Fit, fresh Boks eye Grand Slam

2010-10-07 12:24

JJ Harmse

So the Boks are fit and strong again? Does this mean that when they board the plane to take them to Dublin, Cardiff, Edinburgh and London, that they will actually be fresher than their opponents from Ireland, Wales, Scotland and England on their Grand Slam tour?

GALLERY: Springboks undergo physicals
Remember, our opponents will be three months into their respective seasons and would have played every weekend, not only in their own domestic league, but also the Magners League, the Heineken Cup and Amlin Cup, travelling all over Europe for those fixtures.
So the whole argument of us being tired and overplayed and them being fresh and at the start of their season will not count this time around.

Because, according to our national team coach and support staff, our boys are now fit and strong again, and in some instances, like with Bakkies Botha, Danie Rossouw and Bismarck du Plessis, stronger than before and with regards to Jaque Fourie and Bryan Habana, faster at the coast.
I chuckled when I read that last part. What does the following sentence mean?

“...while Bryan Habana and Jaque Fourie were the quickest we have ever tested at sea level and someone like Adi Jacobs tested really well in all aspects.”

Does this mean that Bryan and Jaque are the quickest guys ever tested at sea level or does it mean that they are the quickest since being tested at sea level ever?
If you remember, the Boks were tested in the past and most of those tests were done in Bloemfontein, where especially the sprint testing results will be better.

I would have taken more comfort in a stat that told me that, since Bryan and Jaque joined the Stormers at the end of last year, they have tested quicker than ever. Then one could have assumed that the conditioning programme actually worked and made then faster.
And if Jaque and Bryan tested quickest ever, what about the rest?

I remember when Jake White introduced fitness levels to the Bok squad early in his tenure, it was a well guarded secret at the time that captain John Smit did not pass on a couple of benchmarks set.

And who is the most talked about Springbok when it comes to fitness in the country?
Ricky Januarie of course.
Any mention on whether he became slimmer and/or faster and/or fitter?

Not a chance!

Can one suspect that telling us Bryan and Jaque are quicker and Bakkies and Bismarck are stronger, but not telling us anything about Ricky, that there is nothing good to tell about the scrumhalf?
Or am I too cynical about this?
Also, how about this: “The work the players have done with their conditioning coaches has been very encouraging and the average injury risk profile of the squad has dropped by 21%,” Rene Naylor, the Springbok physiotherapist, was quoted as saying.
What is an injury risk profile? I don’t know. And how can you determine the risk of not getting injured if no one was allowed to play for a month?
Too confusing for me. But then again, I have never recovered from my Statistical Methods 144 ordeal on Monday mornings at 08:00 during my student days at Stellenbosch!
There is another thing. Now that we know our boys are fit and strong again, does this mean that all is well for them to go and tour then?
There was an idea mooted from the Bok camp earlier in the year that a lot of the senior guys will be rested and that coach Peter de Villiers will use this tour to blood some possible Rugby World Cup contenders and have a look at some European-based players.
Not a bad idea at the time, but will it still stand with the encouraging news that the incumbents are ready to take up arms? Does this allow the Bok coach, who has just survived the toughest month of his rugby life, to redeem himself and play his best players?
Or does he have some leniency to continue with his original plan?
I would love nothing more to see the likes of Derick Hougaard, Schalk Brits and Ernst Joubert continuing the misery they are heaping upon the Poms in a Saracens shirt, only this time in Green and Gold, or to see Bjorn Basson, Lwazi Mvovo or Juan de Jongh finishing under some foreign posts.
And how good can someone like Flip van der Merwe be on the heavier fields of the UK? And will Coenie Oosthuizen be the next good thing or will this be too soon too early for the Cheetahs prop?
There are a lot of things that can be done, providing that the news and facts we were given on the Boks and their great conditioning are indeed spot-on. And if indeed, it proves to be good news for some, it should be the end of the road for others.

Read JJ every Sunday in Rapport.

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.


  • rugbyman - 2010-10-07 12:33

    Fifa has suspended the Nigerian football team as a result of government interference in the sport! When will the IRB have the same size b***s and suspend SA rugby until the government (and Absa) stop interfering? Include players on merit only. Invest money in rugby development at lower levels, so more players from all groups can come through and have equal merit when they are strong enough. SUSPEND SA RUGBY NOW.

  • piet - 2010-10-07 12:38

    Nice article, nou we wait for the WP supporters to come and try to spread their venom!

  • Bangjan - 2010-10-07 12:39

    What about a fitter and stronger looking coaching staff ?

  • sharkbait - 2010-10-07 12:48

    I feel that if we had a quality tri-nations then he could've been justified in resting players but they now need to gain some confidence. They biggest mistake PdV has made was delaying the announcement of the team till after the Currie Cup final. Surely, baring injuries, he must already have a good idea of his team. The bulk of the players will surely come from the top 4 teams so for me, the correct time to announce the team would be the Sunday after the semi's. The Ireland game is going to be the key game in order to win the grand slam and to give players a week to prepare, both mentally and as a team is not enough time. that said, if we do manage to beat Ireland then we must be odds on for the grand slam!

  • StBad - 2010-10-07 12:49

    What??? A grand slam... are you crazy? How would that be possible? Either we put on the golden oldies (Vic and the boys) who are now supposedly fit (what were they then during the 3T?) or we put on some exciting young blood (thumbs up on that) and see what they can do? Either way, a grand slam is not a possibility, really! Good luck though, I will be supporting (with some level of trepidation)

  • webb - 2010-10-07 13:17

    Yeah right - let's just remember this statement as without exception over the last few years we've been told how tired and jaded the boks are for their year end tour and that's why they play like a bunch of plonkers (3 losses in a row to Ireland in Ireland) Let's see what excuses Helium and his equally inept coaching staff will pull out if the tour goes pear shaped. Perhaps this one - if they're in such top physical condition, then perhaps it's because they're coached by such clowns?

  • BadWes - 2010-10-07 13:29

    Just hope he actually selects the players of colour on merit that deserves to be there like Johnson, de Jongh, Basson, Mvovu, and Beast. Hell even Fudge Mbete. But take Januarie and Ralepelle with, and I'd be rooting for Ireland. Select on MERIT. And Brits and Joubert and even Hougaard will be a handfull.

  • Nick - 2010-10-07 13:31

    We've heard all the reasons why they don't pull off a grand slam. Too tired after a hard season... not enough game time... not fit enough. etc etc. I would love to see the Boks playing with the dominating game we know they can play, but sadly I have no faith in the coaching staff or mangement. Pieter de Villiers is a clown, Dick Muir has come short, and no experience in his position to fall back on. The work that is being done at the Lions now compared to what it was is testament to Muirs abilities as a coach and motivator. The fact that SARFU failed to put their foot down and make changes shows they are scared of the system and the publicity machine rather than making it work for them. Sadly most sane people won't get involved while idiots are running the show - that says a lot about the issue - Sad, very sad indeed.

  • Soothsayer - 2010-10-07 14:15

    Maybe PDV should be rested,ooops, sorry he has been resting for over two years.Not that any one could tell. They also need a new excuse book,having learn't from so many ,many ,many mistakes one wonders, are there anymore excuses out there?.

  • The Godfather - 2010-10-07 14:26

    I also had a laugh at the "quickest ever tested at sea level" comment. Have they even been tested at sea level before? What a joke!!!

  • war - whites against racism - 2010-10-07 14:29

    I reckon the Boks have a 17% better chance of winning, as they are 21% less likely to get injured, also I reckon the forwards have a good chance of scoring 36% of the tries, however I reckon the backline will score 100% of the drop goals, and I do believe that 71% of the players not touring will be dispointed. JJ, you are write right, they spin 100% rubbish and provide to little comparative detail. The devil is in the detail

  • STORMER - 2010-10-07 14:55

    The writing is slick and the grammar is above average....But does that mean this article is worth anything? Similar to the question you asked old JJ.

  • Bokfan4eva - 2010-10-07 15:53

    @ "rugbyfan 12:33pm"...Absa wont put money into development as its only poor people without money to invest that will see their signage at the sides of dusty rugby fields. It doest make financial cents to put money into something/somebody/population group that doesnt have money to give back to Absa....

  • Watchdog - 2010-10-07 17:17

    Same old. Last time it was when we were going to NZ for Tri Nations. We were going to win everything this year. Then NZ AND Australia trounced us. Now it the Grand Slam. What a laugh. Man, we never learn. Humility has never been part of this team's vocab - hence the results. Ask the question.. who are the best Rugby team in the world ? It pains me to say it, but it has to be NZ, most consistent, set the benchmark every year. Boks can only win now and again; maybe we wont meet AUS or NZ at World Cup so we can kick to ball to hell and gone and win the Cup again. Since 1995, Boks have been the best hot-air talkers of all time, just like the Proteas

  • Nester - 2010-10-07 17:27

    The Boks will lose every game on tour. Mark my words. If you want.

  • Frans - 2010-10-08 06:59

    Funny how the Boks are always tired, what about the AB'S?

  • BC - 2010-10-08 11:07

    Has anyone tested the coaches for competancy? I agree with JJ - what a lot of 'Bull'. Same blind clowns in charge of the whole SARU circus will probably lead to 5 out of 5 losses in the November tour and an early departure from the RWC next year. By the end of 2011 the boks will hold the same world ranking as England does now - 5 or lower.

  • D the M - 2010-10-08 15:04

    It would be nice if Journalists researched their articles before writing them - none of our opposition will have played every weekend for the last 23 months. All unions have agreements to rest top players every 4-6 weeks, and are far better at rotation than we are. They will be at the same physical fitness as our boys, but with the ideal match fitness to boot. I have serious doubts about us being able to beat Ireland and England right now, even if the conditions and pace of the game will suit us more on this tour than the trinations...I also dont think that hougaard,brits and joubert are as good as they look in england, as the (lack of) pace of the game makes them stand out...but would love to see Mvovo/Basson and a couple others given their chance

  • Smiling Paddy - 2010-10-08 17:22

    Ireland are gonna thrash the Boks for a fourth time in a row. READ THAT AGAIN SOUTH AFRICAN LOSERS: FOUR IN A ROW! World champs in 2007 but world chumps in 2010.

  • Ian - 2010-10-09 10:19

    Derick Hougard.........?? what are you smoking JJ? English rugby is average, very average........ not surprised that our guys are all doing so well over there - Puke Watson is the perfect example, those poms think he's brilliant......... he would be warming the bench in currie cup rugby!

  • marco - 2010-10-10 18:34

    At least 5 or 6 out of the playing 15 chosen will get cited on this tour mark my words carefully and that goes without even taking to the field of play.Bakkies,Danie Rossouw and Burger are the ref's main target as always in that the smallest margin of infringement they create merits a penalty or yellow card against the Boks on the day and then you'll read a couple of hours later on SkySports News or that one or the other had been cited.This unfortunately is the story of late in a Springbok's life.Then too don't forget coach PDV's postmatch comical and/or idiotic comments follow's which is a given and guarantees added flavour to the Springbok's rotten image of late.I'd rather we don't have these November tours at all even if we were to win every game it still as far as I'm concern embarresses expat South Africans living abroad.Nough said!!!

  • owie @smiling paddy - 2010-10-10 18:43

    And how many times have Ireland won the world cup? Seeing that you brought it up!

  • joe - 2010-10-11 11:30

    Ireland will never win a world cup.The players are simply not big enough.Yes,Ireland might win a game here and there but when it gets to crunch time they buckle.They have never even made it to a world cup SEMI.EVER.And the Irish green jerseys compared to the green of the boks look like they were in the sun too long..

  • Paddy - 2010-10-11 15:45

    Never say never. The Boks and their supporters are world renowned for such arrogance. THREE IN A ROW ALREADY AND ANOTHER ON THE WAY says it all. Who cares if the Boks win a World Cup a couple of times. You cannot measure a country's current rugby prowess and make predictions by world cups alone. In between the Boks get well and truly THRASHED by the All Blacks, Australia and now Ireland who have crushed the Boks far more in the four intervening years than the Boks can reverse at a single World Cup. The record books show Irish dominance over the Boks in recent history. The 2011 WC draw shows the Irish and Boks are probably destined to meet in the QF. Don't cry to me when Ireland knocks the Boks out of the WC. The writing is already on the wall. HA HA HA HA back at ya LOSERS

  • Smiling Paddy - 2010-10-11 15:59

    I almost feel sorry for the Boks and their fans. This is a HUGE historic game in Dublin. The first international in the new stadium. You think the heroic Irish are going to lose this one on their own home turf in front of their own home crowd after three glorious victories over the Boks on the trot? Even the weather will help us to crush you southern hemisphere softies. With your same coach and second-rate players you will be getting the same treatment. Yet you are talking of a Grand Slam! Roll on World Cup. The Irish are ready for the overinflated Boks and that trophy.

  • David - 2010-10-12 08:16

    What is so fresh and fit about these Boks? They are like donkeys!!! The should have showned their freshness and fitness during the June test period and the Tri-nations!!!

  • Springboks/world chapions - 2010-10-12 09:41

    what is it again 17 out of 21 games against ireland???? 80.95% win record against them? 2 world cups against nun??? and suddenly a few HOME wins and its a celebration. Gosh rugby has changed

  • Joe - 2010-10-12 11:24

    I'm praying for a world cup QF against the Irish!I suggest you pray for a more weaker team to play against otherwise you will never make it to a world cup semi which is all you should hope for cause a final is out of the question.You Irish have been playing the world cup since 87!We only came onto the scene in 95 and have already won it twice.We are going to thrash you in Ireland!!

  • Joe - 2010-10-12 11:38


  • bickers - 2010-10-12 11:44

    If we lose our games on tour, it would be disgraceful if everyone in South Africa did not stand up and call for the sacking of P Div and his two couch potatoes. The problem is that we grumble and grumble but we don't make enough noise to build the pressure and finally let it explode, expelling the terrible excuse for a coach and his two side kicks. Seriously, we need to back what we have now and if we fail at the Autumn Internationals, its time to get rid of P Div! Enough is enough!

  • Springboks/world chapions - 2010-10-12 11:53

    Sorry i have to correct myself. it is 14 out of 19 and 1 draw for a 77.8% win record against ireland. Who is porbably the worst rugby nation on planet earth. Ireland has never beaten the all blacks let alone beating them 36 times (this includes cavaliers) paddy your such a typical irish and northern hemisphere rugby supporter. You get excited over little success because REAL success is always a step to far. What has ireland achieved except a few home victories over understrenght bok teams(2006). have you ever won on republic soil? Your pathetic vision to measure your team success on recent results instead of its whole performance in its history is quite disturbing, but i guess thats part of being irish, the shit weather makes you so naive it,so it will be such a pleasure to win game number 15 against you

  • Smiling Paddy - 2010-10-14 20:59

    Bad maths laddie. 1 YEARLY FIXTURE X 3 THRASHINGS FOR BOKS = SMILING PADDY. BOK TEAM + PDV & CO = 4TH GLORIOUS IRISH VICTORY IN A ROW. One can never argue with mathematics.

  • Springboks/world chapions - 2010-10-15 07:14

    1 yearly fixture(2009) three smashing of the all blacks including back to back in new zealand in 2008&2009.36 victories against the all blacks, 2 world cups. ireland 14 losses to the boks 4 wins and a draw, all wins at home seeing when ireland play away from home they lose by record margins. like New Zealand 66 Ireland 28. The difference is paddy when it happens to us, we usually do it to them. Must be a sad world for you to have lost 3 times as much to the boks then you have won and even more sad to have never been on a winning team against the all blacks. When you won the the grand slam it was your first Grand Slam since 1948. Just a few home game wins against low strenght bok teams and you talk as if you have conquered the rugby world. What a sad man you must be. British and IRISH lions 8 series defeats to the springboks plus your 14 losses really makes for poor reading.

  • Joe - 2010-10-15 11:47

    Hey Paddy!Long time no see!I hope I can catch you here after we thrashed the Irish on the 6th!I wonder what your excuse will be this time...Also I will be here congratulating you if your team does in fact win.I hope for your sake it is a cold misty miserable day in Ireland when the Giants meet the dwarfs cause you will need all the help you can get!

  • Jake - 2010-10-18 05:47

    @Paddy: Sunday bloody Sunday. Deja Vu?

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