Herman Mostert

Five lessons from Bok Tests

2014-06-30 11:24
Herman Mostert (File)
FIVE lessons learnt from the Springboks’ matches played over the past month:

1. SA Rugby has enough depth

This past weekend’s 55-6 thumping of Scotland in Port Elizabeth was proof of the depth Bok coach Heyneke Meyer has at his disposal.

Meyer was forced to ring the changes for the Test at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium after seven of his players were released to their European clubs.

It opened the door for several promising young players to make their mark, with flyhalf Handré Pollard, prop Marcel van der Merwe, lock Stephan Lewies, loose forward Teboho “Oupa” Mohoje and flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff all making their debuts.

Pollard, in particular, stepped up with aplomb as a new-look Springbok team ran riot. This young team should perhaps have featured earlier in the month in games against the World XV and Wales…

2. SARU should eye central contracting

Throughout the past month, Bok coach Meyer stressed on several occasions his concern for the state of his top players, who he feels are overplayed.

Following the narrow 31-30 escape against Wales in Nelspruit two weeks ago, Meyer said: "I almost don't want to say it, but I'm worried about the state of the players. I've never seen the players so fatigued or overplayed at this stage of the year. And I'm not saying this to make excuses.”

There’s no doubt that too much Super Rugby is being played, and several top Springboks have been utilised week in, week out.

It’s time SARU start following New Zealand’s example of offering players central contracts, which would allow them to pull their top players out of parts of the Super Rugby competition.

The Kiwis are doing a great job at extending the careers of Messrs Carter and McCaw, in particular…

3. There's NOT a lack of quality flyhalves in South Africa

Handré Pollard’s seamless introduction into Test rugby this past weekend was proof that South Africa has no shortage of quality No 10s.

Just a week prior, he was dazzling with his performances for the Baby Boks on the junior world stage in New Zealand, before flying halfway across the world to make a stellar senior international debut.

Morné Steyn will remain Meyer’s No 1 pivot, but with Johan Goosen, Marnitz Boshoff and fit-again Pat Lambie also in the mix, there is no shortage of top class flyhalves for the Boks to call on.

4. Scrum issues

This writer is no scrum expert, but it didn’t take a rocket scientist to see that the Bok scrum was under pressure for large parts in the past month.

The experiment with Coenie Oosthuizen at tighthead did not work in the Tests against Wales, and when he was back to his more customary position of loosehead against Scotland, things hardly improved. He was perhaps a bit rusty having not played there in a while, but looks a player all at sea at present.

It was also evident in the past four weeks that the Sharks front row of Tendai Mtawarira, Bismarck and Jannie du Plessis clearly need a break - something they’re unlikely to get with the Sharks eyeing Super Rugby glory over the next few weeks.

This area is likely to give coach Meyer and his coaching staff a few headaches ahead of the Rugby Championship in August.

5. The Bok backs can run!

The Springboks proved in the last month that they can score some scintillating tries out wide. Willie le Roux was no doubt the standout player, with his distribution and running skills simply sublime. His interplay with equally impressive runners like Bryan Habana, Cornal Hendricks and JP Piertersen did a lot to shed the notion that the Boks can only play a 10-man game under the coaching of Meyer.

23 tries in four games is a lot to write home about!

Herman Mostert works at Sport24 - and fancies himself as a bit of a tennis player and sports writer...

Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.

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