The Springboks may have finished their Rugby Championship campaign strongly with three wins in a row but it can’t mask the fact Jacques Nienaber’s team didn’t perform up to standard over the six games.
The Boks’ inconsistency was hugely disappointing over the course of the competition and Nienaber will have to look into why they cannot perform consistently at a high level. They should really have won all their matches.
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They have the class, the experience, the combinations, the coaches … everything, yet the Boks do not seem to know how to play to their full potential and fire on all cylinders every time they run on to the field.
This will be a worry for the team and hopefully it gets sorted out quickly because I am of the opinion that if the Boks find consistency in their performance they will be able to stay out in front of the rest for some time to come; they have the potential to be very, very dominant in the world game.
10 and 13
The big positive over the competition is how the Boks have grown their depth among the forwards. They are in good nick here and the competition for places is fierce. Heck, guys like Evan Roos and Elrigh Louw are only on the fringes and Nama Xaba, Phepsi Buthulezi and Vincent Tshituka haven’t even had a look-in yet, while there is a ton of talent in the front and second rows.
But, it is at 10 and 13 where the Boks look very thin. There are a few young flyhalves doing the rounds, who I’d like to see get a chance on the November tour, even if only to learn and familiarise themselves with the Boks.
But there are not too many guys at 13 who’re sticking up their hands for a chance and this must be worrying for the Bok coaches. Perhaps they have identified one or two players? Let’s hope so.
Turning to the United Rugby Championship, how awesome it has been to see the South African teams start so well.
A year ago, alarm bells were ringing, but right now it is the SA teams who are looking settled and dominant. They have certainly found their feet in this competition and look very much at home. All the issues of last year, like the problems they experienced with the interpretation of the referees and how the breakdown is blown, are now things of the past. And long may it continue.
The Lions, however, need a big campaign. They’ve started with plenty of promise but need to build on that now and become a real force and factor in the competition.
There are a few rounds in the URC to be played before the Boks head to Europe and there’s now a chance for a few players to perhaps impress Nienaber and Co. And this will be their last chance to push for recognition at a higher level because once the Boks return from Europe in November, Nienaber will probably have his players’ names penciled in for the World Cup defence next year.