Play the Bokkies …

No one should really be surprised by the Boks 39-20 defeat to the Wallabies in Sydney … It was a travelling Bok B side against a Wallaby side sporting several all conquering Reds players still smarting from a Samoan snotklap …

I had them to go down by 12 on SuperBru, and definitely thought I might have gone in a little light …

But the extent and nature of the loss was surprising, and has to be concerning.

If we have to be honest with ourselves, the score actually flattered the Boks … Australia led 39-6 with 25 minutes to go, and then started bringing on guys off the bench which messed with their flow. In that time, the Boks scored two consolation tries to add a little respectability to the final score.

Up front, let me just say that I agree with the call to rest the top flight Boks for the away leg of the Tri-Nations. I am also more than happy to lose the odd Test in order to grow squad depth and blood new players. Such is the nature of the sport these days, where so much rugby is played, that Tests, sadly, are no longer the sacred cows they used to be. Players simply cannot play all the rugby that is being asked of them, so using certain Tests to test new combinations and grow depth makes sense …

But then use the opportunity to do that. Playing Smit at hooker, Stegmann as an open sider, Rossouw as a flank, Pienaar and Steyn as the half backs and Olivier at inside centre is more like rehashing on old B-Grade movie than getting the pilot episode to a new series …

If Rossouw had been at lock, Ralepelle at hooker, Keegan Daniel and Deysel at flank, McLoed (or Sarel Pretorious) and Lambie at half back, and Adi Jacobs or even young Johann Sadie at centre, then losing to the Aussies would have been acceptable, and a step toward giving these guys experience at the highest level.

Instead we had a passion free, flat footed Bok side taking the ball while static, seemingly intent on giving the ball up in the tackle. Now of course they did not go out to lose the game, and I am pretty sure every guy gave his very best, but the result was mortifying, and I am not sure any of the players actually gained from the experience …

All that happened was for quite a few players to play themselves out of World Cup contention.

Deon Stegmann was completely AWOL as the Boks were beaten at the breakdown. Wynand Olivier failed to impress at this level – again, though the service from scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar and flyhalf Morne Steyn was shaky at best. Pienaar was ponderous, while Steyn seemed intent to take a couch type ride in the pocket .

This while the skipper – with that gormless stare and open mouth fish out of water expression doing him no favours – seemed to add no value in the scrums and certainly not much else round the park. He just looks to be off the pace at the moment …

And lying in wait, a mere 5 days from now, the mighty All Blacks! Massive call to throw the little ones at them, but I say let’s do it …

My suggested team then:

15 Gio Aplon; 14 Bjorn Basson, 13 Juan De Jongh, 12 Adrian Jacobs, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Pat Lambie, 9 Charl McLoed; 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Ashley Johnson, 6 Jean Deysel, 5 Danie Rossouw, 4 Flip van der Merwe; 3 Werner Kruger, 2 John Smit (capt), 1 Dean Greyling

The John Smit bed has been made. He is going to skipper the side at the World Cup from hooker. As such, the man needs as much game time as he can get in that position …

I know it looks pretty damn scary to have Adi Jacobs up against Nonu, but the Boks need to move away from trying to keep the score down and rather try and play some rugby when they can. At least Jacobs will test the defence with guile and slight of hand.

Stegmann has failed at this level, and we have no other fetcher in the squad. So let’s rather pull a Jake White and not play one, aiming rather for hard aggressive rucking to secure ball or force turnovers at the breakdown.

This side will lose to the All Blacks, but to my mind, at least it invests a little in the future …



PS: The 2012 rugby season (courtesy of Stephen Nell) …

South Africa, New Zealand and Australia will all play one Test less against each other to accommodate Argentina in the Four Nations next year  – expected to run from 18 August to 6 October 2012. The four countries will tackle each other on a home-and-away basis and all 4 teams will be in action each weekend.

South Africa will also play England in a three-match series earlier in the year. Super Rugby will break on 2 June for the Boks’ three matches against England on June 9, 16 and 23. Super Rugby will then resume on June 30, with the final set for August 4.

The Springboks will end 2012’s international season with Tests against France, Scotland and England.


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