KSA Shark ©

It’s going get physical

Written by Andre Bosch (KSA Shark ©)

Posted in :2009 Lions Tour, In the news, Springboks on 22 Apr 2009 at 06:39
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Rugby experts feel a physical onslaught is coming South Africa’s way when the British and Irish Lions take on the Springboks.

Stephen Nell writes for Die Burger that the British and Irish Lions are planning to take on the Springboks at their own traditional strengths in the series of three Tests in June and July.

That was the reaction on Tuesday from a panel of experts approached by Sport24 following the announcement of the squad for the tour of 10 games in South Africa.

Alan Solomons, Eddie Jones, Jake White and Cobus Visagie all agreed that Ian McGeechan (head coach) made a good selection and believe the Lions will take South Africa on physically.

“The Lions are not going to be out to entertain. They have picked a very physical squad,” said Solomons, who is a former Bok assistant coach and has also been at the helm of Irish side Ulster.

He believes the choice of Paul O’Connell as captain, as well as three physical scrumhalves – Mike Phillips, Harry Ellis and Tomas O’Leary – underline that point.

“O’Connell was a very good choice as captain. He has done an excellent job at Munster and has a hard edge,” said Solomons.

“Mike Phillips reminds me of Robert du Preez (a former Blue Bulls and Springbok scrumhalf). All the scrumhalves are big and physical.

“Mike Blair and Dwayne Peel (who were omitted) are more classic scrumhalves that are perhaps better passers of the ball. This sends a clear signal on how the Lions intend playing.

“The two flyhalves (Stephen Jones and Ronan O’Gara) are good at game management. They kick well at goal and their tactical kicking is also good.”

Jones, a former Wallaby boss who coached Saracens until recently, also believes the Lions have picked a squad that can stand their ground physically.

“They have picked big and aggressive forwards. They will definitely be out to take South Africa on physically,” he said.

“There are not many surprises among the backs. I don’t think they’ll be out to beat South Africa with flair. I doubt we’ll see high scores in the games. It’s going to be hard and uncompromising. The Lions will have a very recognisable style of play.

“The big question is whether they have enough talent. If you weigh the sides against one another, South Africa will have more talent at their disposal.”

McGeechan surprised by not picking the captains of Scotland (Blair), Wales (Ryan Jones) and England (Steve Borthwick). Ireland captain Brian O’Driscoll will play a supporting role under O’Connell.

White, who coached South Africa in their triumphant World Cup campaign, was impressed by the manner in which McGeechan approached the issue of leadership.

“It shows he has his own vision and that sends a very good signal to the players. I have to compliment him on that,” said White.

“He did not fall into the trap of sentimental choices. Some people would have wanted Borthwick there because he is England’s captain and Ryan Jones would have had a lot of support in Wales.

“O’Driscoll is also not the skipper, irrespective of the reverence in which he is held in Ireland. With the squad he picked, McGeechan is also keeping his cards close to his chest with regards the first 15 for the tests.”

Visagie, a former Bok tighthead prop who now plays for Saracens, also sees a physical onslaught coming South Africa’s way.

“The choice of O’Connell ahead of O’Driscoll tells you what the philosophy will be. They wanted a skipper that can impose himself physically,” said Visagie.

“Simon Shaw over Borthwick is a further indication. Shaw is a bruiser and Borthwick a lineout specialist. However, I think South Africa have the ability to dominate the Lions physically.”


  • This should be interesting.

    PDV keen on expansive rugby and Ian McGeechan keen on a grinding game.

    How long before we RUN them ragged?
    How long before they grind our forwards down?

  • Comment 1, posted at 22.04.09 07:09:59 by KSA Shark © Reply
    KSA Shark ©
  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 1) : They have done this before(1974 and 1980) and McGeechan has been here before and I recknon he knows that he cannot take us on with an expansive game, so he will do it upfront. I worry that the Boks do not hae the front row to front up to these guys esp if they want to stick with Smit at Loosehead. The tests are going to be ugly hard faught affairs, lots of penalty results maybe not so many tries. I hope PDV IS NOT PIGHEADED, and listens to the advice he is offered. The Lions are coming to win, not entertain and in McGeechan, they have a top tactician. We must be aware, because talent wise we should drill them and I think McGeechan knows that. What a prospect!!

  • Comment 2, posted at 22.04.09 07:24:41 by Whindy Reply
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  • The tests are going to be ugly hard faught affairs

    And in some cases those are the best games to watch.

    I am so looking forward to this.

    Are you going home over that period or are you going to be this side?

  • Comment 3, posted at 22.04.09 07:27:04 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 3) : I agree this will be proper rugby and what the purist looks for much like test Cricket against ODI. Not a 40 point run away.

    I am hoping to be there for one of the tests, as you say going to be an exciting prospect. Still remember Derrick Quinell throwing that punch which floored Morne, tell me that was not planned, I am prepared to bet John Smit, will get a bit of attention from them as well they always target a person like that to try and upset the apple cart.

  • Comment 4, posted at 22.04.09 07:43:19 by Whindy Reply
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  • @Whindy (Comment 4) :

    And then they’ll whinge if we drop O’Driscoll on his head. 😛

    I may have said this once or twice but this is going to an exciting war.

    You must let me know via email what dates you will be in SA so that I can DHL your Varsity cup Superbru pool prize to you.

  • Comment 5, posted at 22.04.09 07:49:31 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 5) : Thanks Andre , send it anytime my wife is still down there till next year, when the Kids finish school. did I send you my address

  • Comment 6, posted at 22.04.09 08:40:37 by Whindy Reply
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  • @Whindy (Comment 6) :

    Yip, you did.

    I arrive in SA on 8 June. I will send it within a day or so of that.

  • Comment 7, posted at 22.04.09 08:43:43 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • Sadly, the right choice for 8th man will be Daniesaurus to deal with this lot.

    Maybe Kanko and Spies will fight for the bench spot.

  • Comment 8, posted at 22.04.09 10:51:05 by Big Fish Reply
    Big Fish
  • @Big Fish (Comment 8) :Big Fish are you then putting Schalk and Jean on the flanks. The way Schalk is playing I would bench him. Leaves us vulnerable, against the speed of Martin Williams. he showed us up in the Welsh game already, so not sure we can go in without a fetcher.(But Who?) I would be inclined to go with Spies at 8 and Kanko off the bench, we need Spies’ speed and bulk and Kanko is such a nice option to bring on if we start dominating in the tight, note I did say “if”

  • Comment 9, posted at 22.04.09 11:02:27 by Whindy Reply
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  • @Whindy (Comment 9) :
    I think PDV will pick Schalk and Juan, come what may.

    If not, Look’s present form and PDV’s esteem of him will get him the openside spot.

    Cant disagree too much – I don’t think a Lions tour is the time to blood new guys, although I do think Deysel could be some great granite to front the cause.

    I do think we should remember that for many Boks this Lions tour is the last dragon to slay after all the other successes.

    This will be a tour they will play their socks off on – so probably guys like Ricky and Schalk will lift their games 40%.

  • Comment 10, posted at 22.04.09 11:22:17 by Big Fish Reply
    Big Fish
  • @Big Fish (Comment 10) : True, it will be interesting to see what happens at the end of this tour. It could be a load shed of note, although I am not sure how many guys actually want to go overseas, MONEY IS IS OBVIOUSLY A HUGE FACTOR!! Schalk could be one, as he will have one it all after the Lions, so the only other challenge would be overseas. But will he leave the comfort of SA for the wet of the UK or France??

  • Comment 11, posted at 22.04.09 11:39:09 by Whindy Reply
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  • Don’t under-rate the Boks either… Burger, Smith, Bakkies, Smit, CJ, Danie, Bismarck are hard cants too and Matfield (a-la-World Cup saving tackle and many a big hit in the final), Beast, Spies, Kanko, JDP can step up to the plate…

    Jacque Fourie’s ‘turnover/fetching’ skills a must start in the midfield too… my only real worry is 15… we all know Snor will persist with the most over-rated back since Jorrie Muller…

  • Comment 12, posted at 22.04.09 11:43:57 by bryce_in_oz Reply

  • @bryce_in_oz (Comment 12) :Hi Bryce, to my mind Stefan is the only choice but I agree PDV will go with Jantjes, I don’t believe we will see any major changes to the Boks why would he change he has a settled side does not make any sense. It will be interesting to see how many guys do call it quits I am not so sure it will be that many.

  • Comment 13, posted at 22.04.09 12:01:39 by Whindy Reply
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  • @Whindy (Comment 13) :

    I’d say at least 10…

  • Comment 14, posted at 22.04.09 12:29:38 by bryce_in_oz Reply

  • @Whindy (Comment 11) :
    I think guys going abroad is a financial reality, and all the best to them – their careers are short.

    I am one of those who struggles to see myself leaving the beloved country (though my family are all abroad), but I can understand the temptation.

    That said, it appears that many of them still want to return home when they have a last few seasons left, and I believe that mitigates a lot of the loss that we suffer when they leave; they come back to mentor young SA players after they have gained seasons of experience in very different rugby conditions.

    I cant imagine how much JPP, for example, has benefitted from playing alongside wily old codgers like Percy and Stefan.

    In my opinion, Rassie made a massive mistake not starting with Percy to begin with, knowing that all he has are a group of rather tactically naive and inconsistent wings – dont underestimate the effect of the old professional!

  • Comment 15, posted at 22.04.09 12:41:27 by Big Fish Reply
    Big Fish
  • Who?? I see these guys going Habana,Jacobs, Div, bakies botha, Schalk Maybe.

  • Comment 16, posted at 22.04.09 12:44:16 by Whindy Reply
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  • @Big Fish (Comment 15) : “I think guys going abroad is a financial reality, and all the best to them – their careers are short.” I agree and there is also the challenge these guys have basically done it all, but as John and Big Vic found out they(clubs) want their pound of flesh and its a foreign land not always so good. As I have found out!!

  • Comment 17, posted at 22.04.09 12:48:27 by Whindy Reply
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  • @Whindy (Comment 17) :
    Oh yeah – agree with you; Canaan is always just over the next hill, isn’t it? 🙂

    I ‘t fret too much about players leaving – SA has no talent production problem – ours is a coaching and player refinement problem.

    Ironic really – just like our commodity-based economy readily produces raw materials, but we aren’t very good at producing finished goods from them.

  • Comment 18, posted at 22.04.09 13:01:28 by Big Fish Reply
    Big Fish
  • @Big Fish (Comment 18) :

    JW’s and his team of merry men are rectifying the coaching problem… from grass-roots level and up… thank fark…

  • Comment 19, posted at 22.04.09 13:56:53 by bryce_in_oz Reply


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