Boks on Tour
Utility players pay price
Comment by Tank Lanning – Sport24 editor
Pat Lambie and Keegan Daniel (Gallo)
London - Asked if he felt obliged to give all of the Springbok touring squad a start against the Barbarians on Saturday, coach Peter de Villiers replied: “Yes, I picked these guys and brought them on tour. I think they are all good enough to play for South Africa, so I have confidence in them, and the only way to show that is to pick them”
Which also answered what would have been my next question to the coach - why was Patrick Lambie not picked at flyhalf? Lambie, in a way, is already paying for being as versatile as he is. If Zane Kirchner had not been injured, Lambie would have been picked at centre.
Instead Andries Strauss – who took a call in Bloemfontein at 15h30 on Tuesday asking him to be at the airport at 16h30, ready to play for the Springboks – will play at centre with Adi Jacobs, and Lambie will play at fullback.
And with Ma'a Nonu and Matt Giteau set to the attack the flyhalf / inside centre channel, I think the whole of South Africa breathed a sigh of relief. Andries Strauss might not have been in the Bok camp for long, but the one thing he showed in the Currie Cup is that he can tackle.
It would have been fantastic to see Francois Hougaard and Lambie start a game as the half back pairing, but I can see De Villiers’ reasoning with regard to playing Jantjies, and it’s not as if he had the worst Currie Cup in the world with the Lions. Fullback is also the position I first saw Lambie play, and I can tell you something for free – he caught the eye.
The other player suffering from utility perception is Keegan Daniel. Asked why he chose to play Willem Alberts on the side of the scrum when he had an out and out fetcher like Daniel to replace Deon Stegmann, De Villiers had this to say:
“We are a direct team and I want to keep it that way. Keegan can play all of six, seven and eight and I thought it would make more sense play him off the bench and start with Alberts because he can tear big holes in the opposition.”
But this is a move away from the type of loose trio the Boks have played in the previous four Tests, and reading between the lines, one has to assume that the coach simply does not have a huge amount of faith in Daniel the player.
As a firm believer in the fetcher, I thing Stegmann has failed in that role, so can see some reasoning in moving to a trio that carries the ball well and clears the breakdown effectively. Winning the collisions means that a fetcher becomes less important.
But with that in mind, the Boks will miss Bismarck du Plessis. In sensational form this tour (bar Scotland, where the Boks en masse had a truly forgettable day) Du Plessis has often been the man who has forced turnovers and slowed down the opposition ball. New boy Adriaan Strauss has big boots to fill.
As do his front row cohorts. CJ van der Linde seems to have been a little off the pace when he has come off the bench on this Grand Slam tour, while Bok debutant Coenie Oosthuizen is like a wound up spring, such is his enthusiasm to get onto the park. Under the watchful eye of Os du Randt, this front row spent a fair amount of time on the scrum machine in the freezing snow making sure the feet and hip positions were in perfect position on the hit.
As daunting as the opposition might look, it’s also been a long season for a lot of them. A massive hit in the midriff from any of Bakkies Botha, Willem Alberts or Juan Smith as they cut back inside, might just have them questioning why they made to the trip to the land of the big freeze in the first place.
Also, while the Boks might talk about playing a more ball in hand kind of style against the Baa Baas, I do not expect them to move too far away from trying to dominate the opposition up front first. And that has worked quite well thus far …Teams for Saturday:Springboks:
15-Patrick Lambie; 14-Odwa Ndungane, 13-Adi Jacobs, 12-Andries Strauss, 11-Lwazi Mvovo; 10-Elton Jantjies, 9-Francois Hougaard; 8-Ryan Kankowski, 7-Juan Smith (captain), 6-Willem Alberts, 5-Alistair Hargreaves, 4-Bakkies Botha, 3-CJ van der Linde, 2-Adriaan Strauss, 1-Coenie Oosthuizen.
Replacements: 16-Bandise Maku, 17-Tendai Mtawarira, 18-Werner Kruger, 19-Flip van der Merwe, 20-Keegan Daniel, 21-Charl McLeod, 22-Gio Aplon.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 SolomonsResults – South Africa v Barbarians
1952 Barbarians 3, South Africa 17 – Cardiff
1961 Barbarians 6, South Africa 0 – Cardiff
1970 Barbarians 12, South Africa 21 – Twickenham
1994 Barbarians 23, South Africa 15 – Dublin
2000 Barbarians 31, South Africa 41 – Cardiff
2007 Barbarians 22, South Africa 5 – Twickenham