Springboks vs All Blacks: Tri-Nations – 20 Aug 2011
World Cup or no world cup, the Springbok performances in this year’s Tri-Nations tournament have been mostly average to fairly shitake. When it was decided to send a ‘B’ side on the Australasian leg of the tournament, the writing was graffitied all over the wall and the poor results should have been expected. This of course does nothing to appease the pissed off and disillusioned Bok fans.
The fact is that Pieter de Villiers, Gary Gold, Dicky Muir and the selectors have failed to blood enough new players in their four years together. PdV has made it clear that he knew, back in 2009, which players he would take to the RWC (injuries permitting), which is fine and dandy but shows absolutely no regard for the future of Bok rugby post this rugby world cup.
There is however not much the loyal Bok fan can do at this late stage but stop grumbling about the coach and his assistants and get behind the team. The Bokke have one last chance to get back to winning ways before the RWC2011 and thanks to Graham Henry’s decision to rest his frontline players, the task has become a leeeetle bit easier.
The All Blacks have left 8 first choice players back home with the most notable ones being Dan the man Carter and Richard captain charming McCaw. The All Blacks will not be the same without the rested players but the replacements are skillful, eager to impress and keen as can be. Players like Israel Dagg, Sonny boxer Williams, Richard Kahui and Hosea Gear are all exciting players in their own right and would walk into most international sides.
In the forwards, experienced Tony WoodCock comes back into the side with John Afoa and along with captain Kevin Mealamu will give the Bok front row a real test at scrum time. Liam Messam had a superb Supe Rugby season and his partnership with Jerome Kaino and Adam Thompson will be very important for the front foot ball the backs will be looking for. They have lost some of the grunt usually provided by Brad Thorn and if the Bokke can front up in the forwards, they may well put pressure on inexperienced Colin Slade at flyhalf.
The Bokke have made 5 changes to their side, with Bismark du Plessis (finally) getting a start at hooker. Gurthro Steenkamp comes in at loosehead and will be keen to get some minutes under the belt after a long injury lay off. Danie Rossouw is in the team as a lock replacement and Ashley afro Johnson gets another chance off the bench.
Juan Smith has withdrawn from the squad after failing to recover from a torn Achilles. He will be sorely missed as is surely one of the finest loose forwards to have played the game. I for one will miss his signature hand-off face smashes and his ingenious use of refs to tackle players.
Blood Diamond, we salute you.
Thankfully this (the loose forwards) is one area where the Bokke have ample back up and will welcome the return of man mountain Willem Alberts. Alberts has a big future in the Bok setup and will know that with Schalk Burger still injured, could stake a real claim for a RWC starting place with a quality performance this week. In the backs, Morne Steyn comes back into the starting side with Pat babyface Lambie coming in for the
overweight injured Frans Steyn. The Beeeast, John Smit and Jannie Du Plessis are on the bench which at least means we will not have to see Smit moved to tighthead.
The battle of the flyhalves may well decide this test. Steyn has been woefully out of form and admitted as much recently, he will need to restore the faith shown and improve dramatically in this test especially on defense with Boxer Williams targetting his channel. Colin Slade is very inexperienced at this level but can cement his place as the back up to Carter with a solid performance.
The Bokke have a very good record in PE and FiretrUCKtard local All Black supporters aside, this game should be a sold out cracker. The Bokke ideally need to be leading by a fair margin in the last quarter, to win this game. If it is close on the scoreboard, the lack of match fitness and PdV’s dubious substitutes may well cost them again.
Venue: Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, PE
Prediction: Bokke by 7-10