S15: No rest for some Boks?

2012-06-25 16:37

Cape Town - Several Springbok players are probably feeling more than a little envious of the sizeable Sharks contingent from their midst right now.

Bok representatives of that franchise have the relative bliss, after three gruelling weeks of Test rugby, of a bye weekend as Super Rugby unashamedly bashes its way back to the forefront of attention this weekend.

It will be welcome respite for men like Bismarck and Jannie du Plessis, Beast Mtawarira and Marcell Coetzee, all of whom were on the park for very much the lion’s share of the 2-0 series victory over England, a team who may have been limited for attacking prowess but were nothing if not fiercely resilient in all three Tests.

While they bask in the knowledge that the Sharks will bank four “free” log points as they nurse bumps and bruises, the Bok players from the Bulls and Stormers are not nearly so lucky.

It is sure to be action stations once more for the vast majority of Springboks from those outfits: the Bulls host the domestic main event on Saturday (19:10) against the Cheetahs, whilst the Stormers don’t have it especially easier - if at all - as they entertain the Lions at Newlands (17:05).

There is a case for saying that the various Stormers and Bulls Boks have effectively played four Tests in as many weeks, considering that the week before the first Test against England they played each other in a South African derby typical for its raw, uncompromising nature.

With forwards, for the most part, needing to be “rotated” more than backs do because of the greater bodily demands on them, clearly a rest week would be the ideal scenario for customers like Pierre Spies, Juandre Kruger and Eben Etzebeth.

The same, though, could apply to someone like Jean de Villiers, who has really put his body on the line in the Bok midfield and also carried the mental demands of captaincy against England.

But we are also at a high-stakes, advanced stage of Super Rugby when franchise coaches, understandably, will find it hard to offer essential players the luxury of time off even if they are quietly aware that it is the right thing to do.

Both the Cheetahs and Lions may be out of the running for the six-team playoffs phase but they will not hand out any charity to compatriots - even the bottom SA-placed latter team, now minus suspended coach John Mitchell and many of their players seemingly the merrier for it, may fancy their chances of toppling the conference-topping Stormers after shocking the Sharks immediately before the Test window.

Etzebeth is probably the Bok tight forward most in need of a short break; he has carried a desperately heavy load this year, even in his maiden full first-class season, largely because of the Stormers’ injury problems with the other first-choice second rower Andries Bekker.

Even with Bekker likely to be fit to return against the Lions, there is talk of Etzebeth having to play - perhaps even in the unfamiliar role of blindside flank - due to the continued absence of other core personnel in the loose forward department like
Schalk Burger, Rynhardt Elstadt (one-match suspension), Nick Koster and Duane Vermeulen.

It is also not as though the Stormers are so blessed with centres that they can comfortably afford to leave out De Villiers on Saturday and field somebody else of suitable ability or experience alongside Juan de Jongh.

There is perhaps slightly less of a player-management predicament at the Bulls; coach Frans Ludeke will be fully aware that Bok engine-room folk like Flip van der Merwe and Werner Kruger have been used only as substitutes in the England series and will presumably be hungry to actually start in the “grudge” game against the Cheetahs.

Just as keen to climb back onto the horse, as it were, will be the Bulls halfback duo of Francois Hougaard and Morne Steyn, who have to prove some doubters wrong after misfiring showings for South Africa this month.

Giving No 8 Spies a non-playing Saturday is also unlikely as he is the Bulls captain and they cannot afford to slip at Loftus against the visitors from Bloemfontein - their playoffs presence is well less than assured after three losses on the trot before the Super Rugby hiatus.

But the best shoes to be in this weekend remain those of Sharks mastermind John Plumtree, knowing that his Bok players can “go fishing” and come back re-energised for their next assignment against the Bulls at Mr Price Kings Park on Friday, July 6 ...

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing


  • bloudaan.blou - 2012-06-25 16:47

    Ek weet die Bulle sal dit kan vat, maar ek worry nogaal oor die Stormers, hulle is mos maar bietjie sagter as die res :-)

      John - 2012-06-25 16:51

      As jy iets van "sag" will weet gaan praat met jou vrou :-)

      Morne - 2012-06-25 16:52

      Ja-nee, die Stormers is sagter as die res. Maar duidelik hoef mens nie baie hard te wees om die Bulle 2 keer te wen nie.

      Tom - 2012-06-25 16:53

      john u ride horses, if we need to talk about soft, i think it should be about you

      Tom - 2012-06-25 16:54

      what a compliment morne that the best part of the season is to beat the bulls twice, just goes to show how highly regarded the bulls are. thanks

      bloudaan.blou - 2012-06-25 16:56

      Relax manne....!!!! Dis net n joke :-) Niks pesoonlik teen die Stormers nie :-)

      pieter.thefuture - 2012-06-25 16:58

      ek sou nie van sag praat as my span in pink speel en boonop 2 keer teen die stormers verloor het nie.

      Morne - 2012-06-25 17:00

      Tom - The Bulls are highly rated with reason, and yes it is a great part of the season to beat the Bulls twice. Hopefully the Stormers can actually go one better and win the cup for a change. If not, they can still say they beat die Bulls twice.

      Benny - 2012-06-25 18:05

      Daan, die spulletjie het minder humoursin as trofees.

      Provence - 2012-06-25 19:19

      Ou Bloudaan, die pienk koeie het harde speene maar die een tussen die ore is maar baie sag.

      tokolos.tokkie - 2012-06-25 19:33

      Luister julle Platkoppe.... Dit help nie julle wen al die Bulle 2 keer en loop rond met 'n amper onoorwonne rekord teen ander spanne net om weereens te kom CHOOOOOOOOKE in die semi finals nie. Hou eers die beker in die lug dan gesels ons weer. Cupless AGAIN..... Stommerikke!!!

      Harold - 2012-06-25 19:38

      Tokolos, don't bother. They never listen.

  • CharlesDumbwin - 2012-06-25 16:58

    Stormers by 47, Bulls by 20

  • henmich.maart - 2012-06-25 17:24

    A.C! Give Eben a brake man-he so deserve it. It's better to give him a brake now, than to lose him by injury caused by fatigue. That will mean, also buggering up his playing in the coming champion-league. So come now A.C- give the man a brake!

      René - 2012-06-25 17:38

      He should also give Kitshoff a break, he played 5 games in 3 weeks with very little time off.

      Stormkaap - 2012-06-25 17:41

      Henmich, the break should have come sooner! I hope AC would have seen that Eben needs a break. There are enough players to back up Bekker, viz Steenkamp and Roux , especially against the Lions.

      Tom - 2012-06-25 18:42

      are the stormers playing soccer in european champions league??? joe pieteresen will be a hit with the boys up there

      Tom - 2012-06-25 18:42

      is eben's car not stopping properly? how much are the brakes?

      henmich.maart - 2012-06-26 08:26

      That's what I meant Tom-give the man a 'brake' and not a 'break'. A.C is known as a coach who is very reluctant to give his big performers off. What I wish him to do, is to use these players on the bench and send them on, only when really needed. You understand my use of 'brake instead of break' now, Tom? Sorry to confuse you pal!

  • Cavin - 2012-06-25 17:30

    Both games are going to be tough this weekend. Stormers standing a 50/50 chance against the Lions if the Lions can play again like they did against the Sharks. My money is still on the Stormers for the game. The Bulls face the tougher Cheetahs and might just take it depending on how rough the game is going to be played. Taking in to account the form and injuries of the some of the Bulls players my verdict is more likely to sway to a Cheetahs victory. But as the past has proven time and time again, a match is won on the day and not before by its supporters. So we can predict and hope as much as we like but time will only tell its tale once the final whistle has sounded. Good luck to all the teams. Great 4 pointer to my SHARKS!!!!

  • steven.chiaberta - 2012-06-25 19:09

    I bet you anything that the NZ franchises will give key all blacks a rest before the Rugby Championship, either this weekend or next, and the australians will too. Only SA teams will play every available Bok in every Super game between now and then, and so inevitably the Boks, completely sut, will struggle like hell. Then the SA public will want half the team dropped and the other half hung from a tree. When will we stop being our own biggest enemy???!!

  • steven.chiaberta - 2012-06-25 19:12

    And they'll rest their best players even though they want to win the Super 15 as much as we do, because for them the national team comes first. I understand that the Super coaches live and die by their results, but they're in the same boat as our coaches and they'll do it anyway. Just watch.

  • Provence - 2012-06-25 19:17

    Steyn and Hougaard trying to prove doubters wrong. Freeking hell, how do you compare playing against the Cheetahs to playing test rugby?? Both Hougaard and Steyn will do relatively well and then all will say they are back!!!!! They are both not international standard finished!! No amount of training will make them play better rugby. They may kick better but NOT PLAY BETTER RUGBY. DO YOU UNDERSTAND??????? THEY CAN'T PLAY RUGBY FULL STOPPPPPPP!!!!!!!!!!

      Harold - 2012-06-25 19:22


      Benny - 2012-06-26 06:22

      Hulle het meer cups gewen as jou hele ou spannetjie saam.

      Papa-storm - 2012-06-26 08:21

      benny ons currie cups is meer as al julle cups saam gaan google dit maar

      TravieGrif - 2012-06-26 11:14

      @Ken...I don't agree with Provences' comments, but I have to ask what on earth his stats have to do with the price of eggs? The stats show that he kicks more ball away than any other flyhalf in S15, his goal kicking accuracy is the lowest of all the SA flyhalves. His defence isn't bad, but these make him neither good or bad. The fact that he has won trophies is great...that means that he used to be a good player, and well done to him. What does it say for him today? Well, that he has experience, and that is a plus, but precious little else. I certainly am not dropping to my knees for those kind of stats. Give me a 36-24-36 stat, and you might get a reaction, but I am not sure if that counts, and those stats don't apply to the male gender! Hehehe

  • pages:
  • 1