JJ Harmse

Joubert flies SA flag

2011-10-13 15:18
Sport24 columnist JJ Harmse (File)
JJ Harmse

It's a very lonely feeling to be a Springbok supporter in New Zealand five days after that heart-stopping and heart-breaking afternoon in Bryce Lawrence-ville, also known as Wellington, also known as the coolest little capital in the world.

Walking around Auckland, where the Springboks were due to meet their destiny in the World Cup by beating the All Blacks on Sunday on their way to the final, you battle to see any of the familiar green and gold supporters who were so visible during this World Cup before last weekend.

In fact, those that you do see walking around, look lost. Small groups of fans, normally three or four, walking the streets of Auckland with no real purpose or direction.

Some still wear the Springbok jerseys they bought for their tour, others wear the green windbreakers so well known on Boks supporters tours, but others have decided to ditch their national colours and walk around with normal clothing.

It is painful to see those fans, who paid thousands and thousands of Rands to attend the World Cup and to see the Boks win it again, so distraught.

So rather than looking at them in passing, I started to look up to the buildings surrounding the Auckland City Centre. What a surprise that was.

Almost everywhere you look, Dan Carter looks down on you from billboards varying in size, anything between a bed sheet and a drive-in cinema screen.

The picture is not the one of Carter limping off the field in Wellington with the help of two backroom staff and out of the World Cup. No, no.

Carter, who has been a model for Jockey underwear for years, stands there in nothing but the product he apparently also wears on match days, along with bulging biceps and the corresponding six pack, looking likes he means business.

Which he and the All Blacks probable would have done, were it not for the groin injury he suffered.

Suddenly I understood their fixation with Quade Cooper as well.

Since Cooper used his knees and Richie McCaw’s head to get off the Suncorp turf in the final match of the Tri-Nations, he's been public enemy No 1 in New Zealand.

Since the arrival of the Australians in New Zealand for the World Cup, every newspaper carried with equal zest a story about Carter’s greatness and Cooper’s lack of it.

Nothing changed when Carter limped out of the tournament. His name is still in every paper every day, but it is more to do with his successors (or lack thereof) Colin Slade, Aaron Cruden and Stephen Donald and how they are coping, rather than how the great Dan will save the All Blacks.

Cooper is still the main villain. His big friend and All Black star Sonny Bill Williams probably said it perfectly on Wednesday when he ascribed some of the hate towards Cooper as respect for his abilities.

Make no mistake, Cooper has all the abilities. Yes, his current form is flaky to say the least and he was fairly ineffective against the Springboks, but we have all seen him play.

He could destroy the All Blacks on Sunday and that is what they probably fear most, being beaten by one of their own.

It is going to be a great game and what a stage for Craig Joubert to show off his talents as a referee. He was very impressive during this tournament where a lot of the main contenders to the claim of best referee simply went into meltdown and disappeared.

Bryce Lawrence, unfortunately for the Boks and their brave effort, suffered that in the wrong game and the South Africans perished because of that.

It would be fitting for Joubert to also handle the final come October 23. The fact that there will be no Springbok side to contest that final will make it easier for Paddy O’Brien and his wise men to lean towards Joubert.

A World Cup final may not always feature the two top ranked teams in the world, but it should have the best referee to handle it.

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.

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