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Boks/ABs: Their potency rated

2015-10-23 14:24
Bryan Habana (Gallo)

Cape Town – New Zealand comfortably boss the international rankings, are defending World Cup champions and boast the very cream of the planet’s backline attacking talent.

Little wonder, then, that many South Africans would quietly -- or even not so quietly -- concede that they are the obvious favourites to win Saturday’s RWC semi-final against their old rivals at Twickenham.




But just how much better-equipped are the All Blacks on paper, at least as far as the starting XVs are concerned, for the epic clash?

Using a combination of criteria like reputation, experience, form at the current tournament and just how influential team game-plans allow each man to be, I have put together predicted, comparative ratings of usefulness in every berth for the semi.

Yes, the All Blacks boss the impromptu exercise ... but not by a whole heap.


Willie le Roux

Enters the semi off-colour after battling defensively against Wales; All Blacks will have made interested notes. But could still produce moment or two of outrageous artistry on attack.

Influence rating: 6.5

JP Pietersen

Revitalised performer at this RWC, even if not quite yet at lethal personal levels of 2007. Physically geared for keeping in check a certain Julian Savea ...

Influence rating: 7

Jesse Kriel:

Ball seldom travels beyond No 12 in current Bok strategy, so offensive threat limited on that basis. Big test of defensive alertness and resolve looms.

Influence rating: 6.5

Damian de Allende

Getting progressively more adhesive and organised on defence in maiden RWC, and strength on feet an asset with ball in hand.

Influence rating: 7.5

Bryan Habana

Like Pietersen, this RWC 2007 winner is enjoying new lease on life ... and then some. Consistently alert and highly committed; hungry for that one try to eclipse Lomu landmark.

Influence rating: 8

Handre Pollard

Might have scored higher, but influence blunted by conservative Bok style right now. Not always first receiver, and great passing skills negated as result. Acid test of place-kicking mettle on Saturday, perhaps.

Influence rating: 6.5

Fourie du Preez

Getting on a bit, and so nearly didn’t make this RWC. But game-management factor and awareness of situations remains enormous. Class? For sure, it’s permanent!

Influence rating: 7.5

Duane Vermeulen

On present form, it’s my belief he shades great rival Kieran Read, and that’s some statement of his quality. Should revel if this one turns into a slow-yards arm-wrestle.

Influence rating: 8

Schalk Burger

School of thought has it he gets in the way a tad too much. Others would counter that such is his massive work-rate that the odd poor choice in option-taking will occur. Key, seasoned motorbeat of Bok side.

Influence rating: 7.5

Francois Louw

Routinely industrious rather than really awe-inspiring over last few weeks. Good to see him carrying a bit more at times in QF win.

Influence rating: 7

Lood de Jager

Touch-and-go state of fitness slightly lowers his rating here. Teams are learning to police the blossoming, tall-timber marauder more closely ... but that also frees up some promising space nearby, doesn’t it? 

Influence rating: 7

Eben Etzebeth

Mammoth physical presence throughout his first World Cup (Japan was good game to only get 12 late minutes in!). Arguably eclipsing great rival Brodie Retallick by whisker so far, though now they lock horns.

Influence rating: 8

Frans Malherbe

Still only his fifth start for SA, remember ... and this is undoubtedly biggest yet. But faces an even more rookie NZ foe at scrum-time: can he cash in? Seldom shirks tackle chore.

Influence rating: 6.5

Bismarck du Plessis

Remains short of vintage, belligerent best, and has had his angst with French referees. But known hard man in Bok pack, with knack of effecting huge, stand-up steals off rival carriers.

Influence rating: 7

Tendai Mtawarira

Hot and cold at RWC 2015, so it’s to be hoped there’s a bee in his bonnet on this occasion. If so, Boks could be rumbling forward in scrums and mauls.

Influence rating: 6.5

BOK TOTAL: 107/150


Ben Smith

Boks would dearly like to make his day more demanding by obliging him to field high bombs and scramble back for tackling or exit-kick purposes. But will prosper if favourites dictate play and gradually make it a total-rugby spectacle.

Influence rating: 7.5

Nehe Milner-Skudder

Inexperienced Test player, which Boks will be well aware of, but if anyone could slip through a tub of the hardiest glue ...

Influence rating: 7.5

Conrad Smith

Brings a bag of directional genius to the No 13 spot. Ageing process hasn’t dimmed willingness to wriggle through gaps when they’re there, either.

Influence rating: 8

Ma’a Nonu

Plays his 102nd Test on Saturday, so highly unlikely to “freeze”. Muscular and explosive at inside centre, though tackle technique and discipline can sometimes let him down.

Influence rating: 7.5

Julian Savea

If any one player is going to tilt the fate of this game, it would be difficult to overlook this left-wing stick of dynamite, who runs through and around people with equal ease. Eight tries in last three RWC games; bang in form. 

Influence rating: 8.5

Dan Carter

The king of flyhalves. Swansong World Cup (he’s well into his 34th year), and this marvellously complete, cool player will fiercely target a fitting end to Test career.

Influence rating: 8

Aaron Smith

Different scrumhalf beast to Du Preez, but that still leaves him at least level-pegging with the established legend of the berth. If his rival has more of a “brain” game, he may be superior for breaking and sniping.

Influence rating: 7.5

Kieran Read

Always has enthralling duels with Vermeulen; could earn edge with mobility and linking skills if champions manage to dominate possession and open up play. But that’s only if ...

Influence rating: 7.5

Richie McCaw

One of the most iconic fetchers in history, and man who thrives on premier occasions. But in recent times has been pinged more and more by refs, plus shown slightly cynical side to his spoiling and slowing at rucks.

Influence rating: 7.5

Jerome Kaino

Veteran blind-sider who will be in dangerous element if ABs are going forward frequently. Can be less effective if it’s the other way around ...

Influence rating: 6.5

Sam Whitelock

Rangy lineout manager and willing ball-carrier, who may have to deal with both De Jager and Victor Matfield at different stages in this game. It won’t perturb the bearded one too much.

Influence rating: 7

Brodie Retallick

One of main meanies of All Black pack. So similar to Etzebeth in that regard, with similar athletic abilities into bargain. Slightly short of best in some tourney appearances.

Influence rating: 7.5

Owen Franks

Can’t be written off for destructive qualities with that right shoulder, but it’s my view Franks was better two or three years ago. (Those words could haunt ... etc!)

Influence rating: 6.5

Dane Coles

Some scribes reckon he’s world’s premier hooker at present, and they may not be too wrong. Does all core duties with polish, and developing productive try-scoring touch.

Influence rating: 7.5

Joe Moody

Todd Blackadder raved about his credentials several years ago. But at 27, fairly slow progress thus far at Test level. Does have capacity to surprise on Saturday.

Influence rating: 6

ALL BLACK TOTAL: 110.5/150

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

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