England in SA

Mallett hits out at key Boks

2012-05-31 15:49
Nick Mallett (File)
Cape Town - Andries Bekker has a long way to go before he can be talked about in the same breath as South Africa’s greatest lineout specialist, Victor Matfield.

According to the SuperSport website, this is the view of former Springbok and Italian coach Nick Mallett, ahead of the Test series against England.

While Bekker has been touted as the heir apparent for Matfield’s position in the national team, he and other top Boks came under sharp criticism from Mallett, who is regarded as one of the top coaches in world rugby.

Talking about the team he believed current Bok coach Heyneke Meyer would select for the England series, Mallett said he believed Bekker had a lot of work to do to be a top international forward.

“Bekker is nowhere near as good as Matfield in the lineouts. Bekker needs to listen to Matfield - then he will become better,” Mallett explained.

“Because he is big, he thinks he can win every ball whereas Matfield thinks about the lineouts. Matfield will not throw one ball to himself if there is a danger of losing it or if there is a blocker there. He will call a ball everywhere else except for himself if it means his team winning the game.

“Bekker, however, will call on himself and if he loses one, he will call another one because he is upset he lost one. Then if it happens again he will blame the hooker for not throwing into the lineout high enough.

“Teams can only put two blocks and you as the lineout reader need to see where they are and that’s where Matfield was absolutely unbelievable.”

Matfield has since retired from rugby and is expected to help the Bok lineout out as a consultant, while Bekker was forced to withdraw himself from consideration for the England series with a lower back strain on Wednesday.

Mallett also had criticism for captaincy candidates Pierre Spies, Jean de Villiers and Bismarck du Plessis, pointing out factors in their games that worried him ahead of the England tests.

“At outside centre Jean is a really poor defender,” Mallett said about the Stormers captain, “So he is going to have to sharpen up because (Manu) Tuilagi is going to run rings around him. Tuilagi is very physical, big and strong.

“That’s the problem at outside centre, but then again we never pass the ball in SA rugby so it might not be necessary to select a centre,” Mallett joked. “If he can’t chase up and unders and tackle, then what is he doing there…?”

The former Bok mentor also called Spies, the Bulls captain, “a flat-track bully” who had never impressed him.

“Loose forwards are a big issue. I don't rate Spies as a defender, he is poor on defence and his close ball skills at the back of the scrum are also poor,” Mallett said. “He is only good against weak teams. A flat-track bully who will run in three tries. We are missing out on someone who is good from the base of the scrum.

“I know Heyneke likes Willem Alberts, but it is also worrying that he is in the top five in Super Rugby in terms of missed tackles. He’s missed 24 tackles in six games, and that’s bloody high. Marcel Coetzee is the guy I would pick, he is in the top five in terms of tackle stats and in ball carries.”

Mallett also called for an increase in discipline for the two Bok front row brothers Bismarck and Jannie du Plessis.

“We have to be very careful with the Du Plessis brothers - they are a five penalty package for opposition teams. Bismarck does turn over ball, but he gives two to three penalties away at the breakdown. Jannie gets pinned at scrum time and there’s always something, a stiff arm or going over the top. In terms of discipline they need to be spoken to but the Sharks front row, when they are on song, are formidable.”

Read more on:    england in sa  |  nick mallett  |  rugby
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