Hi guys I know everyone and his dog choose their Bok World Cup teams at the moment but I thought I will also try. By the way my dog choose 15 fetchers in his team because he like players who chase the ball! That is why dogs do not coach rugby.
Ok, how do we do a article like this? For starting, we can either choose a team WE would take, or we can try to predict a team that HEYNEKE will take. I have chose to do the second option. I want to try my prediction skills, and also if we try to get into the head of Heyneke then we can understand the Springboks better.
Bok strategy is to play high tempo for full 80 minutes, so substitutes is important to Heyneke. Boks will run themself into the ground and then the bench players will come on and do the same. The Boks really is a team of 23 players. Our bench guys is not “back-ups” in case of emergency – they are like relay runners who come on and raise the tempo into the red for the last 20 minutes.
So far this plan has not worked well – the players who come on and are meant to hit the turbo’s do not do a good job to close out the match, and the Boks let the game slip away. But in theory it is good thinking. Because why must we doubt our bench? Surely they are elite rugby players too? I think what will make a big difference to this strategy is to bring on a more tactical and calm 9 to close the game out. The 9 is so important in that last quarter. More about that later…
Ok to start we first look at the perfect 15 and bench that Heyneke would want on the field in a World Cup final. That will give us a good core, and it will already take 23 players off the table so it make our blerrie job easier! And please remember this is not a “greatest hits” of the best players. It is a puzzle where all the pieces must fit together… and in many cases it is about what players can play multiple roles to allow Heyneke to use more specialists in other areas. You will see what I mean.
9. Du Preez
12. De Villiers
15. Le Roux
Bench – Strauss, Nyakane, Malherbe, P-S Du Toit, Brussouw, Pienaar, Pollard, De Allende.
Surprised? Haha, let us quickly address some questions. First, the Victor debate. I cannot argue with you that Victor is not the most physical lock in the world, but you cannot argue with me that he is not the most influential lineout organiser in the world. More than 25% of tries is scored from lineouts – and teams will kick in the World Cup – so we must have a bullet proof plan to win our own ball and disrupt opposition ball. Finish en klaar. I will also add that even though he is not a bruiser physical presence, he make more tackles than many loose forwards in Super Rugby and play a hell of a lot of minutes. He is fit. And he is a good distributor from inside forward pods, which is a big trend now. Think of Vic more like a 8th man and you will go to sleep happy.
Schalk at 7 instead of Alberts? We have see the lessons of not having a big carrier to punch through when teams shut us down. In that situation you must either kick or carry, especially in trench war of tight knock-out rugby. But if I am honest I think firstly Schalk have showed Heyneke the importance of having finesse in the loose trio and he have played himself into the team on that basis alone. Duane is not a finesse player, and we need someone in the back row to link. Secondly I think we are fine to carry with guys like Duane, Schalk, Etzebeth and Bismarck. Alberts can be a fantastic momentum stopper/getter but we do not know if he is the same player he was.
HEYNEKE’S GOLD OPPORTUNITY
I believe the presence of the rampage young Pieter-Steph as backup lock and blindside flank open up incredible options for Heyneke. With Schalk who can cover 8, and PSdT covering lock and 7, it mean Heyneke have the amazing luxury to have Brussouw on the bench as a specialist 6 who can come on in the last quarter and cause trouble. Heyneke have spoken about importance of breakdown and slowing ball, so I think he will take this puzzle combination hands down.
Scrumhalf? Heyneke have put absolute premium on fitness and have shown very quick willingness to drop players who are not up to scratch (Juan Smith, Jaque Fourie) so if he say Fourie du Preez is ready for rugby then I believe it. On du Preez CV we can see the words “rugby genius” and “kicking genius” so please let us not argue about his inclusion. And he have four pool games to get contact fit. Will he be any less sharp than Ruan is? No. Do we want to throw impulsive and green scrummies like Cobus or Faf into a tight World Cup knock-out game where they will play in a way they are not use to? No.
Next to Fourie I believe we will see Pat. Even though Handre play most of the games this year we forget that Pat was coming back from injury, that Heyneke said he wanted to play Handre back to form after poor Super campaign, and that Heyneke himself have said Pat was first choice all along. Pat is a better tactical as well as goal kicker and at this stage take the right options more than Handre. This cumulative effek of “taking the right options” is a crucial thing to remember. After 10 minutes of “options” you can find yourself either near the opponent tryline or on your own tryline.
CAPTAIN & DEFENSE
Jean is a big question. Will he trust his knee? We have two excellent reasons to take Jean. 1) We see how leadership vacuum cost us in games this year 2) Few rugby players is truly able to organise backline defence. Damian, Jesse and even Frans cannot do it. Jean is a master of it, and he have pool games against Japan, Scotland, USA and Samoa to play himself back in. I think Heyneke will risk it because Jean is such a valuable puzzle piece – to lead the defense and the team.
Damian is a lovely attacker and a strong boy but his positioning in defence is extremely poor. He don’t read well and we see he miss the most tackles of everyone in Super Rugby, often because of this reason! So he definitely cannot play 13. Jesse seem to have a better head for this and have shown beautiful instincts there. If Jean does not go then I think Jan will go as the 12. He is only other natural defence organiser I can think of besides Jaque Fourie. I’m sorry but it is not something everyone can do.
Finally, it seem that Frans Malherbe is our next best specialist 3. Damian have played a lot of wing in his career so he will fill a multiple role over guys like Lwazi or Cornal who is slightly more specialize – we will only have three backs on the bench. Heyneke will want Damian somewhere because on attack he is just too valuable!
Ok so that is the first 23 players done. Now we must look for the last 8 guys. What do we want?
Heyneke have spoke about importance of set-piece and scrumming at RWC and earlier this year said he will probably take 6 props. If that is the case, then he he will choose two specialists, Marcel van der Merwe and Steven Kitshoff. I do not think Coenie will go because he is another player on the “come-back”. The list of “come-backs” already include Jean, du Preez, Pieter-Steph, Alberts and Duane, I honestly do not think Heyneke will take a chance with Coenie as well!
I think Frans Steyn will go as a back up at 10, 12 and 15. Hell, he will maybe even play himself into first choice 15 if he can get back to his best in the pool games! Then we are more than covered at 15 (Jesse or Pat can go there too) and centre (Handre and JP can also go there). We will not take a 3rd specialist 10, so I do not think Morne Steyn will go. It take away other options for Heyneke elsewhere, and anyway Heyneke know exactly what he have in Morne. He can be player 32 in the squad, waiting in S.A. in case of a emergency.
Heyneke will need another outside back and I think Lwazi will be the man – he show his amazing turbo and his stepping against Argentina. Third scrummie will be Paige – no it is not affirmative action. He is more a “like-for-like” replacement for guys like Ruan and Fourie. He have the calm, dictating, momentum style at 9 that we want in test. He is not a nervous impulsive jack-russel type scrummie like Cobus or Faf who thrive in crazy rugby. We see how Cobus panic badly this year when we want him to stay calm and play good options. I do not have the energy to argue! But please believe me Rudy is a better bet in a test. Excellent player and Heyneke knows this. If he get a chance in the pool games he will show us, trust me.
Third hooker must be Schalk Britz. He know the conditions and the playing style and I actually think he is better than Adriaan! His cameo for Boks this year was electricity… watch this space. Then, some teams will only take three locks but Heyneke will take four. Lood will be the fourth as he can play 4 or 5.
And loose forwards? Most teams will only take 5 guys and I think Heyneke will do the same. Many words have been written about what loose-forwards will go. But we must put aside emotion and favourites and think with logic in terms of who specialize in what and what kind of cover do we have. I have look at it like this:
- Duane – 8
- Schalk – 7 & 8
- Louw – 6
- Brussouw – 6
- PSdT – 5 & 7
That is the guys in the match-day team. In terms of cover we see Schalk can play 8, PSdT covers 7 and Heinrich covers 6. So Heyneke have two guys for every position in his match-day team. I do not think he will pass this opportunity! We see why PSdT is a magic key that can unlock the squad for Heyneke.
So who will be his 5th loose forward?
I think it will be a 7 flank. Reason I say it is because even though we have lots of guys who can play on the blindside (including Duane) we do not have a specialist waiting in the wings. More than that, we see how the presense of a flank/lock on the bench unlock possibilities to include a lovely extra specialist 6, so I think Heyneke will look at Alberts or Oupa. Oupa unfortunately did not cover himself in glory this year – he is great but he need to up his physicality to be a real threat at 7. Willem is injury prone and we do not know if he is the Willem we remember… End of day, I think Oupa will get the nod, especial for his lineout ability.
FINAL TEAM OF 31
1 – 3 Beast, Nyakane, Kitshoff
Jannie, Malherbe, Van der Merwe
Bismarck, Strauss, Britz
4 & 5 Eben, Victor, Du Toit, De Jager
6 – 8 Louw, Burger, Vermeulen, Brussouw, Mohoje
9 Du Preez, Pienaar, Paige
10 Lambie, Pollard
12 & 13 De Villiers, Kriel, Allende, Steyn
11 – 15 Habana, Pietersen, Mvovo, Le Roux
GET OUT OF JAIL Something that Heyneke will maybe consider is to take only 5 props, with the powerful Marcel vd Merwe who can cover 1 & 3. That will open another luxury slot for perhaps Alberts (to try him out) or Serfontein (cover for Jean) or Elton as a 3rd 10. Could also include a 6th loosie – allrounder guys for the bench like Marcell (if he is fit) or then Siya.
AGEISM Sorry to disappoint the moaners who say the Boks is too “old”. Average age of this squad is 28. That is the average age of the previous three World Cup winning teams. Blend of experience and youth.
RACISM 7 black players. Not ideal. But it is hard to blame Heyneke when the responsibility of development lie with SARU. He can only reap the seeds they sows… Maybe Elton in place of Frans Steyn will be a possibility? Or if Jean get injured then Elton will go. And no I have not include Damian as a “black” player :)
PROVINCIALISM Sharks – 8, Stormers – 8, Bulls – 7, Free State -3. No Lions unfortunately! They are fantastic, but I’m not sure that Kriel fetch better than Louw or Heinrich, or that Whitely is better than Vermeulen or Burger in trenches. Maybe Elton will go, and that is great. What does Heyneke have against the Free State!? And Eastern Province??! What a terrible person he is ; )
So there it is guys. We will see how right and wrong we all are with our teams! But it is nice to talk about it and it help us understand the Bok machine a bit better. Thank you again to Helene who help me with the web things. See you on twitter on Friday night!
wait guys, one more thing…