Bok squad left too late

2010-10-06 07:46
Peter de Villiers (Gallo)
Comment: Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer

Cape Town - As if there hasn’t been enough tumult in the camp over coaching matters, the Springbok team are also going to have to hit the ground running on their Grand Slam tour.

GALLERY: Boks undergo physicals

Confirmation by SARU on Tuesday that the national squad for the traditional end-of-year tour will only be named after the Absa Currie Cup final on October 30 means there will be precious little time for players to digest their inclusion or, more importantly, acclimatise ahead of the tough first assignment against Ireland in Dublin just a week later.

Nobody needs reminding that the Irish achieved their own Grand Slam (winning all matches in the Six Nations) in 2009 and were runners-up to France this year – they have also won all of their last three home Tests against South Africa.

So it is hardly a soft start for the Boks, and a real “rush job” will be required to get them ready, minus trusty leader John Smit, for their first challenge of the European winter.

Certainly the fortnight between the Currie Cup semi-finals on October 16 and final, while a blessing for certain hard-pressed domestic players who will appreciate the rest, is beginning to look more and more like an unhelpful curse from a Springbok perspective.

It is also hard to fathom why the Bok tour party has to be left until “final day”: surely there was a case for announcing it a week earlier, when there is no Currie Cup action and it will thus hardly be short of rightful, standalone media hype?

You would think, after another long and gruelling year, it is unlikely that the domestic showpiece will present any special value in “last-minute look” terms for the national brains trust.

Almost needless to say, the New Zealand and Australia squads for similar undertakings abroad will be known a much more satisfactory fortnight ahead of first action on the battlefield.

En route, these teams meet in Hong Kong, in a residual Bledisloe Cup match, on October 30.

The Wallabies already have a 40-man training squad - admittedly helped by the fact that their country has no such intense matter as a Currie Cup knockout phase to consider - and it will be trimmed to a travelling 36 on October 14.

Meanwhile All Blacks coach Graham Henry is to announce his tour party on October 17: the domestic ITM Cup final is only on November 5 but senior New Zealand stars have been precluded completely from activity in it and ought to be rather less bruised for their Euro crusade than some Springboks who will tear into the Currie Cup final fray.

Apart from the Hong Kong date, the All Blacks, like South Africa, will be having a crack at each of the traditional Home Unions.

These are uncertain times for the Boks, mostly because of the rumpus surrounding the tenuous hold on authority of coach Peter de Villiers and his lieutenants.

And with the stated intention to leave various senior squad figures at home to rest, clearly some rookies are going to be introduced to green and gold blazers.

A right royal scramble both to get to know your allies in transit and then be properly equipped for the Irish onslaught hardly helps matters, does it?

Read more on:    john smit  |  peter de villiers  |  boks

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