KSA Shark ©

Boks still bypass fetchers

Written by Andre Bosch (KSA Shark ©)

Posted in :2009 Lions Tour, In the news, Springboks on 2 Jun 2009 at 07:55
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Jake White believes fetchers are good for pulling beers out of the fridge… his successor Peter de Villiers’ choice of beverage is unclear but it seems they clink glasses in agreement philosophically.

Rob Houwing writes for Sport 24 that the whippet-like, low-flying, burrowing, stealing and spoiling No 6 is a beast that remains pretty blatantly surplus to modern Springbok requirement.

That was one of the most salient observations you could make after the announcement on Monday evening of the 28-strong national squad for the three-Test series against the British and Irish Lions.

Yes, Schalk Burger is predictably in the mix, very clearly earmarked to wear that number out of the tunnel, and a big school of thought will cry “why not?” considering his legacy of luminary achievement for his country.

But Burger, as we also know, is no fetcher in the truest sense – he’s a broad and tallish unit – and this has not been the Incredible Schalk’s most epic year thus far individually, in a misfiring Stormers side.

Indeed, nobody should be instantly branded anti-Burger for just beginning to contemplate in 2009 whether his finest years lie behind rather than ahead of him: rugby’s unprecedented collision aspect these days tends to translate into shorter “peaks” for players in certain positions, and the great blond combatant has had more than his fair share of extreme physical battery because of the no-prisoners game he plays.

Of course there’s every chance he will explode from the stalls against the Lions as bellicose and uncompromising as ever.

He may need to: he has been the beneficiary of a strong gesture of Bok faith after a Super 14 characterised by impressively destructive performances from a battery of fellow South Africans who can more comfortably be classified as genuine open-siders.

Their ranks include Heinrich Brussow, who misses out after sampling international rugby on the end-of-year tour and then moving his game up an eye-catching notch or two for the otherwise inferior Cheetahs.

Also, Luke Watson, who “fetched” from No 8 arguably more impressively than Burger did for the Stormers in the more customary shirt, the young Bulls tearaway Deon Stegmann and the two Sharks pocket battleships, Messrs Botes and Daniel.

There is even a solid core of approval in the Big Smoke and beyond for the qualities of big-hearted Lions captain Cobus Grobbelaar.

All of these men are probably instinctively quicker to the breakdown than the incumbent Springbok No 6 although, of course, Burger brings several other attributes to the party and, at the very least, he deserves a start in the first Test in Durban to remind of his overall value.

But it still seems strange than in a 14-man forward cupboard, there is no place on the shelf – even if just to keep Schalk on his toes – for any of them.

The other area of some eccentricity is fullback: the ultra-cynical might peruse the squad and inquire “fullback? Er, what fullback?”

Remarkably, you see, there is no room for any South African who stood routinely in the last line of defence for his franchise in the Super 14, even granted that Conrad Jantjes was the victim of a horrible late-campaign leg-break.

Zane Kirchner and Stefan Terblanche have cause to feel peeved and we are left to guess now which of Jaque Fourie, JP Pietersen, Frans Steyn or Earl Rose will occupy this rather important post – without the benefit of any prolific recent exposure there – against the Lions.

Or has coach De Villiers got any other surprises up his sleeve? Bryan Habana at No 15, maybe, with Jongi Nokwe at No 11 in what would be a marvellously fleet-footed but intriguingly risky back three?

Or what about the theory that either of the industrious Ndunganes (the Sharks’ Odwa has cracked the nod) could grace fullback comfortably?

Scrumming aficionados will not be universally happy about the tighthead prop arsenal, which is limited to the already much-discussed captain John Smit, joined now by that seasoned utility man Deon Carstens.

There is no room at the right-shoulder inn for the specialist Jannie du Plessis or CJ van der Linde, although in the latter’s case his niggling injuries would have swayed the selectors’ thinking.

So those are some areas that could be open to very fierce scrutiny.

But my tempering advice to any critics planning to pour vitriol on the brains trust’s choices is this: first pause to consider the array of positions that are so sublimely and sensibly staffed as to potentially quash most fears about the others.
Lock and centre are certainly two of them, don’t you think?

This squad is a bit of a minestrone soup, and when you get it out of the microwave and slurp it you experience some cold patches in it. Yet also within the broth, thank goodness, do lie some chunky pieces of agreeably prime beef…


  • I have to question this latest bit of wisdom, as it definitely allows the Lions an in, in two crucial areas the tight loose and most importantly the last line of defense. Firstly the tight loose, here I am not to worried as young Schalk will definitely raise his game however the lions could still expose us here, Martin Williams has showed us up before, once for the World 15 at Ellis Park and last year for the Welsh test, he is a tigerish forager of the ball and we have nobody to oppose him. Then the one that worries me more than anything else is who will Div put at the back, I will be happy with only Fran Steyn, for the rest and I include Jaque Fourie I would see this as a huge weak point, which any coach worth his salt could expose!!

  • Comment 1, posted at 02.06.09 08:30:46 by Whindy Reply
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  • is Odwa in?

  • Comment 2, posted at 02.06.09 08:40:38 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 2) : he is too. Must have missed his name the first time round. I’d play him at 15

  • Comment 3, posted at 02.06.09 08:45:20 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 2) : for now 🙂

  • Comment 4, posted at 02.06.09 08:47:37 by JarsonX Reply
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  • i feel sorry for brussow, it sucks that once you have a Bok cap that you cant play for the emerging Boks 😈

  • Comment 5, posted at 02.06.09 08:50:30 by JarsonX Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 3) : He cant kick all that well and he is left or right footed, not both unfortunately??

  • Comment 6, posted at 02.06.09 08:50:48 by Whindy Reply
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  • when does the CC start? I keep forgetting 😳

  • Comment 7, posted at 02.06.09 08:51:54 by JarsonX Reply
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  • @Whindy (Comment 6) : lol morne a certain lad will try anyone else instead of the one he blames for his love child not being at the sharks no more :mrgreen: 😆

    F steyn is the obvious choice at full back , JW been saying it for some time now , then again what does a world cup winning coach know 🙄

  • Comment 8, posted at 02.06.09 08:58:09 by sharks_lover Reply
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  • oh now i see the article that asks the same question i did. where is brussouw?

  • Comment 9, posted at 02.06.09 09:01:44 by try time (superrugby's kryptonite is SANZAR) Reply

  • @try time (superrugby’s kryptonite is SANZAR) (Comment 9) : he defininatly out played botes this year and was one of the few good things in the cheetahs squad.

  • Comment 10, posted at 02.06.09 09:02:50 by try time (superrugby's kryptonite is SANZAR) Reply

  • @try time (superrugby’s kryptonite is SANZAR) (Comment 10) : see comment 5 😀

  • Comment 11, posted at 02.06.09 09:05:25 by JarsonX Reply
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  • @JarsonX (Comment 11) : aaah. that explains it. but it doesn’t seem fair.

  • Comment 12, posted at 02.06.09 09:07:51 by try time (superrugby's kryptonite is SANZAR) Reply

  • The fetcher debate.

    Overplayed, overhyped and utterly useless.

  • Comment 13, posted at 02.06.09 09:11:39 by Morné Reply
  • @Morné (Comment 13) : not sure about that, stegmann was critical to the bulls success. compared to keegan and botes that never really fired for the sharks.

  • Comment 14, posted at 02.06.09 09:14:31 by try time (superrugby's kryptonite is SANZAR) Reply

  • @Morné (Comment 13) : I can’t agree…fetcher have a huge role to play in the fast running game that we want to play…I would have had Brussow or stegman in the team for sure and let Juan and Schalk fight it out for no 7

  • Comment 15, posted at 02.06.09 09:18:25 by Pokkel Reply
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  • @try time (superrugby’s kryptonite is SANZAR) (Comment 14) :

    But Brussow and Watson scored more turn-overs than he did?

    Yet the Stormers and Cheetahs were nowhere.

  • Comment 16, posted at 02.06.09 09:21:18 by Morné Reply
  • @Morné (Comment 16) : Stegman at least had something resembeling a team around him 👿

  • Comment 17, posted at 02.06.09 09:23:55 by Pokkel Reply
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  • @Pokkel (Comment 15) :


    Only in South Africa are we fascinated by this fetcher theory…

    The two teams that played tear-away flanks through most of their campaigns are incidently also the two teams that conceded the most tries in the competition… for SA teams.


    Brussow, the man everyone wants in the team, managed an average of less than 2 turn-overs per game, yet he conceded well over 25 free kicks and penalties, almost 3 a game – most of any loosie.

    What exactly is the value in that?

    To me it looks more than a liability.

  • Comment 18, posted at 02.06.09 09:25:15 by Morné Reply
  • @Pokkel (Comment 17) :

    99% of that Stormers team just missed the play-offs last year.

  • Comment 19, posted at 02.06.09 09:26:04 by Morné Reply
  • @Pokkel (Comment 15) : i wouldn’t even have given schalk a chance.

  • Comment 20, posted at 02.06.09 09:31:03 by try time (superrugby's kryptonite is SANZAR) Reply

  • @Morné (Comment 16) : thats because they actually had ball. you can only knock on if you a the ball.

  • Comment 21, posted at 02.06.09 09:33:04 by try time (superrugby's kryptonite is SANZAR) Reply

  • @Morné (Comment 18) : what are schalks stats? from what i remember of his season he was the worst player to turnover his own ball.

  • Comment 22, posted at 02.06.09 09:34:23 by try time (superrugby's kryptonite is SANZAR) Reply

  • @Morné (Comment 18) : where you get these stats?

  • Comment 23, posted at 02.06.09 09:34:59 by try time (superrugby's kryptonite is SANZAR) Reply

  • @try time (superrugby’s kryptonite is SANZAR) (Comment 22) :

    Who cares????

    Centers score as many turn-overs as loosies!!!

    Why would you ever want to pick a player, and base it on the fact that he scores 2 turn-overs in a game???

    That is 2 things he did, in 80 minutes which you want to base a selection on???

  • Comment 24, posted at 02.06.09 09:37:03 by Morné Reply
  • @try time (superrugby’s kryptonite is SANZAR) (Comment 23) :

    The Voksblad’s Hendrik Cronje (Free State newspaper) did a stats comparison on all our loosies about 3 weeks or so ago.

  • Comment 25, posted at 02.06.09 09:37:58 by Morné Reply
  • @Morné (Comment 24) : if you are a player like schalk that has the simple job of carrying a ball into contact situation to set up phases, and he cocks that up by getting caught behind the advantage line and losing it in the tackle, then should he be in the boks ahead of brussouw that at least has pace on his side and offers more. centres don’t get the same clean ball a player like schalk does so compare like with like.

  • Comment 26, posted at 02.06.09 09:45:17 by try time (superrugby's kryptonite is SANZAR) Reply

  • @Morné (Comment 18) : Only is SA…??? What is Richie McCaw to the AB’s then?

  • Comment 27, posted at 02.06.09 09:51:20 by Pokkel Reply
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  • @try time (superrugby’s kryptonite is SANZAR) (Comment 26) :

    Why compare like with like when the comparison is two things they do in 80 minutes.

    It is not even worth a comparison.

    Now if you look at total contribution and award points to the like then compare things like effective ball carries, off-loads, effective tackles (behind adv. line), line-outs won, rucks entered, balls effectively slowed and 20 other things.

    Add negative points to things like penalties and free kicks conceded, ineffective tackles, balls lost in contact and also, 20 other things…

    You end up with a final contribution figure for each player specific to his role or position.

    With White’s analysis system (Prozone) Schalk outscored every single Bok player over 70% of the time for almost the entire period White was in charge!!!

    We simply do not play the type of game to compliment the Brussow’s, Baywatch, Watsons and players of similar ilk in SA.

    They would be superstars in Aus though where they base their game on building phases and structure attacks around multiple phased play.

  • Comment 28, posted at 02.06.09 09:53:51 by Morné Reply
  • @Pokkel (Comment 27) :

    Their captain and an exceptional loose-forward not limited to only turn over balls…

  • Comment 29, posted at 02.06.09 09:54:48 by Morné Reply
  • Schalk deserves his place for a couple of reasons:

    1. He is the incumbent, always plays well for the Boks and will lift his game 150%. I have no doubt that come the first test in the Durban, the real Schalk will stand up and give us his usual all action game.

    2. The Lions are shit scared of him.

    They are actually very much in awe of our pack as a unit. Consistency in selection is probably the most important trait of an international coach. You cannot buy experience and that is what won us the WC under Jake White, it was his selection policy during the whole of his reign.

    I am very surprised that Brussow is not in the squad, but the starting loosies of Schalk, Juan and Spies selects itself

  • Comment 30, posted at 02.06.09 09:56:16 by Villie Reply
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  • @Morné (Comment 28) :

    The Stormers sucked with Watson at 6, the Lions suck and the Cheetahs suck.

    Their role is overhyped and overplayed.

  • Comment 31, posted at 02.06.09 09:56:23 by Morné Reply
  • @Morné (Comment 28) : i am not looking at the schalk of 2007 i am looking at the schalk of 2009. he is a shadow of the man.

  • Comment 32, posted at 02.06.09 10:00:31 by try time (superrugby's kryptonite is SANZAR) Reply

  • @sharks_lover (Comment 8) : dude – do you have some sort of weird crush on Frans Steyn? Did you actually WATCH the shit that he dished up in every outing this year?

  • Comment 33, posted at 02.06.09 10:01:47 by robdylan Reply
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  • @try time (superrugby’s kryptonite is SANZAR) (Comment 32) :

    Dude, since 2005 stats and opinions have been abound on players better than Schalk, Watson, Baywatch and many more were all supposedly better than Schalk but time and time again he proves his worth, more so when he was out injured for the majority of the nightmare 2006 season…

    Schalk was by no means spectacular in 2009, but was also by no means shockingly shit.

    I remember a very rampant Schalk at Newlands when the Stormers destroyed the Lions as an example.

    For almost 5 years I have seen so-called fetchers lay claim to the thrown, and for 5 years I have seen them fall short.

  • Comment 34, posted at 02.06.09 10:06:40 by Morné Reply
  • Hell one guy, Luke Watson, detroyed the myth surrounding the Cheetahs loosies who on the day, played two fetchers when the Stormers met the Cheetahs in the Super 14 this year…

  • Comment 35, posted at 02.06.09 10:08:45 by Morné Reply
  • @robdylan (Comment 33) : Earls a shoe in though. God help us.

  • Comment 36, posted at 02.06.09 10:09:48 by billy Reply

  • @billy (Comment 36) : hey – it’s the coach (and selectors) who must take the ultimate responsibility for who they pick. They clearly rate Earl Rose and as such he deserves his spot. I happen to think he’s one of the most exciting attacking players we have – far better than Brent Russell, who, incidentally, was about the same size and also had major defensive frailties…

  • Comment 37, posted at 02.06.09 10:15:39 by robdylan Reply
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  • @Morné (Comment 34) : not according to sarugby stats, his playing time is not that much worse than brussouw, and heinrich outplayed him in almost every department. he made twice the tackles schalk did. turned over less. sorry schalk is not worthy of a bok jersey at the moment.

  • Comment 38, posted at 02.06.09 10:19:52 by try time (superrugby's kryptonite is SANZAR) Reply

  • @robdylan (Comment 37) : You joking….Rugby is not only about attack…every player on the field must be able to tackle, catch a high ball , clean out a ruck etc….Earl Rose doesn’t fulfill nearly enough of those criteria

  • Comment 39, posted at 02.06.09 10:21:09 by Pokkel Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 37) :

    Very good point…

  • Comment 40, posted at 02.06.09 10:21:10 by Morné Reply
  • @robdylan (Comment 37) : ok earl deserves a bok jersey less than schalk. at least schalk can play a little rugby under pressure. earl is piss poor under pressure. the guy has squatto bmt.

  • Comment 41, posted at 02.06.09 10:22:31 by try time (superrugby's kryptonite is SANZAR) Reply

  • @robdylan (Comment 37) : earl played worse than frans this season.

  • Comment 42, posted at 02.06.09 10:23:34 by try time (superrugby's kryptonite is SANZAR) Reply

  • @try time (superrugby’s kryptonite is SANZAR) (Comment 38) : I agree, but I also agree with Morne that Schalk is a different player in Green & Gold than in Blue. He’s probably gonna come out firing. I would prefer him at 7 and not at 6 though. His work rate remains huge.

  • Comment 43, posted at 02.06.09 10:24:08 by Pokkel Reply
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  • @Pokkel (Comment 39) : agree.

  • Comment 44, posted at 02.06.09 10:24:38 by try time (superrugby's kryptonite is SANZAR) Reply

  • @robdylan (Comment 37) : Agreed about the coaches decision, he never picked himself but it cant be good for the guys career or team moral to have him there when everyone thinks he got in by fluke. Thant said the squad on the wholes hugely positive and i will start concentrating on that and try leave Mnr Rose alone.

  • Comment 45, posted at 02.06.09 10:25:19 by billy Reply

  • @Pokkel (Comment 43) : yes but then why must we go on faith that maybe he will do it again for us, when we know brussouw can. rugby is a religion but that is taking it to the extreme. i don’t like blind faith.

  • Comment 46, posted at 02.06.09 10:26:28 by try time (superrugby's kryptonite is SANZAR) Reply

  • Where is Luke?!?

  • Comment 47, posted at 02.06.09 10:31:05 by Rahul Reply

  • @try time (superrugby’s kryptonite is SANZAR) (Comment 38) :

    SA RUgby?

    The guys that get the weight and height of players wrong???

  • Comment 48, posted at 02.06.09 10:32:08 by Morné Reply
  • @try time (superrugby’s kryptonite is SANZAR) (Comment 42) : I disagree

  • Comment 49, posted at 02.06.09 10:35:13 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 49) : It will be interesting to see the back 3 shaping up. We could be caught horrible short or prove PdV to be a genius!

  • Comment 50, posted at 02.06.09 10:38:11 by Rahul Reply

  • @Rahul (Comment 50) : well – you guys know that when it comes to PdV and teh Boks, I prefer to see the glass as half-full. Jake White’s squads regularly contained 5 or more players that you could only scratch your head about. PdV has at most one!

  • Comment 51, posted at 02.06.09 10:41:13 by robdylan Reply
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  • Look we can argue stats all day, I have pages and pages of stuff I can quote you.

    Loose trio’s like most things in rugby relies heavily on the balance and the combination. Get that wrong and you are screwed.

    Whenever we select a so-called ‘classical fetcher’ our teams fail dismally 90% of the time as I mentioned in one of the posts above. Simply, because our rugby we play does not compliment their type or style of play.

    Dummykick visits this site right?

    Ask him to share his views on the axis’ of loosies and how effective or ineffective they are – fascinating reading.

    OUr rugby is not based on building phases, where quick, fetching loosies play a key role – our rugby is strike play.

    You simply select the players that compliments that and brings that game to the party.

    If we start playing like the Aussies, select Luke, Brussow and Baywatch as your loosies any day.

  • Comment 52, posted at 02.06.09 10:41:38 by Morné Reply
  • @Rahul (Comment 50) : habana is never really part of the back three, he is too busy trying to intercept. but i think frans and jp will combine well.

  • Comment 53, posted at 02.06.09 10:41:39 by try time (superrugby's kryptonite is SANZAR) Reply

  • @Morné (Comment 52) : funny, cos the loose trio cost us the tri nations last year. they were too one dimensional. spies back though should help this year.

  • Comment 54, posted at 02.06.09 10:43:45 by try time (superrugby's kryptonite is SANZAR) Reply

  • @try time (superrugby’s kryptonite is SANZAR) (Comment 54) :

    Luke was there wasn’t he?

  • Comment 55, posted at 02.06.09 10:48:39 by Morné Reply
  • @try time (superrugby’s kryptonite is SANZAR) (Comment 54) :

    And the one that won us the World Cup?

    How much more one dimensional can you get than Danie Rossouw at 8!!!!

  • Comment 56, posted at 02.06.09 10:49:22 by Morné Reply
  • i suppose we can argue this all year, but it boils down to the guys that are selected to do the job. we can all point fingers if they fail, but if they win we forget the pricks.

  • Comment 57, posted at 02.06.09 10:49:24 by try time (superrugby's kryptonite is SANZAR) Reply

  • @Morné (Comment 56) : didn’t i say we are talking about 2 different schalks. post 2007 schalk is overrated. just like 2009 wynand makes pre 09 wynand look like a meisiekind.

  • Comment 58, posted at 02.06.09 10:51:54 by try time (superrugby's kryptonite is SANZAR) Reply

  • @Morné (Comment 52) : This discussion requires another bottle of Glenfiddich 😎

  • Comment 60, posted at 02.06.09 10:57:24 by Pokkel Reply
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  • @try time (superrugby’s kryptonite is SANZAR) (Comment 58) :

    Hmmm and they wanted to drop Schalk in 2006, and he had a shocker in 2007 Super 14 too…

    No, still the same Schalk and the same arguments…

    @Pokkel (Comment 60) :

    Too right!

  • Comment 61, posted at 02.06.09 11:02:06 by Morné Reply
  • crying out loud ..whats going on , is every Rugby journo and his dog quoting JW.

    JW this and JW that amd JW believes .. 🙄

    Don’t get me wrong his opnion counts but not that much..

  • Comment 62, posted at 02.06.09 19:06:36 by CoffeeShopBok;-) Reply

  • @CoffeeShopBok;-) (Comment 62) :


  • Comment 63, posted at 02.06.09 19:45:40 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • CSB
    Jake White rates Earl Rose!!
    He also thinks PDV’s squad is a very good one. 😈

  • Comment 64, posted at 02.06.09 20:57:35 by wpw Reply
  • @wpw (Comment 64) :

    lol I rate Earl Rose ..just needs to iron out his wayward ways on the field and he’ll be a sure game breaker.

    Perhaps selected a season to early but if Jake digs him … then 😎

  • Comment 65, posted at 03.06.09 00:17:20 by CoffeeShopBok;-) Reply


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