What a superb team

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :2009 Lions Tour, Original Content, Springboks on 17 Jun 2009 at 09:43
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Well done Divvie! Despite the inevitable protestations to the contrary and the monotonous clanging of the doomsayers, you’ve held your nerve and named pretty much exactly the right team to teach the overrated Lions a rugby lesson this weekend.

Looking down the list of names, I see continuity, I see combinations and I see plenty of experience. There are specialists in all the right places and yet there is also enough utility in the squad to ensure maximum flexibility. Any potential weakness at tighthead (which I don’t believe there will be, since Jenkins is a pretty overrated scrummager, while Sheridan seems a bit of a one-trick pony) has been ameliorated by the selection of two props on the bench and while Deon Carstens may not be a full-time tighthead these days, he’s certainly good enough to hold his own, especially with strong scrummagers like Bakkies Botha, Jaun Smith and Danie Rossouw behind him. The starting front row boast an impressive 110 test caps between them – more importantly, they’re a combination that knows each other well from the Sharks. The locks, of course, need no introduction to one another and with 155 test caps between them, Bakkies and Victor Matfield have to be the premier pairing in the world. What’s more, there’s some sort of weird synergy that comes into play when you pick the two of them together; neither seems half as effective without the other!

It’s in the loose forwards, though, that I’m most convinced we’ve got it right, with yet another provincial combination in Hein Brüssow and Juan Smith. The former has been in astounding form all year and capped that off with a superb individual performance against these self-same Lions two weeks ago. Sure, losing Schalk Burger is a massive blow but you just get the feeling that this year is Brüssow’s year and that he’s about to make his mark on the international stage in a huge way. Pierre Spies is also playing some half-decent rugby this year – not sure if anyone’s noticed! The continuity is evident as well, with five from eight the same as in the Boks’ last test against England, going up to seven from eight if you go back just one test further.

The amazing thing about the backline, of course, is that it’s not really amazing at all. It’s the same combination, bar one, that played (or would have played, but for injury) in virtually every test last year. Frans Steyn in for Conrad Jantjes is virtually the only change that has been made, with Fourie du Preez and Ruan Pienaar a combination established on last year’s tour to the Northern Hemisphere. The three-quarter line of de Villers, Jacobs, Pietersen and Habana is the best we could possibly pick and it’s quite frankly an embarrassment of riches to have a player like Jacque Fourie unable to find a spot in the starting lineup! Frans Steyn has his moments, both good and bad, but fullback is arguably the position in which he can do the most good – and dare I say the least damage. He is defensively rock solid with a huge, albeit somewhat erratic boot and his penchant for the counter-attack, as well as an uncanny ability to beat the first defender should lead to some exciting moments, provided he can quickly establish an understanding with his wingers.

The strategy of picking Morné Steyn on the bench is also a masterstroke. I have full faith in Pienaar’s ability to get his kicks over, should he find his rhythm early on. Should it look, though, as thought we’re heading into ’97 territory, the coach simply has to send the Bulls matchwinner on and Bob’s your uncle. All too simple. Now, where is that Earl Rose chap that everyone was getting so lathered up about? Maybe he’s Player 23 this week…

Well done, I say to the Bok selectors and to PDiv in particular. Now let’s klap these Lions.


  • Like every year or whenever a Boks squad is selected, the media blows it out of proportion…

    PDV was never going to ‘shock’.

    Injuries aside, it is pretty much what everyone would have picked 9 out of 10 times.

  • Comment 1, posted at 17.06.09 09:57:29 by Morné Reply
  • @Morné (Comment 1) : 😉

  • Comment 2, posted at 17.06.09 10:10:46 by Charlie Reply

  • Lovely article Rob, your lock story is so true, together they are like rabid dogs apart they are ineffectual. I am not able to criticize this team even the bench is a good one, and when South Africans can not argue about a Springbok team then the coach must be doing something right, we always have our differences but I have not seen to many arguments, not even from Rob complaining that one of his beloved Sharks should have been in!! 😉

  • Comment 3, posted at 17.06.09 10:14:34 by Whindy Reply
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  • @Whindy (Comment 3) : he he.

    Can’t argue very strongly for Kanko this year. He’s let himself down and I would argue he’s actually pretty lucky to have made the squad ahead of Vermeulen 😯

  • Comment 4, posted at 17.06.09 10:17:10 by robdylan Reply
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  • If the Boks needed any more motivation this is it.

    Go Boks

  • Comment 5, posted at 17.06.09 10:22:02 by Pokkel Reply
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  • i am not sure you can call FdP and RP established combination – they played on egame together on EYT.


  • Comment 6, posted at 17.06.09 10:24:05 by rekinek Reply
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  • “I have full faith in Pienaar’s ability to get his kicks over, should he find his rhythm early on.”

    Remember THAT kick against the Crusaders in the 2007 Super 14….Ruan has a very calm way about him and I’m sure he can handle the pressure.

    The Lions best chance to beat the Boks will be this weekend….I can’t see them beating the Boks on the highveld after the Boks had some match practice

  • Comment 7, posted at 17.06.09 10:26:53 by Pokkel Reply
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  • @Pokkel (Comment 7) : Jusis,that touchline kick was sick wasnt it

  • Comment 8, posted at 17.06.09 10:31:47 by Claytie Reply
  • @Pokkel (Comment 5) : Tool

  • Comment 9, posted at 17.06.09 10:43:11 by Claytie Reply
  • I am pretty sure Agent Percy has also been giving the kickers some sound advice.

    His experience of playing 102 tests and scoring 893 test points will come in handy!!!

  • Comment 10, posted at 17.06.09 10:43:44 by wpw Reply
  • @rekinek (Comment 6) : artistic licence…

  • Comment 11, posted at 17.06.09 10:45:19 by robdylan Reply
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  • And how good has the Proteas been in the World T20. This must be the best balanced side the SA has ever had.

  • Comment 12, posted at 17.06.09 10:48:00 by Pokkel Reply
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  • @Pokkel (Comment 12) : sorry forgot…this is NOT a cricket site…..where is Klempie so we can talk some cricket :mrgreen:

  • Comment 13, posted at 17.06.09 10:50:01 by Pokkel Reply
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  • @Pokkel (Comment 13) :

    You want me to put up a cricket thread??

    I’m sure Rob won’t mind… 🙄

  • Comment 14, posted at 17.06.09 10:53:09 by wpw Reply
  • @Pokkel (Comment 5) : The brits do have a good sense of humour!

  • Comment 15, posted at 17.06.09 10:56:57 by Rahul Reply

  • @wpw (Comment 14) : Maybe you should…our National team is in the Semifinals of the T20 world cup and are unbeaten in the competition.

    (These smileys are taking forever to load)

  • Comment 16, posted at 17.06.09 10:57:49 by Pokkel Reply
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  • @wpw (Comment 14) : don’t let me stop you.

    Hey, I even watched the last 3 games! 🙂

  • Comment 17, posted at 17.06.09 11:04:03 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 17) : 😯

  • Comment 18, posted at 17.06.09 11:21:15 by Rahul Reply

  • @robdylan (Comment 17) :

    At this rate you’ll be watching Bafana Bafana tonight…

    @Pokkel (Comment 16) :

    Missed yesterday’s game – happy with the outcome.
    Taking it one game at a time…the team looks balanced.


  • Comment 19, posted at 17.06.09 11:27:36 by blackshark Reply

    blackshark - I'm back!
  • @blackshark (Comment 19) : Thank goodness, you got rid of Skipper :mrgreen:

  • Comment 20, posted at 17.06.09 12:03:53 by Pokkel Reply
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  • @blackshark (Comment 19) : 😆 😆

  • Comment 21, posted at 17.06.09 12:26:28 by Claytie Reply
  • @blackshark (Comment 19) : Bafana bawho?

  • Comment 22, posted at 17.06.09 12:50:50 by robdylan Reply
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  • It’s a great team in my opinion. Even stronger with Brussouw there imho.

    My only concern is the front row.
    With two props on the bench it seems like an unnecessary risk to take not to pick at least one tighthead.

    If either Bismarck or John get injured early on Carstens will be playing tighthead all game.

    It would be disastrous if we lost because of this.

    Other than that I find the side as strong as we could’ve had.

    Well done P Divvie.

  • Comment 23, posted at 17.06.09 14:09:03 by VinChainSaw Reply
  • @VinChainSaw (Comment 23) : I” have picked Jannie ahead of Deon. Only change I can think of.

    Not bad, actually.

  • Comment 24, posted at 17.06.09 16:30:41 by robdylan Reply
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  • I am happy to see that all my Shark friends are happy with the team. Who wouldn’t be if you had 7 players from your franchise in it. In my opinion – Frans Steyn, Adie Jacobs, Ruan Pienaar all extremely fortunate to make the side! I am all for continuity but Morne Steyn deserved a start more than any other player this year and Jaques Fourie is quite simply superior to Adie Jacobs. I will give Frans Steyn the Benefit of the doubt but would have opted for Wynand Olivier at 12.

  • Comment 25, posted at 17.06.09 17:26:41 by Arnman Reply

  • @Arnman (Comment 25) : and I guess you want Kuun at hooker and Kirchner at fullback too. How about Rayno Gerber at tighthead while we’re at it? 🙂

  • Comment 26, posted at 17.06.09 19:26:25 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 24) : Carstens offers so much more around the pitch than JdP does. Sure JdP is a very good TH, but Deon is not far behind. I know Carstens has taken a lot of criticism for his scruuming through his career, but he is much better than he gets credit for. He is one of the strongest okes whenever he steps on a rugby field. Rob knows how great a regard I have for Carstens. I challenge you all to one thing, and I am quite serious about this. Find me one scrum (film footage) where Carstens goes backwards. I have never seen this, sure Deon goes to ground a fair bit in the scrrums, which makes it look like he is taking a beating, but I have never seen him go backwards. The Aus mob is known for going to ground if the front row does not get the hit just right in the scrum, better reset than get pushed backwards. I think Carstens does some of this, if he does not feel in control, he goes to ground to get a reset, looks bad, but clever play. Deon does not take a lot of penalties at scrum time, very few in fact, so this technique may be quite effective no matter how boring. Point is Carstens will never let any team he plays for down. He will step up and play TH for most of the game if he has to and do it effectively. He will still have his bullocking runs, and even his bursts down the touchline, and along with all that, he will be man one at the fringes of the rucks defensively driving the ball carrier back with his tackles. I’m sorry, but Jannie, while a super scrumming TH, simply does not offer all this that Deon does, and I am also sorry to say that Jannie’s defensive work is not the best, I have seen him fall off too many tacklers.

    As for the team, I am having a hard time finding anything I would do different. If I were going to bring JdP in, I would have Carstens and Jannie on the bench, but Gurthro has been playing very well this year (remember his Super 12 debut was with the Sharks). One change I would make if I had the choice would be to drop Bekker from the bench, you have Pakslae who can cover lock, and bring in Kanko to the bench. Why carry both Bekker and Pakslae on the bench? I think Kanko offers far more as an impact player than either of these two. I really hope that Adi’s shoulder is 100% because we can not afford to have him defend like he did against the Bulls in the Super 14 game, clearly his shoulder was bothering him, and it showed defensively. If his shoulder is not 100% I would bring in Fourie, Adi would still be my first choice, but we need him for some years to come, so he needs to sort his shoulder problem out properly.

  • Comment 27, posted at 18.06.09 05:17:29 by Dancing Bear Reply
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    Dancing Bear
  • @Dancing Bear (Comment 27) : My shoulder’s honkey dorie, I am ready to down a Lion… 😈

  • Comment 28, posted at 18.06.09 07:56:15 by Charlie Reply

  • @Dancing Bear (Comment 27) : only reason for favouring Jannie is for his technical superiority as a scrummaging tighthead. Deon’s all-round game is streets ahead. I just wanted a rock-solid tighthead as backup to Smit. You now have three essentially very similar props in the 22 in Beast, Deon and Gurthrö

  • Comment 29, posted at 18.06.09 08:34:15 by robdylan Reply
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  • @Charlie (Comment 28) : put that overrated Roberts on his back, please. That will shut the Lions hacks up for a bit.

  • Comment 30, posted at 18.06.09 08:36:00 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 30) : JDV’s have his number, BOD’s locked on my radar 😉

  • Comment 31, posted at 18.06.09 08:40:00 by Charlie Reply

  • @Pokkel (Comment 13) : I don’t care about the “cricket”. Last year’s IPL finalists came stone last this year while this year’s finalist were in the bottom half last year. The current T20 champions couldn’t buy a single win in the second round of this year’s comp. T20’s a complete lottery.

  • Comment 32, posted at 18.06.09 13:59:36 by klempie Reply

  • @klempie (Comment 32) : Agreed!!! 😉

  • Comment 33, posted at 18.06.09 15:21:44 by Me2 Reply

    Me2 aka Mama Shark

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