The Springbok team, announced yesterday, pleased more people than usual, both from a view of who was selected, and who was left out.
The inclusion of Pat Lambie in place of Zane Kirchner removed the doubts about where (and whether) Heyneke Meyer intended applying his considerable skills. The fact that Lambie is to be a utility player says much about his abilities. Unfortunately we have seen so many promising players eventually fading into nothing as a result of being unable to focus on a specialist position, and trust that young Patrick will rise above this.
Frans Malherbe is another surprise inclusion in place of the Jannie du Plessis ahead of Louwrens Adriaanse, who was part of the test set-up in the Rugby Championship. The Boks will obviously rely heavily on dominance at the set pieces, so selecting Malherbe is a huge vote of confidence from Meyer in the youngster.
Ek kon nie help om binnesmonds te lag toe ek vanoggend lees dat ‘n senior rugbyskrywer in my plaaslike koerant beweer dat die Springbok agterlyn Saterdag geen aanpassingsprobleme sal hê nie, want hulle het in die laaste Wêreldbeker toernooi in 2011 ook saam gespeel. Eisj!
Dit is wel goed om vir JP en Jacque weer terug te hê. Ek glo Lambie se insluiting is juis as gevolg van Pietersen se puik spel onder die hoë bal, waar hy en Habana baie ondersteuning aan Lambie kan gee. Laasgenoemde bied ook heelwat meer op die aanval, sowel as met taktiese skopwerk, as die speler wat hy vervang.
Daar word baie gepraat van die 9 Walliese spelers wat ook in die Leeuspan was in die laaste toets teen Australië. Dit herinner my aan die optimisme wat hier geheers het voor die laaste toets teen die All Blacks. Wallis kan maklik in dieselfde slaggat trap.
Wales will field a formidable side, and boast a lot of confidence after winning the Six-Nations trophy last year. They have not had as much game time as their opponents on Saturday and also not nearly the same calibre of opposition. I suspect that our loose trio will cause a rude awakening for the Scarlets.
For once, my head and my heart agree – the Boks will win on Saturday.
The French somehow manage to conjure up something magic almost every time they take on the All Blacks, and I hope this will again apply on Saturday. The good old days of “French Flair” is no longer, yet it is in their blood to do the unconventional. Still, the All Blacks are just too professional an outfit to allow France to upset their rhythm, and I predict a comfortable win for the Kiwis.
This match should give a clear indication of just how good England is. Argentina did not do too well in the Rugby Championship, although they managed one or two competitive performances against the Boks. England relies as much on forward dominance as does South Africa, and if the Pumas can hold their own here, it should be an interesting tussle, although England has the better backline. I hope the commentary is available in Xhoza, Spanish or Italian or any other language where I will not be forced to listen to the English commentators. If you were to close your eyes, you would think that there is only one team on the field, which makes me wonder why they never win much further than they normally do.
The other matches
Scotland should see off Japan quite easily, and Australia no doubt looks forward to an easier match against Italy. They will do well to look at Italy’s last matches in the Six-Nations – these guys are no longer the walkovers they once were. If the Aussies lose this one too, there will be nowhere to hide for their Australian coach.
At last we saw a better batting performance yesterday, with Faf and the “predikant” finally contributing in a positive manner. It was a bit rough on Parnell, being dropped after winning the man of the match award in his previous game, but that is the nature of the game, I suppose.
Having become rather cynical about the lack of consistency in our one-day side, I predict that being 2-1 up probably means that they will allow Pakistan back in the next test.
Does anyone have contact details for a reliable Indian bookmaker?