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Posts Tagged ‘jake white

Will the Boks defend their title in 2011?

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AB Captain Ritchie McCaw

Image by nznationalparty via Flickr

 

 It was bound to happen. At some stage of his Springbok coaching career, Pieter de Villiers was going to get exposed. The time has come in 2010, where a shift in rules that favours the attacking team was completely missed by de Villiers.

The All Blacks were ready. They blasted off the 2010 Tri Nations in style, obliterating South Africa and Australia in the process. The Men in Black played intelligent rugby. They are holding onto their ball in their own half and backing themselves to retain possession and eventually create space out wide.

A large part of their game plan has been based around Ma’a Nonu who can carry the ball up powerfully as the second receiver. In contrast the Boks have looked directionless and have played with no real purpose, although nothing can be taken away from the passion they breathed into the Soweto Test.

Jake White’s game plan has come to an end. The strategy that won the 2007 World Cup is old school now and fresh ideas are needed…..and quickly.

Some of the senior men in the Bok team are looking…..well ….old. John Smit is captain courageous but Ritchie McCaw is more looking the part of a 2011 World Cup winning captain than Smit is right now.

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It would take a brave coach with certain knowledge that he will win the World Cup next year to fire Smit at this late stage. Pieter de Villiers is damned if he drops Smit and damned if he doesn’t.

Key combinations have still not been established in the Bok team. Just who the center pairing, the loose forwards and the front row are going to be in a year’s time is still not clear.

Playing “Barney” at prop is not a solution for 2011 and if he is not the first choice hooker then sadly it is time to let the old warrior hang up his boots. Just who will captain the Springboks then is an intriguing question.

Victor Matfield has lead the Boks before but has not dominated the line out internationally this year and may be under pressure from Andries Bekker for the number 5 jersey come 2011.

Another candidate being mentioned is fellow Blue Bull Fourie Du Preez. Much respected by both the players and the South African public nobody would argue with the choice.

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However, Fourie is a quiet man and the captaincy role may cause him to take his eye off his game. And if South Africa is to win 2011, it will all revolve around Fourie Du Preez being on top of his game without any added responsibility.

One other player that is in the mix is tough as nails Juan Smith from the Free State. The rugged flanker had a lot of input into the Springboks resurgence at Soweto and is also a well respected man in South African rugby.

Smith leads from the front and will never take a step backwards. We have learnt from the great victories of 95 and 07……it takes nerve to win a World Cup. Being led into a final by Juan Smith in 2011, nerve and a determination not to step backwards will be instilled into the Springbok’s quest to defend our title of World Champions.

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Welcome back Schalk Burger

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One of the highlights in Super 14 rugby this past weekend was the welcome return to form of the big Springbok flank, Schalk Burger.

 Time and time again opposition players were hit back in defense during the Stormers vs Highlanders game and many of these tackles were made by Schalkie, without any help from his team mates.

 

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It was Burger at his best defensively and it certainly contributed to the Stormers upset victory.  Andries Bekker made his presence felt and added the grunt to the Stormers pack, that has sadly been missing this Super 14 season.

So who is now in contention for a place in the Bok team?  Well since the days of Jake White, consistency has been part of the winning formula and Pieter De Villiers has wisely continued along that path.

Lets look at the last Springbok team that played. It was on 22 November 2008, in that crushing victory over England (something we shouldn’t let the British lions forget either).

Conrad Jantjes

JP Pietersen

AD Jacobs

Jean de Villiers

Brian Habana

Ruan Pienaar

Ricky Januarie

Beast Mtawarira

John Smit

Jannie du Plessis

Bakkies Botha

Victor Matfield

Schalk Burger

Danie Rossouw

Pierre Spies

Reserves:

Jacques Fourie

Francois Steyn

Brian Mujati

Chilliboy Ralapella

Heinrich Brussouw

Andries Bekker

Ryan Kankowski

 

Who will make the 2009 Sprinbok XV?

Fullback:

 

Conrad Jantjes has not been in great form this season; admittedly he is part of a losing Stormers set up that is more set on defense than attack.

 

However, it is time to settle Francois Steyn in the team and with the abundance of centers in South Africa; Steyn is moved to the number 15 jersey for evermore.

 

Right Wing:

 

JP Pietersen has been a try magnet again this season and takes his rightful place in the team.

 

Left Wing:

 

Jongi Nokwe knows how to score tries.  The Free State flyer is no stranger to the try line and has scored some fine tries during the Super 14. 

 

The man wearing the number 11 jersey is Brian Habana who is also hitting form again and cannot be left out of the Bok XV.

 

Habana retains his place with Nokwe on standby.

 

Outside Center

 

Jacques Fourie has been devastating for the Lions but has been injury prone.  AD Jacobs was had a solid season but has not been helped by an indecisive Sharks backline with Francois Steyn at flyhalf.

 

It is always good to have a combination in midfield and with that in mind I am going for Fourie for the number 13 jersey.

 

Inside Center

 

Jean De Villiers made the number 12 jumber his last season but has also battled to strike form in 2009.  Wynand Olivier from the Bulls has been in great form and with the idea of hitting the Lions hard in midfield to open up the space for our wingers, a new combination will be given a chance.  Wyand Olivier and Jacques Fourie will be the new center pair.

 

Flyhalf

 

Ruan Pienaar is coming back from injury and is Pieter De Villiers’ first choice for the flyhalf position.  He will also be the goal kicker in the team.  Should he still be injured, Morne Steyn from the Bulls will start.

 

Scrumhalf

 

Fourie Du Preez remains world class and will regain his place in the starting line up.  Ricky Januarie has had an indifferent Super 14 and will lose his place, with Rory Kockett making the bench.

 

Loose Head Prop

 

The Beast is becoming a folk hero from the battlefields of Dunedin to the hard playing fields of Kimberly.  He has still not hit his peak yet and is still developing as a prop.  He will maintain his place. Guthro Steenkamp and Heinko Van Der Merwe have also played well this season.

 

Hooker

 

John Smit will start in the number 2 jersey and will captain the team.  Bismarck Du Plessis has been inaccurate in the line outs and needs to work on his discipline.  Chilliboy Ralapella is also in the mix and will make the bench should Du Plessis be injured.

 

Tight Head Prop

 

This position is a bit of a problem in SA rugby at present. Jannie Du Plessis will start and probably be replaced by John Smit at the 50 minute mark.

 

Locks

 

I don’t think there will be any arguments from the armchair critics about who should play lock for the Boks.  The old firm of Botha and Matfield will be critical to South Africa winning the series, with Botha adding the mongrel to the pack.

 

Andries Bekker will be the third choice lock.

 

Open Side Flank

 

Schalk Burger is starting to look like the Schalk of old and may do enough to make the starting line up.  Heinrich Brussouw has been in outstanding form for the Cheetahs and could even make the team ahead of Schalk on present form.

 

Blind Side Flank

 

Juan Smith has got guts and plenty of it too.  Playing in a losing team is not easy but the big Free State flank is always in the thick of things.  He will be pushed by Duane Vermeulen but regains his number 7 jersey.

 

Number 8

 

Who to leave out is the difficult question for the South African selectors.  Pierre Spies will retain the jersey, with Ryan Kankowski and Luke Watson breathing down his neck. 

 

The Springbok team to face the British Lions looks like this:

 

15: Francois Steyn

14: JP Pietersen

13: Jacques Fourie

12: Wynand Olivier

11: Brian Habana

10: Ruan Pienaar

9:  Fourie Du Preez

8:  Pierre Spies

7:  Juan Smith

6:  Schalk Burger

5:  Victor Matfield

4:  Bakkies Botha

3:  Jannie Du Plessis

2:  John Smit

1:  Beast Mtawarira

 

Reserves:

 

Rory Kockett

Jean De Villiers

Jongi Nokwe

Bismarck Du Plessis

Guthro Steenkamp

Andries Bekker

Heinrich Brussouw

 

Breakdown:

 

Bulls: 7

Sharks: 8

Lions: 1

Stormers: 3

Cheetahs: 3