Teich: Tough pool may aid Boks
RWC Mediawatch with Rob Houwing
Cape Town - The Springboks may benefit later from being placed in one of the most competitive pools at the World Cup, according to popular former national captain Gary Teichmann.
In their preview of the seven likeliest sides to win RWC 2011, The Guardian newspaper (UK) chose Teichmann, the Boks’ first Tri-Nations winning skipper in 1998, to assess his own country’s chances.
And the former Sharks No 8 said there were “a couple of factors” in South Africa’s favour.
“First, they’re going in as underdogs. Second, they’re in a tough pool so they’ll have to consistently play their best team - that can either hurt by causing too many injuries, or make them a hardened team used to pressure when the knockout games come.
“They will play in a way that works for them; they’re not going to play open or expansive rugby, so that shouldn’t tire them out too much.
“They’ll certainly be in the semi-finals - from there it’s hit and miss.”
*Another English broadsheet newspaper giant, the Daily Telegraph, in its dedicated online RWC section, is in the process of assembling a World Cup dream-team since the tournament’s inception in 1987.
Selected by writers Mick Cleary and Brendan Gallagher and loud-mouthed former England hooker Brian Moore, the exercise is being done day by day and position by position – Springboks in the incomplete XV so far are Ruben Kruger at flank and Joost van der Westhuizen at scrumhalf.
Loosehead prop has also been finalised already and, with the opinionated, glaringly Anglo-biased Moore using strong powers of persuasion to suppress Gallagher’s stated approval for Os du Randt, his former England front-rank pal Jason Leonard rather dubiously eclipses the great South African to the No 1 jersey.
Both had World Cup careers that spanned 12 years, of course, and appeared in two finals each, but Leonard got one winner’s medal to Du Randt’s two – and even then the Englishman’s came as an extra-time substitute to Trevor Woodman in the 2003 showpiece against Australia.
Du Randt started both his winning finals, was as renowned a scrummager as Leonard and also trounced him from an athletic point of view.
No rethink, Brian? Ah, thought not ...
*Also in The Telegraph, guest columnist Brendan Venter, the Springbok centre and former Saracens supremo, warns that All Blacks coach Graham Henry may be hoodwinking the rest of the world that “expansive rugby” is the way to go.
“This is a con from a shrewd operator,” suggests Venter. “His chief playmaker is Dan Carter, who is at his best when playing the percentages for the Crusaders.
“(And) all of the big World Cup games are being played at night. In New Zealand that means dew – lots of it.
“The wet will make multi-phase rugby tricky because the ball gets greasy and errors will abound.”
Venter also sang the praises of what he called “warrior players”: important ones at RWC 2011, he said, would be Lewis Moody of England, South Africa’s Schalk Burger and New Zealand’s Brad Thorn.