Rob Houwing

Mitch, Mallett add Bok spice

2012-09-07 12:06
Sport24 chief writer Rob Houwing (File)
SuperSport appear to have their analysis bases attractively covered for their back-to-back coverage on Saturday of Castle Rugby Championship clashes between New Zealand and Argentina and then the mutually pressured Australia and South Africa.

SS1 start their studio offering around 08:30, just over an hour ahead of the haka in Wellington, and it will be a surprise if the chat, spread over several hours, is mundane – not when it will feature three earthy rugby men in the shape of former Test coaches Nick Mallett (SA and Italy) and John Mitchell (New Zealand) plus the single-minded ex-Wallaby wing David Campese.

It seems the last-named two can’t get enough of our climes, even after Mitchell was unceremoniously axed as coach of the embattled Lions in Super Rugby.

Is he loitering here in search of another post? Or is he simply politely awaiting the outcome of an in-house “investigation” (for the relatively little it now matters) after Lions bosses indicated that complaints had been received about him from players?

Whatever the case, the bald giant remains suitably qualified and self-confident enough to pass judgement not only on the All Blacks, but also the Bok game which follows at 12:35 our time.

He should dovetail nicely with Mallett, who marvellously steers well clear of platitudes and is prepared to be both damning and effusive in equal measure if he feels the need. You may not agree with every word he booms out, but at least he is invigoratingly animated in doing so.

Campo, meanwhile, has his critics - but that is also mostly because of his own, major outspokenness over so many years!

Almost as familiar now with South African rugby structures as those back in Australia, where he was a 101-capper for the Wallabies and legendary for his goose-step, he should only get the studio humming to even higher levels.

I’d recommend earmuffs for telly-watchers not necessarily made of stern stuff, especially if the Boks bore us to death once more.

All that will be missing on Saturday will be an Argentinean voice, alas ... does Hugo Porta happen to be passing Randburg?

Rob’s Awesome Foursome

1. Brazil v South Africa, international soccer friendly
Sao Paulo, Friday 20:45, SABC1 (unconfirmed)

Things tend not to be that straightforward when it comes to SABC TV coverage of Bafana games! When this column was written on Thursday afternoon, the official SABC1 listings did not reflect coverage of this glamour (well, at least for SA) friendly. An inquiry to Auckland Park had also not borne immediate fruit. But considering that as recently as May, bosses at the national broadcaster announced a new three-year plan for live Bafana coverage and promised “the days of blackouts are over”, you’d think the first game featuring Gordon Igesund as coach will crack the nod -- so switch on in at least reasonable hope. And imagine the fresh hullabaloo if the Sao Paulo fixture isn’t screened, of course ...

2. Australia v South Africa, Castle Rugby Championship
Perth, Saturday 12:35, M-Net, SS1, SHD

I have some sympathy for people who are already fearful of the Springboks’ future health under Heyneke Meyer’s coaching command, based on the successive, unimaginative showings against Argentina recently. At the same time, we do need to keep in mind just how immensely the side has changed since the last World Cup, a situation not aided at all by current injuries to sharpest backline implement JP Pietersen and his forward equivalent Bismarck du Plessis. Isn’t it unrealistic to assume that South Africa are simply going to start blowing just about everyone away again under these circumstances? Whatever the merits or demerits of Meyer’s philosophy, the Boks were always going to be vulnerable while the rebuild takes place ... and I do fear, for the record, they may be pipped by the Wallabies here.

3. England v South Africa, first Twenty20 cricket international
Durham, Saturday 15:30, SS2, CSN, SHD2

We’ve reached phase three of the Proteas’ tour of England, with the first of a trio of T20 contests -- the others are at Manchester on Monday and Birmingham on Wednesday. They will serve as near-ideal tune-ups for both sides (remember that England are the defending champions) ahead of the ICC World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka. There’s no rest for the wicked: several of the tour-weary Proteas players who play all formats are hardly going to have any down time, as the national team swings into action at the global event just eight days on from the Edgbaston fixture, against improving Zimbabwe in Hambantota. It’s probably safe to expect some judicious “rotation” and experimentation in the short English series. 

4. Cheetahs v Western Province, Absa Currie Cup rugby
Bloemfontein, Saturday 19:10, M-Net, SS1, SHD

This is the decent Currie Cup “main course” on Saturday – though the preceding Bulls-Lions Highveld derby is also worth keeping an eye on – as suddenly wide-awake, second-placed Province tackle the third-placed Cheetahs in their own den. With a bit of luck, we’ll see a more upbeat kind of game than when these franchises met at Free State Stadium a few weeks back in Super Rugby – the Stormers won a dour contest 13-6 in the mud. It’s a relief that the long-range forecast is for cool and dry weather this time. Look out especially for the nuggety open-side clash between fit-again Heinrich Brussow and WP captain Deon Fourie, who is looking better and better at No 6 since his switch from more customary hooker.



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