KSA Shark ©

Habana dilemma for Div

Written by Andre Bosch (KSA Shark ©)

Posted in :In the news, Springboks on 17 Nov 2008 at 16:49
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The form of star wing Bryan Habana and the myriad problems caused by the injury question marks hanging over several key players should give Springbok coach Peter de Villiers plenty to think about as he prepares for Saturday’s final clash of this tour against England at Twickenham on Saturday.

Gavin Rich writes on SuperRugby that in being beaten 28-14 by Australia in their second Autumn international clash at the weekend, England showed that they are not the force they once were, and after beating England several times in the World Cup year and also with an under-strength team here in London two years ago, the Boks should expect to win.

But that is what we have said before both the tour matches so far, and against both Wales and Scotland the Boks only just scraped home.

The massive impact the loss of Bismarck du Plessis had on the scrumming against Scotland was clear for all to see, with Brian Mujati’s struggle at tighthead bringing into focus what a gamble it was for De Villiers not to have selected an experienced man to back up John Smit in the position.

If Bismarck is forced home, his brother Jannie is ready to fly out, with a final decision to be made by Monday lunch-time. Many critics argued at the time of the Bok squad announcement that Du Plessis should have been in the team in the first place, but because he has not been here the past two weeks, scrumming coach Gary Gold will have his time cut out absorbing him into the unit.

The question of whether Du Plessis goes straight into the starting line-up if he is called up is an interesting one. Mujati has struggled at international level so far, but he was selected ahead of Du Plessis initially, so a Du Plessis selection in the No 3 jersey would be a highly contentious call to make.

First prize of course for De Villiers would be to have Bismarck miraculously recover from his hamstring injury, but even then you would have to say the Boks have been set back ahead of the battle with the strong England scrumming pack by the fact that Smit did not get another 80 minutes of game-time on the right hand side of the scrum at Murrayfield.

The other big injury concern is that to Fourie du Preez, and given how Ruan Pienaar struggled in the absence of his calming, experienced mentorship in Edinburgh, the halfback situation could prove even more problematic than the front-row if the quad injury that kept Du Preez out last week was to rule him out of the Twickenham match.

Again, as with the front-row, such an eventuality will expose potential weaknesses that will bring the initial selection into question.

It was not ideal for the Boks to start, as they did in Edinburgh, with a flyhalf who was in effect also the reserve scrumhalf on the day, and if it goes pear-shaped at Twickenham the Bok management will rue the absence, even if only as cover, of the experienced Butch James.

Then there is Habana. The 2007 IRB World Player of the Year is enduring a nightmare patch at present, and the number of balls he dropped at Murrayfield before being replaced mirrored a loss of confidence.

The Bok coach said afterwards that Habana was replaced because he had received a knock, but even if Habana is not injured, the Boks are going to have to make a big selection call.

De Villiers trotted out that old line about class being permanent and form temporary when asked to comment on Habana after Murrayfield, and said that it was part of his job to work Habana through his confidence problem.

It would though be a risk to play him at Twickenham, and this is where the ultra-conservative selection for the matches so far may come back to bite the Boks.

Murrayfield should have been an opportunity to give Jonghi Nokwe, the man who scored four tries against Australia just two matches ago, a run. There are some who say you don’t play Nokwe against England, but then why bring him on tour in the first place as the second left wing if you don’t have confidence in him?

Jaque Fourie showed as a replacement in Edinburgh that he has to be a member of the starting lineup, but to ignore Nokwe would introduce the same questions that a Du Plessis selection ahead of Mujati would.

Adrian Jacobs has enjoyed a fine return to international rugby this season, but Fourie brings strengths he lacks, and as the man who was the incumbent at the World Cup, now is the time for the Lions player to be reunited with his old No 13 jersey and erstwhile midfield partner Jean de Villiers.

Another possible option at left wing is Frans Steyn, who showed when he came on in Edinburgh that he is also too good a player to leave out and whose lengthy field kicking could come in handy if Du Preez is not in the team for the London match.


  • If these guys honestly think de Villiers is going to drop Jacobs, they’re smoking the same stuff as Fudge Mabetha 🙂

  • Comment 1, posted at 17.11.08 17:04:10 by robdylan Reply
  • Is this guy on drugs? Lets drop our most consistent backline player. Doesnt it make sense to keep the centre combination in tact + maybe move fourie to the left wing? We clearly need to replace habana cos he has been playing on rep the whole season.

  • Comment 2, posted at 17.11.08 20:19:38 by wpw Reply
  • @wpw (Comment 2) : I’ve come to the conclusion that it doesn’t actually matter how well jacobs actually plays. These guys have it in their minds that he’s just standing in for Mossie and nothing will change that opinion

  • Comment 3, posted at 17.11.08 20:48:28 by robdylan Reply
  • Has everyone forgotten that JP actually plays left wing for the Sharks. He has many more games on the left side than on the right side. Why not move JP to left wing and give Odwa a run?

  • Comment 4, posted at 18.11.08 00:45:21 by Dancing Bear Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Dancing Bear
  • Adi should remain in his position..he has been class..but I will say that soace has to be made for Mossie..his experience and form should not be keeping him on the bench.Id move JPP to left wing and bring Mossie in place of Habana.

  • Comment 5, posted at 18.11.08 05:17:00 by CoffeeShopBok;-) Reply
  • @CoffeeShopBok;-) (Comment 5) :

    I tend to agree with that.

    An in form but out of position is currently better than the out of form in position Habana. He did more work in the 20minutes he was on the field than Habana did in the two matches thusfar.

  • Comment 6, posted at 18.11.08 06:38:47 by KSA Shark © Reply
    KSA Shark ©
  • @robdylan (Comment 1) : Nee Rob, ek glo stellig dat hulle “Tik” 👿

  • Comment 7, posted at 18.11.08 07:29:25 by Charlie Reply
  • @robdylan (Comment 3) : My point exactly 🙄

  • Comment 8, posted at 18.11.08 07:30:04 by Charlie Reply
  • Please people help me out here.
    We have two other wings on tour – whats wrong with them? Whats with the obsession with getting Mossie a starting spot. Surely if he starts then it must be in his normal position, an if Adi is doing the job there then he must wait his chance off the bench. Yesterday a hooker was replaced with a prop, so that the prop chosen for the tour can go and play hooker because they dont have confidence in the replacement hooker. It also seems as if everyone is fine with selecting players out of position – why?

  • Comment 9, posted at 18.11.08 09:13:39 by Salmonoid Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Salmonoid the Subtle
  • @Salmonoid (Comment 9) : I’m with you. If there’s a wing spot up for grabs, it must to to Odwa, the form Currie Cup winger

  • Comment 10, posted at 18.11.08 09:47:20 by robdylan Reply
  • @robdylan (Comment 10) :

    I think Odwa is a great rugby player but he lacks pace and this particularly exposed at international level….which is why I believe he should focus on fullback.

  • Comment 11, posted at 18.11.08 10:22:43 by Dive Pass Reply
    Dive Pass
  • @Dive Pass (Comment 11) : Yeah look – it’s not like I’m saying he would be first choice if both Habana and JPP are fit and on form. The former is clearly out of sorts, though and of the options we have available to us on tour, Odwa is clearly the best one. He offers the right blend of attack, defence and work-rate. Nokwe might be more dangerous on attack but he is still a little green defensively. I’m pretty sure Odwa is faster than Jacque Fourie, at any rate.

  • Comment 12, posted at 18.11.08 10:36:57 by robdylan Reply
  • I’d probably go for Nokwe on the wing in place of Habs. 🙄

  • Comment 13, posted at 18.11.08 11:19:28 by wpw Reply
  • @wpw (Comment 13) : yeah, but you just like being difficult 🙂

    It’s just so bloody pointless having both Odwa and Jongi there to carry tackle bags when we don’t have enough props

  • Comment 14, posted at 18.11.08 11:37:58 by robdylan Reply
  • I’m so tired of Ruan Pienaar being made to do 4 players’ jobs!! Against Scotland he had to keep looking after Calender, and both Jantjes and Habana. This is completely unreasonable and not something many flyhalves in the world could cope with. Pienaar does it without complaining and still manages to control everything from pivot. Habana needs to go and Odwa surely has to start, even just for his magnificent positional play and quality decision making, coupled with his dependance under the high ball.

    Jantjes and Calender need to be sorted out. The panic and rash decision making by Calender is the biggest unsettling force in this team at the moment. And boy does he just love the blindside – I’m beginning to think he’s scared of the long pass. Jantjes is battling at fullback. He is constantly making mistakes and is far short of the quality of an international fullback. Stefan should have been on this tour…

    All England have to do is put Jantjes under pressure, get in Calander’s face, and they’ll overstretch Pienaar and have an easy game. I have always thought Calender wasn’t international quality, and he’s doing a wonderful job proving it for me.

  • Comment 15, posted at 18.11.08 12:21:57 by Frisbee Reply

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