From a life-changing cycle from Paris to Brighton with my boyhood hero Morne du Plessis in order to witness Ron Rutland finish his epic cycle through Africa to the World Cup, to watching the rugby theatre that was Japan beating the Boks... to Namibia v Tonga at home on the couch!
Bring on the Prozac!
Perhaps my initial high is the reason the World Cup has not really gripped me just yet. England v Wales and the Bok games, yes. But the rest, not so much. It has certainly gripped the locals, though, and good on England for organising a cracker of a tournament with truly impressive crowds.
Generating revenues in the world’s strongest currency (Those R110.00 Heinekens at the Brighton Community Stadium still hurt) can only be good for the game... provided World rugby don’t pull a FIFA!
To the men in Green and Gold then… After the slap in the face with a wet fish in Brighton, it was back to basics, and respecting the opposition, against Samoa. It was an impressive response. They will need more of the same against the haggis eating, golf shirt wearing bogey-men this weekend. And I quite like the look of the side coach Heyneke Meyer has selected.
It’s fantastic to see Damian de Allende and Jesse Kriel teaming up again in the midfield. While it’s sad to see Jean de Villiers depart the scene in these circumstances, his World Cup selection was delaying the inevitable. These guys are the future, so it’s one less headache for Meyer.
While impressively owning the lineout last week, and justifying his squad selection, the side does not lose a hell of a lot given the injury to Victor Matfield. Lood de Jager continues to impress come both lineout and work around the park.
Sans the bearded master of the air, though, I did think Schalk Burger would captain the side, but Fourie du Preez’s appointment makes sense, and might indeed prove be an inspired call. It makes sense in that the Meyer and Du Preez allegiance goes back a long way, and given the rumblings re senior players not following orders against Japan, having Du Preez at the helm gives Meyer a simpler way of guaranteeing that his blueprint gets implemented between the four white lines.
Inspired in that Du Preez is not nicknamed “The General” without reason, and it leaves both Burger and Duane Vermeulen, definitely still shaking off a little post injury rust, to focus on their games. He definitely needs to lose that scowl, though, and can’t be flapping his arms in the air like a deranged air traffic controller at every breakdown. Referees will not take too kindly to that.
Speaking of the breakdown - which was managed incredibly well against Samoa - if Francois Louw goes down, in Willem Alberts and Pieter-Steph du Toit, the Boks only have some very tall, and slightly rickety, timber to replace him. I guess one then moves away from trying to steal or slow the ball down, to bulldozing through it. Would Siya Kolisi not have been a better bet?
My only real gripe with the side is at tighthead prop. Given how Frans Malherbe rectified what was without doubt a retreating scrum against Samoa with Jannie du Plessis at the helm, I thought the WP man deserved a start. Thankfully he remains on the bench ahead of a retreated loosehead, but this is a selection that is impossible to fathom.
A little balm to sooth that selection is the fact that Jannie does tend to play a little better with his brother Bismarck du Plessis to his left, but one has to wonder if the bullocking hooker really deserves to be back after his fiasco against Japan? Adriaan Strauss was back to his best last week, while Schalk Brits was quite refreshing as an impact player off the bench.
That said, these are high level selection dilemmas that only fractionally influence the team. Over to you WP Nel and Josh Strauss. Time to crack open a cold one and enjoy!
Tank is a former Western Province tighthead prop who now heads up Tankman Media, and sprouts forth on all things rugby on the Front Row Grunt.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.