JJ Harmse

Fit, fresh Boks eye Grand Slam

2010-10-07 12:24
Sport24 columnist JJ Harmse (File)
JJ Harmse

So the Boks are fit and strong again? Does this mean that when they board the plane to take them to Dublin, Cardiff, Edinburgh and London, that they will actually be fresher than their opponents from Ireland, Wales, Scotland and England on their Grand Slam tour?

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Remember, our opponents will be three months into their respective seasons and would have played every weekend, not only in their own domestic league, but also the Magners League, the Heineken Cup and Amlin Cup, travelling all over Europe for those fixtures.
So the whole argument of us being tired and overplayed and them being fresh and at the start of their season will not count this time around.

Because, according to our national team coach and support staff, our boys are now fit and strong again, and in some instances, like with Bakkies Botha, Danie Rossouw and Bismarck du Plessis, stronger than before and with regards to Jaque Fourie and Bryan Habana, faster at the coast.
I chuckled when I read that last part. What does the following sentence mean?

“...while Bryan Habana and Jaque Fourie were the quickest we have ever tested at sea level and someone like Adi Jacobs tested really well in all aspects.”

Does this mean that Bryan and Jaque are the quickest guys ever tested at sea level or does it mean that they are the quickest since being tested at sea level ever?
If you remember, the Boks were tested in the past and most of those tests were done in Bloemfontein, where especially the sprint testing results will be better.

I would have taken more comfort in a stat that told me that, since Bryan and Jaque joined the Stormers at the end of last year, they have tested quicker than ever. Then one could have assumed that the conditioning programme actually worked and made then faster.
And if Jaque and Bryan tested quickest ever, what about the rest?

I remember when Jake White introduced fitness levels to the Bok squad early in his tenure, it was a well guarded secret at the time that captain John Smit did not pass on a couple of benchmarks set.

And who is the most talked about Springbok when it comes to fitness in the country?
Ricky Januarie of course.
Any mention on whether he became slimmer and/or faster and/or fitter?

Not a chance!

Can one suspect that telling us Bryan and Jaque are quicker and Bakkies and Bismarck are stronger, but not telling us anything about Ricky, that there is nothing good to tell about the scrumhalf?
Or am I too cynical about this?
Also, how about this: “The work the players have done with their conditioning coaches has been very encouraging and the average injury risk profile of the squad has dropped by 21%,” Rene Naylor, the Springbok physiotherapist, was quoted as saying.
What is an injury risk profile? I don’t know. And how can you determine the risk of not getting injured if no one was allowed to play for a month?
Too confusing for me. But then again, I have never recovered from my Statistical Methods 144 ordeal on Monday mornings at 08:00 during my student days at Stellenbosch!
There is another thing. Now that we know our boys are fit and strong again, does this mean that all is well for them to go and tour then?
There was an idea mooted from the Bok camp earlier in the year that a lot of the senior guys will be rested and that coach Peter de Villiers will use this tour to blood some possible Rugby World Cup contenders and have a look at some European-based players.
Not a bad idea at the time, but will it still stand with the encouraging news that the incumbents are ready to take up arms? Does this allow the Bok coach, who has just survived the toughest month of his rugby life, to redeem himself and play his best players?
Or does he have some leniency to continue with his original plan?
I would love nothing more to see the likes of Derick Hougaard, Schalk Brits and Ernst Joubert continuing the misery they are heaping upon the Poms in a Saracens shirt, only this time in Green and Gold, or to see Bjorn Basson, Lwazi Mvovo or Juan de Jongh finishing under some foreign posts.
And how good can someone like Flip van der Merwe be on the heavier fields of the UK? And will Coenie Oosthuizen be the next good thing or will this be too soon too early for the Cheetahs prop?
There are a lot of things that can be done, providing that the news and facts we were given on the Boks and their great conditioning are indeed spot-on. And if indeed, it proves to be good news for some, it should be the end of the road for others.

Read JJ every Sunday in Rapport.

Disclaimer: 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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