One step forward, two steps back

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, Springboks on 19 Nov 2009 at 11:29
Tagged with : , , ,

Looking at the disaster that the Bok tour has been so far, it’s pretty tough to find any positives. With almost half of the squad having now been sent home, let’s have a critical look at the midweek Boks and see if we have actually made any progress at all.

When it comes to the front row, if anything, I guess we’ve learned that there is a lot more work to do before we can claim to be real exponents of the art of scrumming, as Stephen Jones so eloquently pointed out yesterday. Certainly Gurthrö Steenkamp and Jannie du Plessis, both senior players, were shown up badly against Leicester, while Wian du Preez and CJ van der Linde hardly did better against Saracens. Heinke van der Merwe, the poor sod, was on a hiding to nothing right from the start and I’m not really sure what we were expecting to achieve by taking a player who’s been out injured for 6 months and then playing him out of position. Being somewhat lenient on du Preez – I’ll argue that he was probably unable to do very much in a scrum with no stability whatsoever at tighthead – he is probably the only one of the lot who still has a future at this level, although van der Merwe will hopefully be back to his destructive best once he gets some gametime under his belt. Steenkamp and du Plessis need to take a long hard look at themselves, though and decide whether they still have the appetite for Bok rugby. Maybe they’re both just tired? As for van der Linde, well, I’ve always thought he was useless as a scrummager and nothing I’ve seen on this tour has convinced me otherwise.

Chilliboy Ralepelle only played for about 30 seconds in total and we all knew that he wasn’t fit enough to tour in the first place. I’ve said it before – let the poor bastard actually get fit and in form again playing in a lower-level competition. THEN pick him for the Boks, if he’s good enough. Bandise Maku looked out of his depth and still has a way to go, whilst Adriaan Strauss only served to underline his quality.

In the second row, the big disappointment has been Danie Rossouw, with both of the other locks, Andries Bekker and Alistair Hargreaves, making some reasonable strides in the midweek team. Bekker, in particular, has probably been the most improved forward on tour so far. Steven Sykes still should have been in the mix, though and has to be given more opportunities in 2010. Rossouw will solder on, but since he’s the same age as Victor Matfield and Bakkies Botha, we’re going to have to look further than him as our next-best lock.

Dewald Potgieter and Jean Deysel have both been impressive – the latter, in fact, more like superb and it looks like both will win test caps this weekend. The other two midweek loose forwards, Davon Raubenheimer and Ashley Johnson have been poor, with Johnson showing that he is possibly too one-dimensional to really be the answer at number 8. The Griquas man, plucked from obscurity to join the tour, should probably return thither… Shades of Theo Oosthuizen all over again, I’m afraid.

Heine Adams didn’t play particularly well against Leicester, but was superb against Saracens, while his teammate Francois Hougaard was about the opposite. I’m not quite sure exactly what role Hougaard is meant to be playing now that he’s been asked to stay behind with the Test squad but if he’s the reserve scrumhalf, based on Tuesday’s performance, we’re in big trouble. Adams, despite his age counting against him, is definitely worth another look, though. Ruan Pienaar doesn’t want to be a flyhalf anymore and it’s doubtful that he’ll change his mind about that again. The mercurial playmaker will be back at scrumhalf for the Sharks in next year’s Super 14 and my feeling is that the number 20 jersey in the Bok squad is the one best suited to him. If anything, this tour may just have driven the final nail into the Pienaar-as-a-flyhalf coffin and although I still feel he is a superb option in that position, there’s no point in persisting with the switch if the player himself has lost faith. So back to the drawing board when it comes to a flyhalf, but I guess at least we can start to put together a more sensible pecking-order when it comes to scrumhalf.

Wynand Olivier did nothing to impress me, but you get the feeling that, when it comes to most of the rugby scribes out there, the only thing that Olivier really has to do to make the test team is to not be Adi Jacobs. He remains a devastating provincial rugby player but his lack of vision and imagination will always be his undoing at national level. His partner, Juan de Jongh, however, showed some real touches of class and I’m looking forward to see him play in the Super 14 – that’s if he can manage to get any gametime now that Mossie Fourie is ahead of him at the Stormers. Meyer Bosman had virtually no opportunities to impress, but failed quite spectacularly to do anything whatsoever anyway. I hope he enjoyed the shopping. Let’s please not pick this guy again? He offers nothing.

In the back three, Earl Rose and Jongi Nokwe were the only ones to emerge with any credit, with Nokwe’s pace again really shining through as the must-have accessory for any top winger. Poor old Odwa looked more and more like he just isn’t quick enough anymore and he’s surely now got to be looked at as a fullback option for the Boks – given how kak Zane Kirchner is! Riaan Viljoen was in the same boat as Bosman. Had very little to do, but failed to take advantage of the opportunities that he did have and looked, frankly, out of his depth even at this level.


  • If the Sharks had any sense they would try to sign Nokwe.

    He scores tries and has loads of pace which poor Odwa clearly doesn’t have.

    His defense as well as his workrate has improved dramatically!!

    I can’t believe Naka excluded him from the match squad for the CC final.

    Was he not their top try scorer this season?? 😯

  • Comment 1, posted at 19.11.09 11:53:58 by wpw Reply
  • Pretty much a succinct and fair evaluation of all the players. Nice article, Rob.
    Now for f%$#$ sake, SA Rugby, give these guys a holiday!

  • Comment 2, posted at 19.11.09 11:59:41 by CapeShark Reply
    The Great Couch Shark
  • @wpw (Comment 1) : sharks already have Vulindlu and Mvovo, both of whom we’ve invested heavily in. Watch Lwazi Mvovo… that boy has legend written all over him

  • Comment 3, posted at 19.11.09 12:00:18 by robdylan Reply
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  • anyone notice that I left the hookers out? 🙂

  • Comment 4, posted at 19.11.09 12:07:07 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 4) :

    Now why would you do that??

    Did Maku ALSO attend Boys High?? 😆

  • Comment 5, posted at 19.11.09 12:12:58 by wpw Reply
  • Rose, Nokwe, De Jongh, Adams, Deysel, Pottas, Bekker, Strauss proved they are more than capable back up players.

    That covers positions;

    2, 5, 7, 9, 11 and 15

    We lack a quality 3, 4, 6, 8, 10 and 12

    6 and 8 I am not too worried about, Spies, Schalk, Vermeulen and some others covers our loosies well.

    3, 4 and 10 are major concerns.

    All and all, there were some positives from this tour.

  • Comment 6, posted at 19.11.09 12:30:36 by Morné Reply
  • @wpw (Comment 1) : What you should be asking is why the Hell Rassie even let him go – and then signed that Wylie Human

  • Comment 7, posted at 19.11.09 12:30:56 by Worcestershire Sauce Reply
    Worcestershire Sauce
  • Potential at 10 and 12 – The Eberson brothers – givne a full crack at Super 14 – be interesting to see where they stand. Potgieter, Cheetah soon to be a Bull offers a steady back-up – given what i have seen in this years CC – hopefully he will get Super 14 time next year.

    I think it may be too soon to write off Peter Grant as a 10.

    I am sure a 4 will come to light – this place is filled with big thick okes suitable to replace Bakkies – we just need to identify and start blooding.

    If someone has’t they need to take Pienaar out behind the shed and shoot him to put him out of his misery.

  • Comment 8, posted at 19.11.09 12:34:38 by Worcestershire Sauce Reply
    Worcestershire Sauce
  • “One step forward, two steps back”

    New Sakkie-Sakkie dance style ???

  • Comment 9, posted at 19.11.09 12:38:47 by Charlie Reply

  • @Worcestershire Sauce (Comment 7) :

    Claytie’s uncle aint that bad… 😉

  • Comment 10, posted at 19.11.09 12:46:49 by wpw Reply
  • @Worcestershire Sauce (Comment 8) :

    I think we have decent ‘enforcer type’ locks to take over from Bakkies, problem is we are not selecting them.

    Fondse, Steenkamp and Van Zyl come to mind.

    The Sharks guys will punt Sykes but all knowledgable supporters know he is not good enough!! :mrgreen:

  • Comment 11, posted at 19.11.09 12:50:53 by wpw Reply
  • South Africa’s leading lard-bottoms (according to Stephen Jones)
    The pumped-up props for whom reverse gear is a way of life.

    10. Wian du Preez – came on as a replacement for South Africa against Sarries at Wembley, hammered by Richard Skuse then ritually slaughtered by Carlos Nieto in the final quarter. Ran backwards.

    9. BJ Botha – when last I was in South Africa, one of the home prop-slobberers told me to watch out for BJ, he was something special. Indeed he was. He stayed hidden for 80 minutes.

    8. C J van der Linde – shocking. He was beasted to kingdom come in the Wasps-Leinster Heineken match at Twickenham last season. Cue disappearance of CJ and enter unopposed scrums.

    7. Lawrence Sephaka – still staggering about in France last time we heard. Was usually carted off at half-time in big games after being murdered in the scrum. Token-selection suspicions ahoy.

    6. Gurthro Steenkamp – nice bloke, but he couldn’t scrummage your Auntie. Totally obliterated by Martin Castrogiovanni of Leicester at Welford Road last week. Would struggle for a beer-only contract in a local leagues outfit.

    5. Ollie le Roux – great jolly barrel of a man. Enjoyed the odd gallop prior to a ten-minute break for wheezing and getting his breath back, but yet another Bok prop who was simply not at the races as a scrummager.

    4. John Smit – a few years ago he was a decent hooker. Now, in answer to the savage dearth, he is a prop who, if he quickened up dramatically, would be military slow-medium.

    3. Jannie du Plessis – smashed to pieces by the reserve Leicester front row last week. Big and chunky and a shame he kept missing the How to Prop seminars. No forward gears, apparently.

    2. Tendai Mtawarira – even by the second-half of the first Test against the Lions we knew that his striking scrummaging against Phil Vickery in the first half had been a freak, aided by a ref who let him scrum with total illegality. In the rest of the series, including the return against Vickery in the third Test, he was demolished

    1. Os du Randt – the mountainous hero, the untouchable, four-square baldy of scrum-time, adored in the Republic. Especially by those whose televisions were on the blink when he was destroyed piece by piece and utterly humiliated by Julian White at Twickenham a few years ago.

  • Comment 12, posted at 19.11.09 12:52:04 by wpw Reply
  • @wpw (Comment 12) : Now this is pure arrogance, hopefully our props read this to be extra motivated for the future 😈

  • Comment 13, posted at 19.11.09 13:09:12 by Charlie Reply

  • “Wynand Olivier did nothing to impress me, but you get the feeling that, when it comes to most of the rugby scribes out there, the only thing that Olivier really has to do to make the test team is to not be Adi Jacobs.” ❓ ❓ ❓

  • Comment 14, posted at 19.11.09 13:16:34 by Charlie Reply

  • @Charlie (Comment 14) : you disagree?

  • Comment 15, posted at 19.11.09 13:28:31 by robdylan Reply
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  • @Morné (Comment 6) :

    Dont you regards Brussouw to be in that class too??? 😯 ❗ ❓

  • Comment 16, posted at 19.11.09 13:29:52 by Xmas Ice-Icle Reply
    Competition Winner Ice
  • @wpw (Comment 12) :

    Shit! This oke is just a bundle of joy, isnt he?? 🙄

  • Comment 17, posted at 19.11.09 13:34:00 by Xmas Ice-Icle Reply
    Competition Winner Ice
  • @Charlie (Comment 14) : Why are we comparing a 13 with and a 12? Jacobs is decent backup for Fourie. He is also versatile and is thus a great player to have on the bench.
    It seems the the school that thinks you can play a talented guy in any position have learnt nothing.

  • Comment 18, posted at 19.11.09 14:20:14 by fyndraai Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
  • @fyndraai (Comment 18) : but 12 has always been Jacobs’ preferred position

  • Comment 19, posted at 19.11.09 14:31:52 by robdylan Reply
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  • @fyndraai (Comment 18) :

    Adi played most of his rugby at 12.

    From SAU19, Currie Cup and S14 to his debut for the Boks.

    I would even go as far as to say he played more rugby at 12 than Wynand has.

    Wynand has played over 20 tests and proved without a doubt that he is not good enough.

    He doesn’t pass and his ‘step inside’ is predictable.

    He shouldn’t even be in the squad.

  • Comment 20, posted at 19.11.09 14:40:27 by wpw Reply
  • @wpw (Comment 12) : Someone should send it to the SA team hotel. Might work as motivation. If they notice it of course. Probably getting stuck into the pizza and pasta over there LOL

  • Comment 21, posted at 19.11.09 14:41:37 by Original Pierre Reply
    Original Pierre
  • @wpw (Comment 20) : My mistake then.
    We can compare them.
    Jacobs can step and pass but his defense has a question mark. Olivier’s defense is solid but his stepping and passing is poor. In my opinion, the number 1 job for a 12 is defense. Therefore, I prefer the safe sure route.

    I’ll use the recent experience at 10 as an analogue.
    Getting your backline away is nice, but for a 10 its not as important as kicking. For a 12, you want a tackler, just like a 9 must be able to pass, a 6 fetch, a 1 scrum, etc.

  • Comment 22, posted at 19.11.09 15:05:15 by fyndraai Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
  • @fyndraai (Comment 22) : if all we want from a 12 is defence, then I cannot fathom how come Brad Barritt hasn’t played 30 test for the Boks already. Best defensive centre I’ve seen in 10 years.

  • Comment 23, posted at 19.11.09 15:31:02 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • @wpw (Comment 12) : Oh! Part of its here, that is actually funny, very entertaining, but apparently SJ has not received a [email protected]€§ KLAP from a Prop yet.

  • Comment 24, posted at 19.11.09 17:27:20 by JarsonX Reply
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  • The IRB has apologised to the All Blacks for Dickensons inept scrummaging knowledge. I for one feel that SA players try to rely on size rather than good scrummaging technique, this is where I thought BJ was rather good, however the Powers That Be shunned him so off to Europe he trundled. So even though SJ is beeing his tiresome self he has a point the Bok scrum is useless, I am sure Props from our bygone error must be turning in their graves watching a Bok scrum get bullied. I also don’t want to be a fly in the ointment (living in NZ and no showing of Bok matches so I am going on what I have read), but some of these Dirttrackers like Rose, Nokwe, Strause, etc are being praised for playing well against Pommy Club sides, who we down South are very quick at saying wouldn’t cope with the Super14, or am I wrong???

  • Comment 25, posted at 19.11.09 22:32:01 by Dynamite Reply

  • Oops should proof read before submitting Era (not error)

  • Comment 26, posted at 19.11.09 22:34:08 by Dynamite Reply

  • Rob @ 15. Did not understand what you meant in 14 🙄

  • Comment 27, posted at 19.11.09 23:56:11 by Charlie Reply

  • @Charlie (Comment 27) : I meant that most rugby writers seem to have it in for Adi. They only like Wynand because it means Adi will be out if he gets picked.

  • Comment 28, posted at 20.11.09 00:19:26 by robdylan Reply
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  • @Dynamite (Comment 25) :
    Agree with you regarding the club sides. Both Leicester and Saracens were not even at full strength, particularly Leicester who had something like 16 first choicers missing – if the commentators can be believed.

  • Comment 29, posted at 20.11.09 13:53:08 by Salmonoid Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    Salmonoid the Subtle
  • @robdylan (Comment 28) : Maybe because Jacobs does not fit the mold of the SA 12, normally a big bruiser or a ferocious tackler (preferably both).

  • Comment 30, posted at 20.11.09 14:55:46 by fyndraai Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
  • @fyndraai (Comment 30) : funny, but I saw Adi put in more big tackles against France than any other backline player. Guess I was watching a different game, as usual 🙂

  • Comment 31, posted at 20.11.09 15:24:10 by robdylan Reply
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