Cape Town - Sport24’s Herman Mostert highlights FIVE talking points following the Springboks’ 23-17 Rugby Championship defeat to Australia in Brisbane.
1. Issues at flyhalf
Elton Jantjies continues to produce erratic performances in a Springbok jersey.
He is a shadow of the player that performs for the Lions in Super Rugby and his shaky goal-kicking again cost the Boks this past weekend. He missed a crucial, and very makeable, penalty on the stroke of half-time which would have given the Boks a 17-13 lead.
It would have given them much-needed momentum after they had been on the back foot for the latter parts of the first half.
Momentum is everything in top level sport and Jantjies is not giving the Boks enough of that at present.
Jantjies still shows promising signs, as was evident with his clever grubber in lead-up to second South African try.
But his game-management is just not where coach Allister Coetzee would want it to be.
Has Coetzee’s patience run out with Jantjies? Maybe Johan Goosen will be tried at pivot this weekend...
2. Toetie needs to teach Faf
If Jantjies is criticised after Saturday, then it would be unfair not to level some of the blame on his halfback partner Faf de Klerk.
Make no mistake, De Klerk has been one of the rare shining lights for the Boks this year, but he makes too many mistakes for a top-level Test scrumhalf.
Tactically, De Klerk is not the complete package and often fails to relieve pressure off Jantjies and Saturday it was noticeable how often he stands up and takes a step before off-loading.
Those are the basics of scrumhalf play and coach Coetzee should be able to teach that. He was a scrumhalf in his playing days after all...
3. Boks lack invention on attack
The Springboks look a lacklustre bunch on attack. They seem devoid of ideas and uncertain of what to do with ball in hand.
Maybe the time is right for an attacking guru to join the squad.
Mzwandile Stick was backline coach of the hapless Kings in Super Rugby this year, then promoted to Springbok backline coach. He is still an inexperienced coach and was perhaps thrown into the deep end.
4. Puzzling post-match quotes from Bok coach
The Springboks appear a team uncertain of what game plan to follow.
The coaching staff has acknowledged the need to follow a more attacking minded philosophy, but we haven’t seen much of that in the last few weeks.
What’s even more alarming is the traditional strengths of Springbok rugby - physicality and forward dominance - are also not coming to the fore.
It was puzzling to read the following quote from coach Allister Coetzee afterwards: "Our set-piece functioned well tonight, especially on our own scrum ball and our lineouts. We were physical and dominated the collision exchanges, created enough scoring opportunities but lost the ball in contact at times when we needed to go through one or two more phases.”
I’m not sure I share those same sentiments. What scrum dominance? Not one powerful driving maul off a lineout. The Boks created one scoring opportunity - from which they scored an early try. The other try was off an intercept. There were no other scoring opportunities created.
5. 2016: Annus horribilis for Boks?
The current Springbok team is starting to remind me of the horror period of when Rudolf Straeuli was coach in the early 2000s.
That Bok team took severe beatings, like 52-16 to the All Blacks and 53-3 to England.
The Boks are facing the Kiwis this Saturday and with the way they’re performing at present, a similar scoreline could be on the cards.
To date in 2016, the Boks have played six Tests, winning three and losing three.
They have seven matches remaining - New Zealand (Christchurch), Australia (Pretoria), New Zealand (Durban), Barbarians (London), England (London), Italy (Rome) and Wales (Cardiff).
If the Boks aren’t careful they could lose five of the seven above-mentioned matches which would give them a torrid five out of 13 for 2016.
Let’s hope this prediction is wrong...