No guts, no glory
Comment by Tank Lanning – Sport24 editor
London – “Better late than never” was my immediate thought upon hearing that centre Andries Strauss will join the Springboks in London on Wednesday.
He has been called up as a replacement for the injured Zane Kirchner, who suffered concussion and a mild elbow sprain in the 21-11 victory over England, for the tour finale against the Barbarians at Twickenham on Saturday.
Right from the get go I thought the initial Bok squad selected was light on specialist centres, and with Kirchner having had to play centre and the likes of Elton Jantjies, Alistair Hargreaves and Coenie Ossthuizen having carried the bags for the entire tour, so it seems I might have been on the right track.
But it’s probably a little too late now. I can’t see Peter de Villiers throwing Strauss, someone who has not been part of any Bok squad or training session ever, into the international mix right away.
Also, with the coach feeling obligated to give each of the initial squad a start, it seems Jantjies get the nod at flyhalf, with Pat Lambie and Adi Jacobs forming the centre combination.
Which would be a little sad actually … I can see the reasoning, but if the Boks are going to keep the ball in hand a little more – and let’s hope that to be the case against the Baa Baas - the half back combination you want is Francois Hougaard and Lambie.
And quite clearly Baa Baa coach Nick Mallett has heard the same thing. Speaking to Sport24 colleague Stephen Nell yesterday, Mallett praised both Lambie and Jantjies but also had this to say:
“Obviously there is a question about size and how he will defend that channel”
And then watching him put the star studded Barbarians through their paces at a local school gym – due the freezing cold and snow – it was very clear that all strike moves are planned to have the likes of Joe Rococoko and Ma'a Nonu running onto the Bok flyhalf and inside centre channels.
But Mallett also speaks sense when saying that “It’s actually your system that determines how good your defence is”, going on to stress that if Jantjies understands the system and his role in it, there is no reason that he can’t do well. Gio Aplon is a case in point. By no stretch of the imagination a giant, but phenomenal in knowing his role in the defensive system, and hugely technical and gutsy.
And guts a plenty it’s going to take to stop this Barbarian side …
Matt Giteau, a surprise choice as captain it has to be said, leads a team packed full of international superstars including the likes of James O'Connor, Drew Mitchell and Adam Ashley-Cooper to go with the already mentioned All Black cyborgs.
Salvatore Perugini of Italy and Martyn Williams of Wales represent the Six Nations and two uncapped players, New Zealand No. 8 Colin Bourke from the Chiefs, and Western Province captain and second row Anton van Zyl will also be in the run on XV.
The addition of Van Zyl to the Barbarian mix makes this fixture all the more exciting. Obviously he would prefer to be playing for the side in green and gold, but it was fantastic to see his enthusiasm for what should be great entertainment. He teams up with former WP team mate and lock partner, Chris Jack – a man who made such a difference during his stay in the Western Cape, and he is itching to see what he can do against the Bok lineout.
Barbarians: James O'Connor (Aus), Joe Rococoko (NZ), Drew Mitchell (Aus), Adam Ashley-Cooper (Aus), Ma'a Nonu (NZ), Matt Giteau (Aus, capt), Will Genia (Aus), Salvatore Perugini (It), Stephen Moore (Aus), Neemia Tialata (NZ), Anton van Zyl (Stormers), Chris Jack (NZ), Rodney So'oialo (NZ), Martyn Williams (Wales), Colin Bourke (Chiefs).
Replacements: Keven Mealamu (NZ), John Yapp (Wales), Quintin Geldenhuys (It), Daniel Braid (NZ), Andy Ellis (NZ), Stephen Donald (NZ), Seru Rabeni (Fij).
Coach: Nick Mallett
Assistant coach: Alan Solomons
Probable Springbok side: Gio Aplon, Odwa Ndungane, Adi Jacobs, Patrick Lambie, Lwazi Mvovo, Elton Jantjies, Francois Hougaard, Willem Alberts, Juan Smith (captain), Keegan Daniel, Bakkies Botha, Alistair Hargreaves, CJ van der Linde, Adriaan Strauss, Coenie Oosthuizen
Bench: Bandise Maku, Tendai Mtawarira, Jannie du Plessis, Flip van der Merwe, Ryan Kankowski, Charl McLeod, Andries Strauss
Date: Saturday, December 4