Bekker closing in on Matfield
Cape Town – Andries Bekker or Victor Matfield?
That is just one of the tough questions Springbok coach Peter de Villiers will probably have to confront in the coming months following the revival at the Stormers.
Bekker is coming off an exceptional two weeks with the Stormers in New Zealand and will again be a key player in Friday’s Super 14 match against the Reds in Brisbane.
Matt Proudfoot, a former team-mate of Matfield that now coaches Bekker at the Stormers, again waxed lyrical about the Stormers man on Monday.
“I don’t think we have seen the best of Andries yet,” Proudfoot said in an interview from Surfers Paradise on Australia’s Gold Coast.
“He is psychologically intimidating opponents and New Zealand will have sleepless nights about him in the Green and Gold. Andries is commanding the same kind of respect there now as Schalk Burger.
“Victor took lineout play to a different level, but Andries will take it to a new level in the coming years.”
De Villiers is the man who will have the dilemma of choosing between the two. He can, of course, also exploit the situation to South Africa’s advantage by rotating them in a year where the Boks are set to play 15 Tests.
Even if he decided to pick the experienced combination of Matfield and Bakkies Botha in big Tests this year, Bekker will still be an exceptional bench option.
“It’s not going to be an easy decision, but our job is to create those problems to the benefit of South African rugby,” said Proudfoot.
Bekker’s first priority is now to help the Stormers finish their tour on a high.
Proudfoot on Monday praised the senior players for the manner in which they have kept the focus on the Reds game.
“It’s not seen as the last tour game, but as one of four matches that we have left. The senior players are superb in that respect and ensure that the right information is passed down to the rest of the team,” said Proudfoot.
The Stormers are set to keep their starting line-up unchanged, though it will be interesting to see if they pick Fabian Juries on the bench.
“It’s a short week (with the Stormers playing on Friday) and we will stick to what works,” said Proudfoot.
Meanwhile, the Reds have contracted 33-year-old former Brumbies and Wallaby lock Radike Samo.
This follows the injury that veteran lock Van Humphries sustained against the Bulls last week. The Reds are also without the services of injured lock and captain James Horwill.
While the Reds’ forwards are unsung, they are a physical side and their success is down to much more than just a gifted halfback pairing of Will Genia and Quade Cooper.
They even managed to get the better of the Bulls at the scrums.
“The Reds beat the Bulls with their speed on the engagement. I’m satisfied with our speed on the engagement, but would like to see that we do more in the scrums after the engagement,” said Proudfoot.
“There is a lot of hype about the Reds here. That excites our players because they are keen to show what they can do."