Cape Town - Sport24’s Herman Mostert highlights FIVE talking points following the Springboks’ 41-13 Rugby Championship defeat to the All Blacks in Christchurch:
1. Time up for Jantjies?
After another horror performance, Bok flyhalf Elton Jantjies will surely be dropped for the Test against Australia in Pretoria early next month.
As good as Jantjies is in a Lions jersey, he simply doesn’t seem capable of making the grade at Test level.
His tactical kicking was again below par and glaring errors - when he dropped the kick-off straight after the Boks had scored, as well as restarting the second half by kicking out on the full - were inexcusable against the world’s best.
Jantjies’ defence was lauded by several pundits on Saturday, yet they forget that those tackles were made with the Kiwis still getting over the advantage line. It was brave tackling, but not effective in a defensive structure already at sixes and sevens. Simply being brave doesn’t cut it at this level.
There’s no denying Jantjies’ talents, but those moments of magic need to outweigh the negatives and at Test level he is not doing that.
Jantjies has a history of underperforming under Allister Coetzee as coach and the under-fire Bok mentor will surely be forced into change.
2. The basics of scrumhalf play
As was the case last week, I’m again forced to single out Faf de Klerk’s performance at scrumhalf.
In last week’s column, I pleaded for coach Coetzee to help teach De Klerk some of the basics of scrumhalf play.
As our chief writer Rob Houwing noted in his post-match analysis, De Klerk had perhaps and “even more traumatic” outing than Jantjies.
As exciting a player as he is, his general game management and tactical kicking is not up to standard.
There was also one instance when he kicked the ball out on the full - and I noted someone say on Twitter - a kick so badly misjudged it went 15m out over the touchline!
But the most glaring of De Klerk’s errors was when reserve All Black scrumhalf TJ Perenara broke off a scrum to score late on the game.
What was alarming is that he did not score on the blindside, it was on the openside where De Klerk should have been standing.
Instead, he was standing in a flyhalf channel, leaving acres of space for Perenara to canter over. The coaching staff will argue that it was the flank’s (in this case Jaco Kriel) job, but not in my book.
I also played scrumhalf - albeit at a lower level - but it’s a basic of scrumhalf defence that you learn at Under-10 level.
Yet here at international level, neither the coach - who was a scrumhalf himself during his playing days - nor player can seemingly get it right.
3. What rivalry?
The pre-game talk was again all about rugby’s greatest rivalry. The Kiwis are always quick to note how much they respect the Springboks, a team with the best record against them.
But unfortunately for the Boks, that record now looks bleak, especially given the fact that it once was a winning record.
In 92 Tests, the All Blacks have won 54 compared to South Africa’s 35, with three games ending in draws.
It’s a 59% win-ratio, compared to 38%.
Since the Boks’ 3-0 clean-sweep in 2009, the All Blacks have won 12 of 14 encounters.
It’s sad, even more so if one realises that after Francois Pienaar’s charges won the 1995 Rugby World Cup final, the Springboks held a 21-18 win-loss record against the All Blacks.
Rugby turned professional and since then, the All Blacks have won 36 matches compared to a meagre 14 by South Africa.
Sadly, it has become a one-sided rivalry and looks set to become even more lopsided.
4. Defensive worries for Boks
The ease with which the All Blacks crossed the whitewash against the beleaguered Boks was a worrying sight. It was almost as though the Kiwis had a one-man advantage, yet with no Bok player sent to the sin-bin during the game.
There’s clearly a big issue with the team’s defensive structures.
Chean Roux, who served as technical advisor to the Boks for periods last year, has been thrown into the deep end as defence coach.
It was a big blow for SA Rugby to lose defence guru Jacques Nienaber, who has joined Rassie Erasmus at Munster.
Nienaber was the Stormers’ defence coach when Coetzee was in charge there, with the Cape side building a reputation as having the best defence in the competition.
Perhaps a phone call to Ireland needs to be made...
5. Don’t write off Bok skipper just yet
Bok captain Adriaan Strauss has copped heavy criticism for his performances this year.
So much so, that it prompted him to announce that he will retire international rugby at season’s end.
I don’t buy him saying he had already made that decision before the Test season started and that he had informed the coach.
Coetzee’s decision to make Strauss captain would then surely have been a daft one.
Anyhow, I’ve noted an improvement in Strauss’ play since he announced that he will retire.
Maybe a burden has been lifted, but he’s been much more prominent in general exchanges over the last fortnight.
Strauss’ value as a lineout thrower was further emphasised when he was replaced by Malcolm Marx early in the second half on Saturday.
Marx couldn’t buy a lineout and I counted as much as three that went astray. It robbed the Boks of any type of go-forward momentum.