Rob Houwing

New-look Bok back 3 looms

2012-08-13 07:14
Sport24 Chief Writer Rob Houwing (File)
Cape Town - Expect the Springbok back three for the first Castle Rugby Championship match against Argentina at Newlands on Saturday to be 100 percent altered, at least in jersey-wearing terms, from the personnel who manned these posts in the final Test against England at Port Elizabeth in late June.

Reading between the lines, it appears that fit-again Zane Kirchner will regain his fullback berth, after getting sidelined by injury in the first Test against England in Durban, and the wings will be Lwazi Mvovo and Bryan Habana.

The long-serving Habana did play in the drawn encounter against England at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, but that was in his more conventional No 11 jersey - this time he is probably the favourite to operate out of position on the right, given the unfortunate absence for several weeks of JP Pietersen.

In the final Test against the English, Gio Aplon had the No 15 jersey, with normal first-choice wing fliers Habana and Pietersen at their orthodox stations; instability at fullback had been aggravated at the time by the unavailability of the second-Test choice there, Pat Lambie.

But a significant reshuffle of the whole back three has been required due to in-form Pietersen’s thumb fracture, especially given that diminutive Stormers star Aplon has subsequently been axed from the Bok squad.

It would be more logical for Habana to swop sides than the considerably less experienced Mvovo - if both specialist left wings are to be accommodated, as strongly speculated - given that he is no stranger to occasional duty as an outside centre, so will have a more natural positional affinity to the right-hand side of the park.

Besides, it is a chance for the long-time Bok banker on the left to acquire a few “novelty” No 14 jerseys to add to his impressive collection, provided that he looks suitably at home on a temporary basis.

Specific, team selection issues were obviously skirted when Ricardo Loubscher, one of the Bok assistant coaches and himself a former Test fullback, held a media briefing on Sunday morning - the team to play Argentina will be formally announced by head coach Heyneke Meyer on Wednesday.

But he also said little to suggest that the back three will differ from the hotly-tipped alliance of Kirchner, Mvovo and Habana.

Asked whether a lack of continuity at fullback was regarded as problematic, given the deployment of all of Kirchner, Lambie and Aplon in succession against England, Loubscher said: “It won’t be something new for the (contenders).

“These guys are professionals and know how to adapt and what to expect ... we expect a physical game and a kicking game (given the heavy, wet conditions being experienced in Cape Town).”

It is no secret that in such circumstances, particularly, Meyer favours fairly brawny individuals to be stationed in the last line of defence, and Kirchner’s 1.86m and near-100kg gives him the edge on someone like the versatile Lambie (1.77m, 92kg) who may offer potentially widespread cover options off the bench on Saturday.

Loubscher did say toward the end of the briefing, perhaps significantly: “Zane got injured and I think it’s only fair that he gets another opportunity.”

He felt that possibly engaging two left wings on Saturday “would not make a helluva difference” and need not be regarded as a snag.

“Test players can adjust to these situations.”

He confirmed that probably having an impressive array of line and tactical kickers in the expected Bok backline on Saturday - aided by the return of Frans Steyn to midfield after his honeymoon-induced absence from the PE Test - would be handy at Newlands.

“At Test level kicking is always a big part of your game. We’re fortunate to have all those guys available. It’s definitely an area where we are working hard to establish 100 percent accuracy in (execution) and also the fielding of kicks.

Frans being (available again) is massive. He is also a big part of our game-plan in terms of his ball-carrying, getting us over the advantage line.”

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

Read more on:    springboks  |  zane kirchner  |  rugby
NEXT ON SPORT24X

VC fight – A time to learn

2014-04-17 11:30

 

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
6 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

 
 
English Premiership flutter

Take Sport24's "expert" tips at your peril...

Featured Blog

The stock of Bulls and Sharks 2014 Super Rugby jerseys are slowly becoming available after the festive season break, writes blogger Baylion.

Latest blogs
Vote

Do you think the Springboks can possibly win the 2015 Rugby World Cup with 60% black representation?

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Newsletters Sign up for the Morning Glory, Super 15 and Soccer newsletters

Blogs Yes your opinion counts. Get it out there

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

Mobile Sport24 on your mobile phone - WAP, alerts, downloads, services

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

iPhone Latest Sport24 news on your iPhone

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

TV schedule Plan your couch time with our searchable sport TV guide

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

 
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.