment 4) : What about a mix of new local talent and some older heads? People have put forward the suggestion of Bakkies and Schalk still being good enough, so why not rest the settled overseas stars as you suggested, pick a few old heads in the overseas crowd, if that’s the way Heyneke is thinking, and then have them there to blood the youngsters.

  • Comment 8, posted at 15.10.13 11:47:43 by StevieS Reply
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  • On Lambie, before the last few games of Super Rugby (I think only the last 2 games) his kicking average was more than 80%. He Ended on 74%, which is 4th overall alongside Beauden Barrett.

    Rank Player Team Goals Kicked (%)
    1 Morne Steyn Bulls 83 (86%)
    2 Christian Lealiifano Brumbies 68 (76%)
    3 Joe Pietersen Stormers 63 (84%)
    4 Beauden Barrett Hurricanes 68 (74%)
    5 Patrick Lambie Sharks 60 (74%)

    And I know for a fact he’s last 2 games was less than 50% accuracy, so that effected his overall average.

  • Comment 9, posted at 15.10.13 11:51:29 by Letgo Reply
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  • Oh and his kicking average for 2012 was also in the high seventies, while Morne Steyn fell into the sixties.

  • Comment 10, posted at 15.10.13 11:53:29 by Letgo Reply
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  • I get that his two kicks on Saturday may have affected how people feel about his kicking, but I think he’s a pretty solid kicker, especially since the start of the 2012 season.

    But great article Rich! And I agree that Catrakilis must be very close to selection. He’s not everyone’s cup of tea (what flyhalf in SA are?), but I think he has a solid all-round game and based on his last two season’s and especially how well he has been doing with the Stormers, he should definitely be considered.

  • Comment 11, posted at 15.10.13 11:57:43 by Letgo Reply
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  • Jannie needs a rest so I’d take Pat Cilliers and Stephen Kithsoff. I’d also take Deon Fourie, he can cover hooker but I’d take him primarily as a flank, he’s played well and deserves a place. As far as scrumhalf is concerned McCleod has not failed to deliver for the Sharks when called upon and my two Flyhalves would be Lambie and Catrikilis. Basson offers nothing except for straight line speed and he’s competent until the high ball but Raymond Rhule is the future. Even before he joined the Sharks I was impressed with SP Marais so he’d be in the reckoning as well but he’d need to stop making silly mistakes like kicking out on the full and chip kicks that just hand over possession, the semi and if the Sharks make the final will give him the opportunity to clean up that part of his game, if he plays well he could be in with a shout.

  • Comment 12, posted at 15.10.13 12:00:41 by Jacques Venter Reply

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  • I highly doubt Meyer is going to make too many changes. As we’ve seen he will not make sudden changes and put players in that have not been integrated into the culture, game plan, etc. Likely we are going to see Lourens rotate with jannie, with pat, pstd, and marcel to get some starts. We may see one or two players join the squad who weren’t part of it but can’t see them playing unless injuries force HMs hand.

  • Comment 13, posted at 15.10.13 12:11:33 by gregkaos Reply
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  • Teh departure of his frontline Bok players overseas has kind of forced Meyer’s hand here. He wants to build a team and would prefer to play only SA based players. However, does he now throw away consistent selection for 3 matches only to return to his preferred players next year? Or does he now completely ignore these overseas based players and now start afresh. Scotland aside, Wales and France will be seriously tough games. Going into those games with a new side would give any Bok coaches nightmares as failure on this tour will result in newspapers and the man in the street calling for his head. In my view he has to bite the bullet and continue picking his overseas based players. In fact id go totally the overseas based route and give guys like Joe Van Niekerk, Bakkies Botha, BJ Botha, etc a go as a youngster’s career could end quickly after a bad test in Cardiff, Murrayfield or in France.

  • Comment 14, posted at 15.10.13 12:16:42 by SheldonK Reply

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  • I think the whole article is moot, as Meyer will with 99.999% probability select all his first choice players regardless of where they play. I am not sure if FdP will be available though – he seems to be tied down with his contract.

    Hopefully we will see some backup players getting a chance.

  • Comment 15, posted at 15.10.13 12:17:50 by Bokhoring Reply
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  • Deon Fourie is a really bad hooker, an exceptional flank but a poor hooker. He couldn’t hit Bekker during Super Rugby

  • Comment 16, posted at 15.10.13 13:10:55 by Clayton(PJLD) Reply
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  • @Clayton(PJLD) (Comment 16) : To be fair, Bekker is quite a small target :lol:

    As much as I’d like to play only locals, the way we’re playing at the moment with the overseas players should not be stifled.

    That being said this is a good opportunity to try a few new players to get them into the game plan, but not so many that the consistency is killed. For examples giving the likes of PSDT, a new scrumhalf, flyhalf, and maybe some new props a go (at least off the bench).

    Ultimately, I’d rather win with overseas players than lose with a locals only side. The locals need to be introduced slowly, a few at a time. I want our best side playing come the World Cup, regardless of where they play! Just my opinion.

  • Comment 17, posted at 15.10.13 13:45:12 by SeanyJMc Reply

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  • So Supersport has Frans Steyn playing for the Sharks this weekend – he can go on the EOYT then.

  • Comment 18, posted at 15.10.13 14:04:46 by Salmonoid the Subtle Reply
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  • I’d be chuffed if Scara Ntubeni got a chance to tour with the Boks, been outstanding in the Currie Cup.

  • Comment 19, posted at 15.10.13 21:54:42 by Ludz Reply

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  • @Ludz (Comment 19) : shoot-out between him and Cooper for the 3rd hooker spot, with Scarra shading it

  • Comment 20, posted at 15.10.13 22:31:10 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 20) : actually, no – let me take of my black-and-white specs. Scarra is ahead by quite some distance, isn’t he? Coops started like a house on fire but didn’t maintain that intensity.

  • Comment 21, posted at 15.10.13 23:17:34 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 21) : added to that Scara’s set piece work is superior. Cooper did drop in intensity

  • Comment 22, posted at 16.10.13 07:44:33 by Ludz Reply

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  • I think it is time to leave out ALL the overseas players. It’s their choice to be there.It becomes a bit boring – young players are exciting. Anyone who has played a fair bit of Super Rugby surely has enough background to make a step up to EOYT. The end of year tour is surely to blood new up and up coming players. I think Charl McLeod should be considered at 9. Reinach to play off the bench. Marcell Coetzee definitely and why not Deysel? I also truly rate WP’s Gio Aplon. He is such an exciting player and he can catch defence off-guard at times and score great tries. Just because he is small is not such a huge issue. The average size of NZ players is much smaller than SA players and look how well they do!

  • Comment 23, posted at 16.10.13 11:12:59 by [email protected] Reply

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  • @[email protected] (Comment 23) : It is not true that NZ players are much smaller at all. In fact, they are roughly the same and in many areas are bigger. On average we might edge it a little but not enough to make a point out of it. I think we ought to give guys like Piet van Zyl a go rather than both McLeod and Reinach, maybe one of the 2 (MAYBE). Also, Gio Aplon is a demon on attack but he is so often found to be out of his depth on defense at Bok level. He is tactically alright on defense but is easily out-muscled.

  • Comment 24, posted at 16.10.13 17:31:55 by David12246 Reply

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