Morné Steyn the Boks' saviour?

2011-08-23 11:21

Gary Boshoff

A combination of good fortune, Bismarck and Morne; yes, that’s what got the Springboks the win on Saturday! Oh, I forgot about Jaque Fourie: he who saved three clear tries in the first half, two of which was a result of calculated rushes when he sensed a try was on for the All Blacks.

The Springboks got away with some critical lapses in their defensive systems during that first quarter of the match. It was just way too easy to break through our defensive line. It is still the most worrying aspect as we head to New Zealand.

The Test proved very informative for the All Blacks’ coaches. The youthful Israel Dagg has thrown down the gauntlet to Graham Henry, presenting a serious challenge to Mills Muliaina for the first-choice fullback position.

Sonny Bill Williams once again lived up to the hype by displaying his strong running and deceptive passing skills - which has become his trademark. Williams pulled the tacklers towards him and put Richard Kahui and Dagg into space at will. At times the All Blacks’ midfield made the experienced Springbok midfield look second rate. Not once was the All Black defensive line broken in the midfield and this from a centre pairing playing together for the very first time in a Test.

For the Springboks (and the supporters especially) the win over the All Blacks came like manna from heaven; we needed it badly. 

However, while celebrating the win we must remain honest and realistic about the performance as a whole. While the Springboks showed a lot of grit and determination in defence in the second half, there remain some serious issues to tackle.

The scrum was pretty impressive with Bismarck du Plessis's impact clearly giving the Springboks that extra edge. His physical presence as hooker is unequalled at scrum time, when he carries the ball or when he defends. The Springboks should not play without him if they don’t have to - they need him on the field all the time. 

However, despite the good scrum on Saturday we must acknowledge that the two All Black front-rowers, John Afoa and Tony Woodcock haven't played rugby for four weeks and were not at their very best - so we shouldn’t read too much into Gurthro Steenkamp and Beast's strong showing. 

Heinrich Brussow showed he is fast on his way back to his very best. He is going to be critical in combating Richie McCaw and David Pocock when we play the All Blacks or Australia at the World Cup.

Just how best to use Brussow and Schalk Burger poses a similar type of conundrum to the John Smit/Bismarck du Plessis dilemma. Maybe the solution lies in playing Burger from the bench with Brussow starting with Willem Alberts. When Bakkies goes off in the second half, Alberts moves to lock and Burger can come on to wreck havoc in that last 20 minutes of the match. An approach which in my view will help the Springboks to stay competitive at the rucks and tackles throughout.

The few minutes Patrick Lambie played he once again demonstrated his maturity to play at this level and play well. He’s got the right skill-set and attitude to make a massive difference to the Springboks’ World Cup campaign. I would rather play him than Frans Steyn. In fact, I am of the view that Lambie and Gio Aplon should be the fullbacks for the tournament, but all indications are that De Villiers will go for Steyn with Aplon on standby in case of injury.

I deduce from the coach’s comments in the newspapers that Morne Steyn has now been re-proclaimed as the “special one” for the World Cup. It is certainly a massive burden on the Bulls’ pivot’s shoulders, for if De Villiers opts for the more conservative approach at the RWC, tries, as in the last few Tests, will be a scarcity. 

The Springboks and South Africa it seems to me will be relying heavily on Morne Steyn to win the RWC. If Saturday is used as a yardstick of his abilities, it certainly isn’t too bad an option. But will it be enough?
A fascinating Tri-Nations "final" awaits on Saturday. Will Henry recall his first-choice players to win the Tri-Nations? Off course, if he selects them and the Australians get it right on the day, then the confidence boot will definitely be on Wallaby feet come RWC time.

As for the Springboks, it’s knuckle down time until that all important opener against Wales. I can't wait any longer!

Gary Boshoff is a former SARU player and current Afrikaans rugby commentator on SuperSport.

Disclaimer: Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.


  • Anneleen - 2011-08-23 11:31

    ...just wanted to say absolutely well done to the Bokke for Saturday...hope all the injured players are recovering well...looking forward to the announcement of the RWC squad later tonight. ...go Bokke!!!!! la Rey - 2011-08-23 14:05

      ...just wanted to say what a lovely comment!!!!!

      Anneleen - 2011-08-23 14:29

      @Gn. de la Rey...just wanted to say...hoe gaan dit vandag, Generaal?

      chappy - 2011-08-23 17:40

      Ja hopefully we can take some of that momentum into the tournament - would have liked 1 more warm up game through..... maybe they can arrange a game against one of the local club sides over there. Another thing, quoting Boshoff above "Sonny Bill Williams once again lived up to the hype".... did he really???? I must have been watching a different game.... I have a growing suspicion that Boshoff is one of the closet AB supporters....

  • Kaapie - 2011-08-23 11:35

    The bokke may have had the upperhand at scrumtime, but how Henry omitted Crockett I think is a beeeg mistake. Kudo's to brossouw and Bissie. They showed the intensity and the fire in the belly!

      Rob van den Heuvel - 2011-08-23 11:58

      Looks like Henry's mistake has been repeated - Crockett has been left out of the ABs WC squad. Agree - Brussow was awesome!

      Maori - 2011-08-23 12:44

      Let's wait and see! The All Black scrum will be a different monster at the world cup. Crockett's technique at scrum time is suspect and conceded a number of penalties this year - will be costly in a world cup. The Franks brothers will provide the solid scrum with bad Brad Thorne behind them. Think Brussow looked fine because the AB's did not play a fetcher on Saturday - he will be exposed come world cup time on the wet underfoot. With Morne at 10, the boks will have a good goal kicker, but no attacking options. Outside of the republic, Morne is ordinary. He played well on front foot ball behind a bok pack that bullied the AB's on Saturday - the question is whether he can do the same when the bok pack is under pressure and the loosies are all over him. I remember him fading in those games. If defense wins world cups, then I remain cautiously optimistic that the AB's stand a chance as they broke defense lines with ease, like on Saturday. A balance between attack and defense will be key. Remember the AB solid defense against the Aussies on Eden Park with some attacking flair against the bokkies in PE - just need to work on the finiashing. With Guilford there, I have hope. Slade is not a bad 10 - he will learn from Saturday's pressure cooker and will probably fare better behind a solid pack. Watched the game last night again- wow, I think the bokkies have problems and Saturday's win is like a plaster over the big cracks! Let's wait and see!!

      nz warrior - 2011-08-23 12:44

      the reason behind this is because wyattt concedes to many penalties, penalties which will then be converted into points, the only way springboks can win games at the moment, smart move on Henry's behalf =DD

      Maori - 2011-08-23 12:57

      @NZ Warrior - agree, that must be Ted's rationale.

      Mr D - 2011-08-23 17:45

      Ja jong en sien die twee gat lek hondjies Maori en nz warrior is al weer aan die lek-lek

  • Raka13 - 2011-08-23 11:36

    Play Burger and Brussow, with Sirmeulen or Alberts at 8. The boks can't have 2 forwards out of 8 that is not the best in their positions.(Smit and Spies). In all honesty, Danie Rossouw will be better choice at 8 than Spies. Also, they can leave Pienaar and take Aplon with. I am all to glad that Meisiekind, Basson and Kirchner is out of the contest (hopefully).

      GraemeBB - 2011-08-23 11:55

      @Raka - Spies will be there, and rightfully so.

      Marx - 2011-08-23 12:00

      Raka, here on planet earth, Sirmeulen is injured. Danie is definitely not a better option at 8 than Spies, dream on.

      JuanT - 2011-08-23 13:32

      having bulls issues again?

      Chief Kok - 2011-08-23 14:19

      Kan Skalk Burger maar nie sandkastele op Clifton bou nie? Ek sal hom by die huis los.

      epherb - 2011-08-23 14:24

      We are talking about our national team not Province, But then again you dont know any better!

  • Marx - 2011-08-23 11:36

    Have to agree, Lambie and Aplon for the WC. Steyn doesn't look like he's in shape(weight wise).

      Bulldozer - 2011-08-23 12:34

      I think Steyn's hair looks awesome though.

      GraemeBB - 2011-08-23 14:14

      @Bulldozer - LOL

  • Durbsguy - 2011-08-23 11:38

    Surely we must look past 1D Steyn

      GILLBERT - 2011-08-23 11:43

      funny how both the times the boks won the RWC it was with kicks and no tries.

      Durbsguy - 2011-08-23 11:55

      Agreed but at least tries were took us to the final

      GraemeBB - 2011-08-23 11:58

      @Durbsguy - who were the tries against? Morne can run the line, and I want him to be more selective with his kicking game - the he may actualy be the best for the job. But, no one can argue, he is a game winner - and this weekend when Divy was desperate to win, who did he call?

      Johan - 2011-08-23 12:27

      Funny how in both previous world cups our flyhalves could tackle !!!

      Mad Hatter - 2011-08-23 13:16

      He plays well when he is behind a pack on the front foot , great infact . He is shown up though when the pack is up against it .

      JuanT - 2011-08-23 13:35

      @Johan: how many tackles did Morne miss on saturday? and if any, how many points came from the mistake?

      Johan - 2011-08-23 15:05

      @JuanT LMFAO :D you really are a funny guy !!!

      JC - 2011-08-23 16:07

      @Johan - I hate it when people comment when they have NO idea what they are talking about. One journalist says that Morne can't tackle and then all the sheep write it in their bibles. Morne made 14 tackles, the 3rd most for the Boks (Matfield - 16, Brussow - 15) and missed one. The Boks missed 29 tackles in total. So missing 1 out of the 29 missed tackles, while making 14 tackles makes you a bad defender? Btw, Butch James made 10 tackles and missed 5 tackles against Australia...

      GraemeBB - 2011-08-23 16:16

      @JC - yup, this has been going on all year. People rave about players, and their stats tell a different story. Hammer other players, and their stats tell a different story. And if the media say these players are good or bad, then the sheep follow.

      GILLBERT - 2011-08-23 16:19

      there is no such thing as a fly half that plays well with forwards going back words... would love to know where people get that notion from... how good was cooper 2 weekends back against the kiwis how good was dan carter last year year and the year before when they played the bulls in the s14 semis

      Durbsguy - 2011-08-23 16:33

      The tries. Samoa 8 England 3 Tonga 4 Fiji 5 Argentina 4 giving a total of 20 in 6 games

      DeonL - 2011-08-23 16:35

      Graeme, we scored a few tries against England in our group, 36 - 0. Habana scored a few in 2007 WC.

      GraemeBB - 2011-08-23 17:08

      Yes, indeed we did score tries against England. FDP was brilliant, and was the catalyst. We also showed them up on the EOYT, at home last year. The other teams we expect to score tries against, and will do so again this year - Samoa, Tonga, Fiji and Argentina. @Durbsguy and DeonL - all I am saying is that we shouldnt get carried away here. The tries will come, and then the kind of rugby that we play in the semis and final (I believe) will be alot tighter, making tries harder to come by. Classic example is the way we played England in the group stages in 2007, and how we beat them in the final. Two different approaches, same team.

      Durbsguy - 2011-08-23 18:31

      Graeme I hope your right it's less than 2 weeks before I'm off to support them

  • Avi27 - 2011-08-23 11:45

    BISMARK is the man 1 thing is clear, our trump cards are: 1. BISMARK-BEST Hooker 2. Pit Bull BRUSSOW-Best No 6 3. Morne Steyn-Best accurate kicking flyhalf -We still have a long way to go but we have a very good chance. At the momment we only stuck in 3rd gear. -We need Bismark to play all the big games and the coach needs to protect Brussow esp against Somoa. We can't afford to lose him as he is the key if we going to win. -Alberts also needs to start as he and Bakkies are lethal. Lets not forget Beast and Bismark. These guys are going to give us forward ball and I feel sorry for the opposition that going to get hit and bashed by our boys. -It not a bad idea to play Schalk on the bench as his experience and impact will be felt in the 2nd half. I think if we play Alberts in the bench we going to lose some ground an mommentum forward. -Pat Lambie is a very important guy, if we can somehow get him to start he and Morne can be dynamite-Morne to do the kicking (penalties/drop) and Lambie to play 10 when we attack. -Frans is also important, he might be a bit over weight but he needs some time. He been playin in Europe were the conditions are going to be similar to NZ (wet and cold). Special people don't lose talent over night. Rem he can drop kick over 60+m and can play centre. We have a very good chance of retaining the WC, our boys are at the momment stuck in 3rd gear. We still have a long way to go and a lot to sort out but im sure our boys wont let us down. GO BOKKE!!!

      GraemeBB - 2011-08-23 12:06

      @Avi27 - Morne can run the ball, and should stop kicking away possesion. When he kicks, it must be with a plan. Lambie can slot in at 15, and he can attack well from there too. I am happy with the team, BUT, I would have DeJong on the bench. JDV just doesnt break like I am used to seeing from him. So, if DeJong can come on 30min if JDV is not finding gaps, that could also be important. Hougie also brings fire to the game, and FDP looks lost. Perhaps the young man needs to come on for FDP with enough time to make an impact, if not start some games. We all can guess, but it is interesting to see what happens - and what Pienaar is going with for????

      Marx - 2011-08-23 12:26

      Graeme, one thing that I'll never understand is the kicking game-plan, cause on sat. I was speechless when Mornè kicked the first couple of balls straight into the AB's hands and we luckily got away with it. Pure suicide. We need to force line-outs against a team like the AB's and limit kicking to get field position in the opponents half of the field. Where you force your opponents to play on the field will have the ultimate impact on the result, specially against the AB's and Aussies and Steyn needs to get that part of his tactical kicking spot on asap.

      GraemeBB - 2011-08-23 14:30

      @Marx - agreed. I get cold when I see a kick with no meaning, no one to chase and challenge, and no one to stop a counter attack. What frustrated me a bit was that the no15 was also doing that. No one tried to run the ball back, and there was no support to iether pass or win the ball back if the man got tackled. And even when men was availible to support, we just kicked. Slade used little chips to good use. I want Steyn to see those opportunities too. We werent breaking the line, so try something else. Steyn needs to find touch, especially from in his own 22. The whole idea of a good kicking no10 is to dominate territory. Steyn must start producing a better thinking game. I dont want to sound like a a..hole, but I dont think his game is where it could be. He would be bloody brilliant if he can just be a bit smarter.

      FJ2 - 2011-08-23 15:32

      @Marx: agreed - Steyns tactical kicking against the AB's was mostly bad.

      JC - 2011-08-23 16:25

      @Avi27 - Good comment. I agree with you on everything. It's a shame that a player like Schalk should have to play from the bench, maybe there are other alternatives. We have a few players that are critical in certain positions without much back-up. If we can survive the physcial games against Fiji and Somoa without losing players to injury (i.e. not losing momentum within the team) we will have built up a good amount of steam for the knockout rounds. But like Avi said, we need to protect our players for the knockouts. Also, like some of you have said, Steyn can be a bit more accurate with his kicking. Tactical kicking is a good weapon, especially with the forward pack that we have, but the kicking has to be accurate. Steyn gained almost a kilometer of ground with his tactical kicking against the AB's at PE which is a great stat, but sometimes, especially against a back three like what the AB's have, it can be very dangerous. He must make sure that he kicks it out and that he kicks it into the stands, since the AB's LOVE to throw the ball back in quickly.

  • Blizzbok - 2011-08-23 12:08

    Play Bismarck to start with Smit on bench against Wales then swop them for the games against Fiji and Namibia. Same with Brussow and Burger. After the pool matches re-assess form and injury availability. Think Deysel unlucky not to tour, if not picked. Otherwise the squad that is likely to be announced today CAN bring it home!!!

  • Rick - 2011-08-23 12:08

    Now this is an article worth reading. A golden rule of all the previous world cups has been: "defense wins you the world cup", and frankly, our defense is not good enough on first phase. So the Springboks should concentrate on that, and only that, for the next 2 weeks. If we can ensure that our defense is rock solid, then Heinrich Brüssow will make some steals and Morne Steyn will get us the field position and the points. Job done. Might not be pretty nor entertaining...but if you want entertainment, then go watch sevens rugby.

      JC - 2011-08-23 16:45

      Spot on ! Our first time tackling is not what it should be. We missed WAY too many tackles and we saw how NZ ran us apart. The try that was disallowed, because of the forward pass, could easily have been another try (I do agree it wasn't a try and that the refs did a great job, screw Paddy). Luckily, our scatter defence was very good. Scatter defence won't always save you. But, another thing I picked up is the way they broke our line without us actually missing tackles. This is primarly because of the off-loads. We need our players to mark their opposing numbers better, so that even if the player succeeds with the off-load, the receiving player gets tackled anyway. Also, I've realised this is something that Australia (the AB's too) do very well, they tackle the ball, rather than the player, thus preventing him from off-loading.

  • fromthecouch - 2011-08-23 12:26

    It seems De Villiers will stake all on a one-trick approach, the Boks have the ability to execute the 10 man gameplan better than almost any team in the world. Yes, it would be great to see some excitement and a couple of tries would not go wanting! Saturday showed the best we have to offer and though it is no cause for panic, one can't help feel the opposition will be ready and waiting!!

  • GHT - 2011-08-23 12:46

    Are you drunk?? Schalk has not been a Brussouw type fetcher for a very very long time. They will both start as they complement each other rather nicely. Do you not remember Tri nations 2009? And moving Alberts to lock? Sometimes Mr Gary Boshoff. You really do lose the plot quite badly.

  • StaalBurgher - 2011-08-23 13:07

    Schalk off the bench is a good idea. If you will be moving Alberts to lock half way through does that not mean Danie is surplus to requirements?

  • Dragonpig - 2011-08-23 13:35

    Brussouw won that game, not Steyn. Brussouw gave Steyn all those penalties to kick, which he did really well. I really dont think Steyn is a match winner as much as he is a converter of points. he needs Brussouw to earn penalties for him to kick. With Brussouw in the team they're a match winning combo, but you can't give Steyn all the credit for those points. Give him credit for converting all our points though but match winner is a bit ambitious

      jay - 2011-08-23 13:51

      absolutely right, dragonpig. Still, this game is about the team and then about individual brilliance. I enjoyed seeing the determination and unity in the team. With this attitude they could go all the way. And, by the way, evervone talks about the semi-final. WE ARE NOT THERE YET!!!

      mycentswrth - 2011-08-23 18:43

      peter grant will be a better option as he kicks just as well as ms, and he is an attacking flyhalf and not afraid to tackle. i'm baffled why he is not considered.....? yes, brussouw is awesome!

  • la Rey - 2011-08-23 13:53

    Good article. I think if Lambie was on for longer it would have helped a lot. He could have slotted in at FH every now and then and creat go forward ball. Our defence is still a bit shaky but it was mostly one on one tackles that was missed. SBW only had one great pass, I still believe one should just tackle his support runners and then he won't be able to offload!

  • Pierre - 2011-08-23 13:55

    Gary Blah Blah Blah Bosshoff at it again. What did Mof Myburgh say "I looks at the scoreboard and I smiles". Defense will win this World Cup and the Boks, although leaky scrambled incredibly well, they will get better. The AB better pray nothing happens to either McCaw or DC, look at their squd, there is NO back to them. SBW? Most his passes were forward and no, he did not break the advantage line often. I must have watched a different game.

  • Gouetor - 2011-08-23 14:17

    I would play Brussow, Burger and Spies as my loose trio, with Alberts coming on as impact player. Danie Rossouw as replacement lock.

  • transkeidave - 2011-08-23 14:44

    flipping hell--lets get on with this RWC --i am exhausted just chatting about ti--cannot wait--we need to now just support the team--no turning back/no more excuses/no more learning curves--time will tell if we are good enough--the game against wales will be a cracker--go bokke.

  • SolomonMagalefa - 2011-08-23 15:29

    Good article Gary but please leave commentary for Supersport for the professionals - you had a shocker on Saturday.

  • hls - 2011-08-23 21:02

    Morne will cost us the WC mark my words. He will again kick the ball away without thinking and tries will be scored against us from his mistakes. Go and watch the bulls game last year agaist the Blues to see how poor tactical kicking resulted in a massive loss for the bulls.

      BardofAvon - 2011-08-23 22:39

      @hls: Are you aware that zero tries were scored in the 2 World Cup Finals that SA won. A deadly goalkicker is a gift to be treasured. The Boks are playing Bulls ("suffocate and punish") rugby.

  • Lewis - 2011-08-24 05:34

    I sincerely hope all the Bulls in this team play better when they're wearing the regime's jersey, as when they wear the Bulls jersey. Cos in the first game of Superugby this year they were appalling. Wonder if the RWC jersey has 666 on the sleeve?

  • Irish Devil - 2011-08-24 07:59

    This is the firts article I have read, which has been pretty honest about the win on Saturday. I am very glad that we won, but I thnk the supporters and most of the media are reading too much into the win. Morne Steyn can win a game when our pack dominates, but only then. He has never won a game with a lsing pack. When the pressure is on, he dissapears slightly. In my opininion our weakst link is Habana. Once again we have conceded a try on our left wing, and it could have been two but for a forward pass. Habana is still of the opinion that an intercept counts as good defence!! Sides have worked this out and will exploit this at the WC. I truly hope I am wrong, but I do not believe our "strongest" side available showed enough against an All Black "B" team to fill me with confidence going into the WC.

  • kwezi - 2011-08-24 09:47

    Schalk Burger on the bench and Willem Alberts at lock? Come on Gary, you can't be serious.

  • Jackool - 2011-08-24 09:49

    mmm, let me see...NOPE, I think it's just you Gary.

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