Currie Cup

Danger of Carr ‘breakdown’?

2014-09-02 12:03
Nizaam Carr (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - He has been one of the stellar performers nationwide as the Currie Cup approaches its halfway stage in pre-knockout play this weekend.

But will Nizaam Carr, the tearaway No 8 for log-leaders Western Province, fall prey soon to that all too common shortcoming by South African coaches at either Super Rugby or provincial level: flogging players to the point of exhaustion or often not unrelated injury?

A week and a half ago, WP coach Allister Coetzee admitted to some journalists that Carr, whose game-to-game work-rate has often been little short of extraordinary, was in need of some “off” time – remember that the domestic competition has no bye-weekend luxuries.

He reportedly said of the 23-year-old dynamo, after Province had beaten the similarly ambitious Golden Lions in a key fixture at Newlands: “Nizaam has gone through a lot of work and has (also) played through Super Rugby without a rest.”

Player management would be important, he said, as the competition wore on.

But he stopped shy of saying he would consider sitting him out of the follow-up game, away to the Bulls – Carr, who must be pressing ever more strongly for higher honours, was duly selected and played a full-blooded role in the fast-paced 23-18 triumph at Loftus on Saturday.

If Coetzee is going to put his money where his mouth is in terms of player rotation issues, then Friday’s Newlands date with the bottom-of-table EP Kings shapes up as the ideal opportunity to keep his ace No 8 in the garage, as it were ... or perhaps at the very most, install him among the substitutes and give him some impact time if it happens to be required.

Frankly, if it doesn’t occur this weekend, you have to suspect it is even less likely further into the run-in to the semi-finals – Province’s next fixture is a taxing return one away to the Lions at Ellis Park, for instance, and Carr is highly unlikely to be “pulled” from that one.

In fairness to the coach, who is mindful of not wanting to lose any unnecessary momentum among his unbeaten charges, alternative specialist No 8s don’t exactly jump out at him, especially given that his Stormers first-choice in the berth Duane Vermeulen is a vital figure in the Springbok mix and almost certainly won’t see any Currie Cup game-time at all this year.

The designated substitute WP loose forward at Loftus, too, was Rynhardt Elstadt, not long back from long-term injury and very much a blindside flank rather than anything else in a loose trio.

But is it not worth taking the risk, even if the loose forward combination temporarily takes on a slightly unbalanced look for the visit of the wooden-spoonists, of choosing this attractive point to put bigger-picture needs first for a change?

Despite some intolerant howls to the contrary from more unforgiving critics and enthusiasts, I am among those absolutely convinced that the unusual form problems of late suffered by the likes of Bok front-rowers Bismarck and Jannie du Plessis, among others, are glaringly linked to their over-use at Super Rugby level this season by Sharks mastermind Jake White ... even if there may be residual fatigue issues from last year, into the unpalatable bargain.

There is just too much short-term thinking in South African rugby; might Coetzee bravely break the habit in this instance?     

The WP team to tackle the Kings is to be revealed on Wednesday. A sit-out for Carr? If I were a betting man I wouldn’t count on it, and I’d be simultaneously thinking: “We may just get a damaged engine somewhere down the line.”

Perhaps we’ll hear that familiar old defence: “We’ll manage the player carefully in training.”

Is that good enough?

I’m really not so sure, with the sudden onset of mental staleness or busy treatment tables and operating theatres often bearing this out.

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

Read more on:    wp  |  currie cup  |  nizaam carr  |  cape town  |  rugby

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