Eales lauds Brussow, Bismarck
Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer
Cape Town – Amidst a fair amount of chest-beating in the Australian press after the Wallabies’ completion of a 2011 “double” over the Springboks, John Eales has provided some measure of consolation to the South African cause.
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But in touting the merits of Bismarck du Plessis, the back-up hooker to veteran captain John Smit, the legendary former Wallaby leader and rangy lock essentially aggravated the dilemma for Bok coach Peter de Villiers surrounding the No 2 jersey.
Writing in The Melbourne Age on Monday, Eales described recently returned open-side flank Heinrich Brussow as “the most important player in their team”.
Free Stater Brussow was a prominent figure in the encouraging Bok head of steam before they ran out of energy in the 14-9 Castle Tri-Nations defeat in Durban on Saturday.
Eales said: “(He may be) the smallest man in their pack ... (but) his play enables them to compete in a fast-paced, modern style of game, even if they don’t willingly play that way themselves.
“The next most important player for them, in their pack at least, is Du Plessis, and he showed as much in his 30-minute cameo.
“But for however long his path is blocked by the inspirational World Cup-winning captain (Smit), he won’t have the required impact from the bench.
“This is among De Villiers’ biggest conundrums.
“Smit, playing as hooker for the first 50 minutes, was as good as he has been in recent times, but when he moved to tighthead prop and Du Plessis took his place, two things became evident.
“One, Du Plessis’ work rate and effect on the match was so much greater, and two, the Bok scrum destructed.”
Eales also noted: “A lot the interest in this match centred on the new-look Springboks, although to call them ‘new-look’ is a bit like referring to reformed Cold Chisel as a boy band.
“But as 11 members of their starting XV are survivors from their 2007 World Cup victory – some of them quite old in rugby years – the critics’ chorus suggests they are putting too much emphasis on past success.
“In some instances it’s hard to argue otherwise.”