New-look, nothing to lose Boks could be handy

2016-11-22 15:12
Rohan Janse Van Rensburg (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - It is hard to find anything positive to say about the current state of South African rugby. 

Allister Coetzee looks to be on the verge of being sacked, the Boks have lost 7 out of 11 Tests this year, they were stunned by lowly Italy last weekend and the end of what has been a pitiful year can't come soon enough.

The words 'rock bottom' have been used countless times since Saturday, and there are few who could argue that the Boks have ever been in a worse state than they currently find themselves in. 

Coetzee knows that, and all he can do now is hope for something positive against Wales on Saturday. 

The hard truth is that most have already made their minds up about Coetzee, and even a win against the struggling Welsh will do little to sway those critics. 

On the surface, there appears to be little hope for the Boks going into this weekend. 

They look a team completely devoid of confidence, they have very little impetus going forward, they remain incredibly inconsistent defensively and there is no indication of a shared direction between the players and the coaching staff. 

But perhaps most disappointing, and this is directed specifically at the Italy performance, was the lack of intensity. 

In times of crisis, sides need their experienced players to step up and take the bull by the horns. Those are the players that coaches turn to when the chips are down. 

But on Saturday, and all season, those players have gone missing. 

Losing is one thing, but losing without putting up a fight is another matter entirely. 

It looked like the Boks were waiting for it to just "happen" on Saturday. All too often there were hands on heads as players looked around aimlessly, feeling hard done by. 

And, as long as the Boks were in front, there appeared to be no urgency to score points. 

It was only when Italy edged ahead that the Boks looked to move up a gear, but they were so poor on the day that they couldn't even do that. 

Coetzee has now said that he will look to rotate his players for the Wales game, and while that should probably have happened against Italy instead, it is perhaps the only shining light for the Boks as they prepare for Saturday. 

Energy is so important.

The Boks have had little - and almost none of it - on their European tour so far, but they may find a mini-injection of intensity and urgency if they field enough fringe players on the tour finale. 

There are guys on tour who will be desperate to prove their worth in Bok colours, and if they are given a crack on the weekend it may just translate into a more inspired Bok performance. 

Rohan Janse van Rensburg, so good in Super Rugby this year and impressive for the Boks against the Barbarians, simply must play. 

The Boks need drive and pace from that midfield channel, and the Lions man needs a chance to show what he can do. 

Jamba Ulengo is another. Give him a game with Ruan Combrinck on the other wing, and rest Bryan Habana. 

Then, in the forwards, the Boks could do with some serious new blood from guys like Malcolm Marx, Jean-Luc du Preez and Uzair Cassiem.

At halfback, a return to the Lions pairing of Faf de Klerk and Elton Jantjies makes the most sense.

Both of those players have been out in the cold, and both will be pumped to show they still belong.

More importantly, though, the Boks have absolutely nothing to lose and supporters would rather see them go out swinging than ducking in a corner. 

De Klerk and Jantjies would provide that brave, care-free approach that is needed right now. 

I'm not for a second saying that these new faces will turn the Boks into a winning side, but they would at least provide an element of freshness that Coetzee so badly needs. 

There is nothing to lose. Pick the youngsters and give them license to play. We might actually be surprised by the result ...

Read more on:    springboks  |  allister coetzee  |  rugby


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