Richard Ferguson

Feeding the flyhalf

Written by Richard Ferguson (Richard Ferguson)

Posted in :Original Content, Springboks on 28 May 2013 at 08:16
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The Springboks start their 2013 season off against Italy in less than two weeks and while there is some debate as to who should wear the ten jersey, my concern is rather the one who feeds the flyhalf.

South Africa has been blessed with some superb scrumhalves in recent times, but within the current crop there is not one that jumps out and secures himself a starting spot. Within the borders, we have the likes of Francois Hougaard and Jano Vermaak who made the training squad.

While Vermaak is the form player between the two Bulls, I am not entirely comfortable with him as the starting scrumhalf. We might be playing lesser opposition during this test series, but this build towards the Rugby Championship starting later in the year.

With only two scrumhalves selected in the training group, it is clear that Ruan Pienaar will join the squad from Europe, once it is selected. Pienaar might not be a favourite amongst South Africans, but is has to be the best bet currently available. Pienaar has been in good form for Ulster, and while the game there is slightly slower, a bit of confidence and his settled nature will go a long way in getting the Springboks on top.

The most important thing is that the scrumhalf fits in with Heyneke Meyer’s plan for the Boks. He would in all likelihood be required to do a fair amount of kicking. Looking at the three options available, Pienaar is again the best of the bunch. Vermaak has the ability to play to Meyer’s plan, Hougaard not so much. Hougaard is an attacking player and would best be suited to a New Zealand style of running rugby. In his favour though is the fact that he can cover wing from the bench, which would see him included rather than Vermaak.

Considering the scrumhalf situation in South Africa at the moment, one has to wonder whether Cobus Reinach would have been called up to the training squad had he been fit. Although Reinach has had an up and down season, he would in my mind be third in line if you exclude the foreign Pienaar.

The future looks good though, with the likes of Reinach, Shaun Venter who is 27 and Piet van Zyl who is only 24. They might not seem the ideal scrumhalves right now, but another year of Super Rugby for each of these players will stand them in good stead.

For now though, we wait on Heyneke Meyer to announce his final squad. We are sure to see these three fight it out for the starting nine jersey, my front runner and best bet being Ruan Pienaar.


  • Agreed.

  • Comment 1, posted at 28.05.13 08:33:40 by David12246 Reply
  • I agree Rich. Hougaard has been poor in the basics of scrumhalf play and while he will look good against the likes of Samoa and Scotland I fear he’ll be found out against NZ and Aus.

    Heyneke hasn’t really made any mention of foreign players,(or did I miss it somewhere) but if he is only going to pick from the current training squad then I really hope it’s Vermaak and not Hougaard.

    Piet van Zyl has really become a more complete player this year. His kicking game has improved a lot and his defence isn’t too bad either. He is a bit green but could also be a great prospect.

  • Comment 2, posted at 28.05.13 08:47:48 by Pokkel Reply
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  • So does the exclusion of Brussow mean that we will see Louw in the mix as well.

    Which other foreign based players are we likely to see?

  • Comment 3, posted at 28.05.13 08:50:29 by Pokkel Reply
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  • I’d agree with Pienaar as best choice of starting at 9. Reinach should work on the speed and accuracy of his passing before he’s considered at springbok level. His double step, kind of slow pass and not always delivering the ball in front of the player robs our backline of loads of momentum.

    He’s fast as hell though.

  • Comment 4, posted at 28.05.13 08:55:23 by PTAShark Reply
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  • @Pokkel (Comment 3) :

    I honestly think that his exclusion directly translates into a starting spot for Louw..

    So now we just wait until Saturday night..

  • Comment 5, posted at 28.05.13 08:55:53 by Richard Ferguson Reply
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    Richard Ferguson
  • @Richard Ferguson (Comment 5) : Ja – me too.

  • Comment 6, posted at 28.05.13 09:58:20 by Ice Reply
    Competition Winner Ice
  • If only Sarel Pretorius could be taught how to tackle…

    Anyway, if our pack is on the backfoot the whole game long or we don’t provide quick ball to our scrumhalf from the breakdowns just about all of the above mentioned options are going to look decidedly average.

  • Comment 7, posted at 28.05.13 10:01:07 by vanmartin Reply
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  • Meyer has said that Louw is his first choice. And Pienaar if I remember correctly.

  • Comment 8, posted at 28.05.13 10:02:39 by McLovin Reply

  • I would like Van Zyl to get some exposure at the Boks this year. He has been the form SA scrummy for me for most of the season.

  • Comment 9, posted at 28.05.13 10:23:14 by Bokhoring Reply

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