Div takes the cautious road

2010-11-23 16:04

Comment: Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer

London – If this is to prove Peter de Villiers’ last game in charge of South Africa, he is not trying to spare himself the guillotine by playing any markedly daring cards.

Tuesday’s announcement at White City here of the Springbok team to play England at Twickenham on Saturday amounts rather to a (similarly risky, you could say) vote of confidence in the overwhelming majority of personnel who bungled the Grand Slam at Murrayfield last weekend.

The returns of Pierre Spies and Ruan Pienaar for Ryan Kankowski and Francois Hougaard respectively are the only alterations to the run-on XV, and they do not hint at any special new tactical direction for a game which could leave the underdog Boks with a two-from-four tour record and probably signal the demise of the coaching panel.
Three from four, including a tonic triumph slightly against the odds at “Twickers”, will make it harder for the restless bosses at SA Rugby to hit the extreme-measures button ... and De Villiers is putting faith in “who he knows” for his likely survival.

No, for all the mounting talk of Sharks sensation Pat Lambie getting a maiden start, he stays firmly rooted to the bench.

In many respects the retention of dead-ball points-plunderer Morne Steyn is understandable: all the weather signs still point to freezing conditions in the English capital on Saturday with a tipped maximum of 2 deg C and the possibility of snow showers.

So things may not get “sexy” and Steyn will be relied upon to bang over penalty opportunities that come the Boks’ way if they can ensure essential good field position in a grinding, no-place-for-the-faint-hearted tussle.

The clearly conservative selection also means retention of the not ideal centre combination of Jean de Villiers and Frans Steyn, the latter clearly not hugely suited to No 13 but staying firmly put there.

Again, this might not seem an especially progressive move by “Div” and company, but they will also be comforted by the physical presence Steyn offers in his channel – he is very likely to come up against the robust, 10-year Test veteran Mike Tindall there.

And partner  Jean de Villiers assured a huddle of journalists after the team announcement that he would be “making a call to my old buddy Butch James at Bath” to find out a bit more about his own probable opposite number, the Auckland-born Shontayne Hape.

The general status-quo trend also benefits Zane Kirchner, who is a bit of a serial six-out-of-tenner for the Boks in performance terms – not bad, seldom sublime either.
But the Bulls man has the team’s confidence as a defensive entity, it seems, even if in the Edinburgh slush he sometimes handled the “soap” a tad poorly in situations of only limited pressure.

The man-mountain Spies will be expected to offer go-forward from No 8 after being a little oddly rested against Scotland after silencing some detractors in the first two Tests of the trip – Kankowski unceremoniously falls right out of the match-day 22.

Deon Stegmann, the fetcher, is one man for whom Twickenham is rather make-or-break: if he is proving ineffectual and sees very little action once again after half-time, he might plunge a fair way down the pecking order for next season when Schalk Burger, Heinrich Brussow and Francois Louw will hungrily rejoin the hunt for the No 6 jersey.

With England expected to present a formidable scrumming challenge, as they so often do, it is a concern for the Bok camp that both first-choice props, Beast Mtawarira (knee) and Jannie du Plessis (calf) are clouded in varied forms of doubt for Saturday.

Communications boss Andy Colquhoun did have a twinkle in his eye when, asked by Sport24 until when the established pair would be given the opportunity to recover fully, he replied: “Saturday morning”. But he was probably only half joking.

If coach De Villiers is a personality under mounting pressure, he did a pretty decent job of disguising it on Tuesday, fielding questions from both local and travelling media with a straight bat and often a smile.

Asked by Sport24 just how tempting it was to start with Lambie, he replied: “It’s always tempting. But it’s not rugby only that determines such decisions for you ... the weather has to be considered and not too go with the tried and tested might be stupid on this (occasion).”

Be that as it may, if it is Arctic-like on Saturday and the Boks’ supposedly tailor-made team struggles to come to terms with it, will this be the occasion when Div finally gets buried by an avalanche?



  • mattbknight - 2010-11-23 16:31

    Drop Div and the ANC experiment will be a public embarrassment. Hence why Div will be there til the World Cup.

      stompies - 2010-11-23 17:12

      It will be an embarrasment in any case, only of larger proportion. Weel, they can allways blame apart- hate

  • Greegs - 2010-11-23 16:59

    How he was selected in the first place is a mystery? It's obviously a colour thing. He took over such a well coached side with so many senior players that his road has been smooth the whole way. It's backfired really badly and its time for a new coach altho I do agree with you that they'll save him until after the world cup. He should actually resign but has no balls for that! Chilliboy the other experiment should follow suit. We want players and coaches that are equal to the task. Maybe look at Eddie Jones, Jake White or John Mitchell but its certainly time to change!

  • Spyker May - 2010-11-23 17:03

    By: P DIDDY Divie. My sung se naam he is “Du Vraagstuk”.., Ek stap in donker strate op soek na ‘n lig Die enigste ligte in die nag is die vure van die hel Wie gaan by my staan in die koue oggend ryp Wie gaan by my staan as die donker sukies inkruip As die son opstaan op soek na vars bloed Geen vrae op hierdie antwoord nie... Ons het nie meer die energie nie Ek soek mense wat nie kwaad raak as ek gemors maak nie Ek soek minder wanna-bees, mense met ‘n visie Ek soek een, ek soek twee, ek soek ‘n drie sonder vrae Ek soek ‘n wensmasjien, so as ek vra is alles klaar daar Geen vrae op hierdie antwoord nie... Ons het nie meer die energie nie Ek is bly dan is ek kwaad Ek is te vroeg en dan is ek te laat Dan sê ek te veel en dan kan ek nie praat nie Geen vrae op hierdie antwoord nie... Ons het nie meer die energie nie Ag #$$%^! klaar ge-worry.., As jy my soek - ek is die ou met die snor by die bar... PS – all credit to: Die Heuwels Fantasties & Jack Parow.

      skywalker - 2010-11-24 09:02

      Divvy is like a drunk trying to find his way home at night....he uses the lamp posts for support rather than illumination...hence the lack of a gameplan.

  • sharkbait - 2010-11-23 17:04

    I can't see them axing div either... although maybe we could tempt Nick Mallett back...

  • Pop Idol - 2010-11-23 17:07

    I stand firmly behind PDV..Once his contract gets renewed after the world cup,then he should bring in some more younger players and prepare for the next world cup after that,and then his contract should be renewed "until Jesus comes"

      Martin - 2010-11-23 19:39

      Hey Pop Plonker, can I have some of that sh%t you're smoking?

  • sharkbait - 2010-11-23 17:09

    just read this... talk about de ja vu... Writing in the Johannesburg-based Sunday Times, Mallet said the game in Melbourne, Australia, was "not even a match, just a mugging". "There needs to be a mass resignation -- from the president, the vice-president and the managing director of SA Rugby down," he said. "These men have not been successful at any level." The Springboks, he said, had gone from being the best team in the world in 1995, when they won the World Cup in Johannesburg, "to a rabble". The South African press reported meanwhile that SA Rugby Managing Director Rian Oberholzer - in Melbourne - had thrown his weight behind embattled coach Rudolf Straueli, even though Straueli had repeatedly asked that he be judged on the Springbok's World Cup performance. Oberholzer called for continuity and suggested the Cup might have come too soon for the Boks, the Sunday Times reported.

      StaalBurgher - 2010-11-23 17:38

      Yes, and look how that turned out, lol.

      ChumScrubber - 2010-11-23 19:40

      Nice for Mallet to shout his mouth off. Granted, he got some brilliant results - but what happened when he dropped Teich just before a world cup. We were on such a high, we very likely would have won that world cup - Mallet ruined it. A serious brain malfunction or what - all due to a bad end of season tour nogal.

      GraemeBB - 2010-11-24 16:15

      Yup. Mullet started well, but thought he was sa rugby - made some strange decisions of his own, and the rest is history. I still feel for Gary.

  • Eugene - 2010-11-23 17:14

    we can but hope.

  • StaalBurgher - 2010-11-23 17:37

    Maybe he is calm now that the writing is on the wall? But my personal opinion is even if we lose he won't lose his job. That is not how AA appointments work.

  • Francois Pienaar - 2010-11-23 17:48

    Please, please please, just bring Lambie on slowly. He is still a child and must not be thrown to the wolves.

      AnneB - 2010-11-23 18:29

      Agreed. We don't want him out of the game before he has even started, especially with the World Cup around the corner.

      ChumScrubber - 2010-11-23 19:44

      You're probably correct, why dampen his confidence in a losing team. The okie would likely be up to it though, he has amazing composure.

  • James - 2010-11-23 19:36

    cmon div resign. I dare you... it won't be so bad and I'm sure you will have enough saved by now to0 tide you over for a while....

  • ChumScrubber - 2010-11-23 19:48

    Pretty boring selection, hope Spies runs at the oppostion instead of sideways. No use been so big when you run side on to a defense. I would have kept Hougaard - he is a demon player, Fourie must watch his back. No changes probably means no change to the result, we'll likely lose by less. But I still have hope, the team is still good enough to win - if they play as a "team".!!!!!!!!!!

  • cessnakingair - 2010-11-23 20:29

    They will fail as everything has failed under their command.

  • platberg - 2010-11-23 20:56

    I am so disappointed in Oregan Hoskins. he should take the lead and fire the three stooges!

      bokfan1 - 2010-11-24 13:53

      ......and follow the stooges out the door as well!

  • jaco.loxton - 2010-11-23 20:59

    Hopes England wins this with a big score. That will be the final nail in the cofin.

  • Tonyw - 2010-11-23 21:13

    Just another balls up at the office. Who cares for us supporters? Not this idiot! Fire the whole bangshute and let some real personnel take over!

  • bluejay - 2010-11-23 22:46

    some journalists must have great inside information that it would be pdv's final game if the boks lose on saturday or they think we are that gullible to believe everything that they write.maybe the government is on the right path to try and control them.

  • Pierre - 2010-11-23 22:46

    We need a Eddie Jones and quickly. We obviously don't have a workable strategy - and our flyhalf is unfortunately not a playmaker - remember O'Gara? We have a backline with big names but with hardly any (recent) tries to their names - exactly the same useless tactic they had just before eddie Jones joined them in 2007.

  • flood - 2010-11-23 23:58

    Everyone should just forget about the World Cup.....even with a new coach the team won't be able to get used to the new strategies and ideas before start of World Cup. Factor in the extended Super 15 and annual Tri-Nations and the time the team and the new coach will have to gel is pretty damn low! Rather we should get rid of Team PD and install a new coach with a 4 year plan with an eye on the next World Cup in 2015. P.Divvy should be building for the future as well with this tour but his selfishness to try and keep his job is proving detrimental to our team develepment. You couldn't script it.......

      BardofAvon - 2010-11-24 07:05

      I bet that if Heyenke Meyer started on Monday morning we would SO be in with a shout. But the South African Racial Union won't do that, right?

  • swart59 - 2010-11-24 00:34

    Guys, it is really naive to think that PdV and his 2 assistants would volunteer to resign. Who in the world would voluntarily give up such well paying high profile jobs to enter South Africa's bleak job market. The onus rests with SARU to fulfill their mandate to act in the best interest of SA Rugby. SARU should fire non-performing individuals and hire individuals with the best performance track record. Simple even in a complex society.

  • Hannes Perth - 2010-11-24 06:23

    "If this is to prove Peter de Villiers’ last game in charge of South Africa" - Rob you are such an optimist. Common sense does not work when it comes to SA politics nor SA Rugby.

  • BardofAvon - 2010-11-24 07:01

    Why will Div be fired? The South Africa Racialistic Union is not in the slightest concerned about the scoreboard.

      StaalBurgher - 2010-11-24 13:19

      I fear you may be right.

  • skywalker - 2010-11-24 09:09

    I don't think Div will ever get another coaching job if he loses this one...then again maybe some backwater primary school will let him coach for free.

  • riaan.rust - 2010-11-24 17:39

    They can choose the best coach in the world, but if the coach can/may not choose the best individuals in each position, it will still be a lost case.

  • riaan.rust - 2010-11-24 17:40

    We can have the best coach in the world, but if he can/may not choose the best individual in every position, it will still be a lost case.

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