Richard Ferguson

Unanswered questions

Written by Richard Ferguson (Richard Ferguson)

Posted in :Original Content, Springboks on 20 Jun 2013 at 13:03
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The Springboks face Samoa in the last of the Incoming Tour matches before the international season takes a step back once again for Super Rugby to continue. The next match for the Springboks is against Argentina in the opening match of the Rugby Championship, which is in the middle of August, and I am worried about the Boks going into this competition.

As I have mentioned in previous scribes, I suspect the Boks may go into the Rugby Championship severely undercooked, thanks to matches against Italy (ranked 12), Scotland (ranked 11) and next up Samoa (ranked 7). This compared to our opposition in the Rugby Championship playing the British & Irish Lions, France (ranked 5) and England (ranked 4). My concerns go further than that though.

Heyneke Meyer had the ideal opportunity to see what exactly the depth in certain positions can do, even if only against the lower ranked teams. The first thing that jumps to mind is the fact that the same front row has started every match so far this International season. That is great for continuity and building combinations, but these players have been played into the ground at Super Rugby, and while the franchise players are taking a much needed break, these guys go back to their unions in need of a break.

Tendai Mtawarira, Adriaan Strauss and Jannie du Plessis will all go back to the Sharks and Cheetahs and continue playing when Super Rugby kicks off again in a week’s time. This would continue for another three weeks, for the Sharks players, Strauss’ Cheetahs might yet make the play-offs, before they go into the next part of the season, the Rugby Championship.

Dare I say it, what might happen if either of Mtawarira or du Plessis get hurt, nevermind both of them. It is all good and well knowing which player works off the bench, but are we really satisfied that Trevor Nyakane can start in the place of Beast and be as effective. The same can be asked of Coenie Oosthuizen, the experiment of playing him at tighthead from the bench has worked, to a certain degree, when coming on for the last 15 minutes, but will it work should he start the match.

Unfortunately, this series of Incoming Tours has left more questions than answers, and I am sure Heyneke Meyer is battling with this himself. Here are my main concerns, and I would like you all to keep this in mind and we will have a look at this again once the Rugby Championship has been played.

First area of concern for me is the front row, as mentioned above. I will not go into much more detail, but questions surrounding the Cheetahs props (add to the equation Lourens Adriaanse who is also in the squad) should be answered. We are all well aware that other props like Pat Cilliers and Frans Malherbe are injured, but even they would find it difficult to play in the absence of Beast or Jannie. At least we seem to know our hookers and which of them are first choice at this stage, so the coverage there is not of concern.

Moving onto the second row, Eben Etzebeth is the only certainty. Juandre Kruger played the first two games and was below par. Flip van der Merwe gets his shot this weekend in one of very few changes we have seen to the Bok team these last three weeks. I do understand that Pieter-Steph du Toit would have been given a run to try him in combination with Etzebeth, but that would have to wait until the End of Year tours, it seems.

The loose trio is in uncertainty and in imbalance. Pierre Spies is the only choice at eighthman at this stage with injuries hampering Duane Vermeulen’s shot at a starting spot. Ryan Kankowski’s absence in a Sharks jersey has done him no favours, with the player moving onto another code altogether. The problem will come if Spies is to be injured, with no other tested player to replace him. As for the flanks, Francois Louw is the other certainty. Combinations with Marcell Coetzee, Siya Kolisi and Willem Alberts have been tested, with none of the above really working any better than the other. Alberts is off the mark in terms of game time and full match fitness, while Coetzee is off form thanks to struggling through a long season with the Sharks. The brightest of finds thus far has been Kolisi, who has been dropped to try and play Willem Alberts into form, which I strongly disagree with. Looking beyond these, Lappies Labuschagne was overlooked for every match and we still have no idea what he is capable of.

Another question left unanswered is “Who is the first choice scrumhalf?” It is understood that Jano Vermaak was started in that first match to give Pienaar a break, but he has started the second match and looked well under par, similar to his performance off the bench in the first match. We have seen substantial injuries in this position which have not helped the rotation at all, leaving Pienaar to start again this weekend.

Morne Steyn’s continued inclusion in the starting team leaves me to believe that he will start the Rugby Championship, even though many thought he would not be available. Lambie’s performances off the bench have not been of the quality that would force Meyer to drop Steyn. The problem would come should Steyn get injured, but we have faith that Lambie will find his lost form and stand up if asked to.

The first choice centre combination also seems to have been found with JJ Engelbrecht cementing his spot alongside captain Jean de Villiers. While Jan Serfontein has had limited time off the bench, there is also Juan de Jongh to call upon. This position seems to be set should any massive injuries hit before the Rugby Championship.

The same can be said about the wings. Bryan Habana and Bjorn Basson have been given starts, and with JJ Engelbrecht and Willie le Roux also able to cover wing in case of injury, the Springbok coach can rest easily when it comes to his back three. Willie le Roux was given a chance to show what he can do in Springbok colours and has shown to be more dynamic than Zane Kirchner. Kirchner is likely to remain in the squad as backup to le Roux, and would leave the Springboks well covered here.

As you can see from the length of this article, there is quite a bit of uncertainty around the Boks and the squad make up come Rugby Championship time. We can only hope that Meyer knows something that we clearly do not. I’m sure there are few people out there who can confidently say they have faith in the current coach, with me not being one of them.


  • Maybe they got some answers to questions they never asked.

  • Comment 1, posted at 20.06.13 13:24:48 by McLovin Reply
  • If Broussouw makes a steal, but Meyer didn’t see it, did it really happen?

  • Comment 2, posted at 20.06.13 13:30:09 by McLovin Reply
  • Meyer is out of his depth in a big way. Worse than Deans even.
    My number 1 problem is his picking of overseas players. This can destroy our game. nr 2 why pick steyn if he isnt gonna play? and if you did make a deal with the french club, then why waste money on giving Pat a springbok contract above steyn? etc etc. Trying to like this guy, but finding it hard

  • Comment 3, posted at 20.06.13 13:30:52 by West Indies Cricket Board Reply
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  • @McLovin (Comment 2) : 😀

  • Comment 4, posted at 20.06.13 13:34:03 by West Indies Cricket Board Reply
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  • @West Indies Cricket Board (Comment 3) :

    Nobody ever said Steyn was not going to play in the Rugby Championship…

  • Comment 5, posted at 20.06.13 13:36:24 by Richard Ferguson Reply
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    Richard Ferguson
  • I have serious doubts as to whether we will be competing with the All Blacks this year. I have an uneasy feeling about the season ahead.

    We should not lose to anyone other than the All Blacks or Wallabies ,yet I think Samoa may give us a thorough examination…

    Meyer apologists will blame the exodus of big name forwards for his failures ,and any success after his term due to the structures he implemented.

  • Comment 6, posted at 20.06.13 13:41:02 by Talent Reply
  • I trust Mr Meyer. :mrgreen:

  • Comment 7, posted at 20.06.13 13:41:10 by McLovin Reply

  • @McLovin (Comment 7) :Thanks, much appreciated! Or were you referring to the Bok coach…?

  • Comment 8, posted at 20.06.13 14:06:21 by Culling Song Reply
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    Culling Song
  • We will not won the RC. Lets hope we are at least competitive.

  • Comment 9, posted at 20.06.13 14:06:51 by Big Fish Reply
    Big Fish
  • @Big Fish (Comment 9) :

    So a second poor performance in the most important annual competition.

    Should we be happy with a four year build-up to the World Cup? What is the point of building to a World Cup if we have to watch rubbish for the other three and a half years..

    This is the exact reason why stadia are empty and people couldn’t gave a damn to watch on TV either..

  • Comment 10, posted at 20.06.13 14:10:33 by Richard Ferguson Reply
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    Richard Ferguson
  • I wouldn’t mind seeing kolosi given a shot at 8th man with Alberts and louw on the flanks, just to see how it went

  • Comment 11, posted at 20.06.13 14:20:16 by RuckingFun Reply

  • @Richard Ferguson (Comment 10) :
    You’re speaking to the wrong guy, Richie – I barely watched any Bok Rugby over the last few weeks myself.

  • Comment 12, posted at 20.06.13 14:25:49 by Big Fish Reply
    Big Fish
  • @Richard Ferguson (Comment 5) : eyewitness news. Probably a kak source for rugby news though… 😀

  • Comment 13, posted at 20.06.13 14:36:48 by West Indies Cricket Board Reply
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  • Another question that remains unasnwered is our game plan. If I see us kick another free kick from the 10 meter line into the air I am gonna shot bricks!!!! We must be the only team in world rugby that freely give away opportunities like that.

  • Comment 14, posted at 20.06.13 14:40:52 by Viking Reply
  • @Viking (Comment 14) : My problem, even though I am a Meyer fan, is that when they kick, it seems that they have taken the easy way out and not thought it through enough.

    Like the free kicks. You are prevented all game long from gathering your kicks, you are behind on the scoreboard, yet we still kick in the middle of the bloody field!

  • Comment 15, posted at 20.06.13 15:48:09 by Bloembull Reply

    Blue River
  • I do believe we have right players to do well in the RC. If Frans Ludeke, which no one rates apparently, can take a Bulls team months after half his support staff and the big boys like du preez, matfield et al left, and still make the play offs in Super rugby, shouldn’t Meyer who is a better coach do better ?

  • Comment 16, posted at 20.06.13 16:00:36 by Bloembull Reply

    Blue River
  • @Bloembull (Comment 16) : What makes you think that Meyer is a better coach than Ludeke – he hasnt done anything since being given the Bok job other than try and repeat a once successful game plan with a skills set that cannot implement it and against opposition who have learnt to counter it 😀

    I think that we are going to have a tough tournament.
    as pointed out in the article we have no depth in the front row – i’m still not convinced about Coenie as a scrummager and Jannie has been erratic.
    Our loose forward combinations are not working.
    And while everyone seems to think that JJ is the answer at 13, and I do acknowlege that he has been very good on attack, I think that he is defensively suspect in the 13 channel which he gets away with against weaker opposition but wont do so against the All Blacks and Aussies.

  • Comment 17, posted at 20.06.13 16:33:13 by steve Reply

  • Did I miss the rugby championship? The way some people bitch it seems like that Bokke already lost all their games even before the first game started. Are you supporting the Bokke or hoping and praying that they will lose so you can say “I told you so”?

  • Comment 18, posted at 20.06.13 16:47:22 by JD Reply
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  • All that is happening here is that Heineken already knows he’s got no chance against the kiwis this year and is simply making sure he wins the easy games in order to keep his win ratio up.

    There’s no conspiracy theory here – he’s making sure he gets the low-hanging fruit.

    Its sad and short-sighted, but then so is Bulls rugby!

  • Comment 19, posted at 20.06.13 17:13:57 by VinChainSaw Reply
  • @JD (Comment 18) :

    I honestly dont really care.
    This team bores me to death if truth be told.

  • Comment 20, posted at 20.06.13 17:14:45 by VinChainSaw Reply
  • @VinChainSaw (Comment 20) : with you on that

  • Comment 21, posted at 20.06.13 18:20:53 by FireTheLooser Reply

  • severely undercooked, is exactly my sentiments and been saying this since day one. I am NOT looking forward to 2013 Championship Cup

  • Comment 22, posted at 20.06.13 19:31:27 by Gerhardt Reply

  • South Africa need will need an overhaul to fix what Meyer has done to the current crop of rookies. Their skill set will be in a derelict state when he leaves.

    Whoever said Meyer is better than Ludeke ,well I haven’t seen Ludeke go 11 from 11 yet. Who has won more Super Rugby trophies?

  • Comment 23, posted at 20.06.13 20:02:44 by Talent Reply
  • The Bulls form ,relative to the Sharks form of last years competition ,is sub standard. We should be trying to emulate a Cheetahs(x factor) ,Sharks(dynamic fusion of forward and back play) and Stormers(granite like defense) game plan concoction.

  • Comment 24, posted at 20.06.13 20:06:03 by Talent Reply
  • So no Kanko for the sevens team.

    Congrats to S’bura, well done on making the squad.

    Nicely put by Mzwandile Stick to Meyer on Boots & All, telling Meyer to stop complaining about poor refereeing and to fix how we adapt to the referee.

  • Comment 25, posted at 20.06.13 20:44:02 by FireTheLooser Reply

  • @Bloembull (Comment 15) : I could not agree with you more. We are lacking that thinking for ourselves. Yes I know Meyer has a game plan but he has to give the players some freedom to make their own deision and bring some innovation and flair into the game.

  • Comment 26, posted at 21.06.13 08:04:17 by Viking Reply
  • Me thinks some of the questions got answered tonight. Wonder if you still think this Bok teams boring?!?!

  • Comment 27, posted at 23.06.13 00:37:05 by JD Reply
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