Preview: Barbarians vs Springboks – 4 Dec 2010

Barbarians vs the Springboks, the last game of what has been an up and down (mostly down) season for the Bokke. The Barbarians have a proud rugby tradition and will be keen to beat the Bokke for the second time in a row, last winning in 2007.

Not many people know this but not only were the orignal outfits worn by the Barbarians leather and furs but that they absolutely love a good ol fashioned sing along.

Juan Smith is the captain in place of Victor Matfield who is finally being rested. Matfield is one player who can hold his head up high this year with stellar performances leading to an IRB Player of the Year nomination. I am not sold that he is the right man to lead the Bokke in the WC but his lineout play is second to none and his experience invaluable.

Speaking of players of the year, well done to Richie McCaw for winning his 3rd IRB Player of the Year title. He has been phenomenal this year and is surely one of the greatest rugby players to have played the game. Let’s hope he gets injured in the Super 15… not really ( really).

On to Saturday’s game though and if you ever wanted to see an attacking, skilful, fast, brute strength filled backline then look no further. Versatile James O’Connor is at fullback, with Joe Rococoko and in-form Drew Mitchell on the wings. Ma’a awesome dreads Nonu  combines with Adam Ashley-Cooper in the midfield and captain Matt Giteau and Will Genia are re-united as the half back pairing, making up any coach’s dream backline.

The forwards are not too shabby either with Stephen Moore and Neemia Tialata in the front row with former WP Currie Cup pair Anton van Zyl and Chris Jack  in the 2nd row. Rodney So’oialo, Martyn Williams (Wales) and newcomer Colin Bourke make up the loose forward trio.

For the Bokke, there are 12 changes to the team that dominated England last Saturday. Three debutants, Elton Jantjies, Andries Strauss and Coenie Oosthuizen will start for the Bokke, while Charl McLeod and Bulls prop Werner Kruger should both make their debuts off the bench. The backline is mostly made up of Sharks players with Pat Lambie moving to fullback, Adi Jacobs starting at 2nd centre and Odwa Ndungane and Lwazi Mvovo on the wings. I am not totally sold on Strauss but he had a solid Currie Cup and was immense on defence (rhyme – check).

Willem Alberts finally gets a start with the pint-sized Keegan Daniels on the bench. Bakkies Botha, CJ van der Linde and Ryan Kankowski offer some much-needed experience, with Gio Aplon, Tendai Mtawarira and Flip Van Der Merwe on the bench.

The Nick Mallett coached Baa Baas have said they are expecting the Bokke to be far more expansive but do not expect too much deviation from the game plan adopted last week.

Expect the likes of Juan Smith, Coenie Oosthuizen and Willem Alberts to smash it up and wear down the Baa Baa forwards and defenders, leading to a more expansive game in the 2nd half. Young Elton had a very good Currie Cup and is someone to watch out for next year as he may well be in PdV’s plans for the WC. His defence will surely be tested on Saturday as the likes of Nonu and Ashley-Cooper look to attack the flyhalf channel but being small doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t tackle (just ask Aplon).

This could be a very entertaining game, weather permitting and is a fantastic opportunity for the young guns. PdV’s job may well be safe but a win this Saturday may well give Dicky Muir some breathing space. This game will be valuable experience for the newbies but to expect them to beat the star-studded Barbarians team may be asking a bit much.

Venue: Twickenham, London

Kick Off: 4:30pm

Prediction: Baa Baas by 10

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~ by bowlphilosophy on December 2, 2010.

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