Bok glass half full

2013-06-26 13:27
Sport24 columnist Alan Solomons (File)
Of the 240 minutes of rugby the Springboks played this series, the first 40 minutes against Samoa this past weekend were certainly their most impressive.

While the Springboks cruised to a 33-point win, I believe that the Bok game displayed its finest balance in the first half. Heyneke Meyer’s men showed a level of maturity and tactical awareness, which caught the visitors off-guard. While the Springboks stuck to their structures, they maintained an ambition on attack.

The Bok management team spoke of developing their attacking efficiency this series and scoring 16 tries in three matches is certainly a step in the right direction. Particularly against Samoa in the first stanza, the Boks played with real offensive flair. Willie le Roux the chief creator, offered real enterprise from the back.

Le Roux has certainly impressed in the embryonic stages of his Test career, however, with all due respect to the Boks’ most recent foes he and his team-mates will face far sterner assignments. While undoubtedly a talented footballer, big questions will be answered when he plays in what I refer to as ‘top-flight’ Tests.

While Le Roux possesses X-factor on offence, he will have to showcase increased defensive solidity in order to further develop on the international stage.

If for example, we compare a player like Zane Kirchner with the Cheetahs’ star, while the former does not offer as much impetus on attack; he is an extremely sound fullback and is solid under the high ball. If Le Roux is able to add that safety and security to his game, he will then prove a long-term Bok prospect.

The Bok back three dovetailed well this series and deserve an opportunity to continue to develop as a combination.

While we all know the proven talents of Bryan Habana - who became only the sixth player to score 50 Test tries - the emergence of Bjorn Basson on the opposite wing was an equally pleasing outcome. A little mentioned fact was just how effective the Bulls player proved at chasing the kick-offs.

While it’s only natural that the backline will earn the plaudits for an eight-try effort, the impact of loose forward Francois Louw on his return should not be understated.

I believe that the 28-year-old, who turned in an absolutely outstanding display against Samoa, offers the Bok loose trio its best balance. The man, who plies his trade in Bath, is now a highly experienced openside flank and performs the subtleties of that role to perfection.

Of the young guns, the triumvirate of Arno Botha, Jan Serfontein and JJ Engelbrecht enhanced their credentials. I am of the view that the latter two players will develop into a superb Springbok centre pairing.

Super Rugby returns this weekend and we travel to Pretoria to meet an impressive Bulls side. While the majority of the Bulls’ players partook in the recently concluded Test series, I have no doubt that they will slot back into Super Rugby mode seamlessly.

From a Southern Kings’ perspective, I feel the international break did my players a world of good and as always our aim is to prove competitive. That said, we are appreciative of the challenge that lies ahead of us this Saturday.

In my view, the Bulls are the number one team in the tournament and if they finish in top spot on the combined table, I believe that they have every prospect of claiming the Super Rugby crown.

Meanwhile, I’m predicting home victories for both the Sharks and Stormers, whom are playing for pride.

Alan Solomons was assistant coach to Nick Mallett when the Springboks went 17 Tests unbeaten. He is currently EP Kings’ Director of Rugby and is a consultant to the IRB.

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