It was Jack Benny who said: “Give me golf clubs, fresh air and a beautiful partner, and you can keep the clubs and the fresh air.”
It will take one seriously good looking person to keep me away from the box this weekend.
In fact, the weekend started last night when the Baby Boks destroyed the US of A’s best. This morning the Proteas face India, who had two excellent warm-up games. With Dale Steyn a doubtful starter, and no Vernon Philander, it is going to be a huge ask. The influence of winning the toss on the outcome of warm-up games indicates an unfair advantage to the team batting second. Let’s hope that AB has better luck than Graham Smith.
Our man Federer is out of the French Open (his mum is a local lass), so my support now switches to whoever plays Nadal. I have nothing against the man himself – it is just that all the females in my house swoon over everything he does. I must also admit my liking for Novak Djocovic because he has a wonderful sense of humour. He is playing Nadal in the semi-final, and I hope to see him in the final, too.
The highlight, of course, is the test on Saturday. Italy beat France and Ireland in the Six Nations this year, and has adopted a far more open style of play. This could of course work in our favour, particularly with the SA back three capable of counter-attacking.
Heyneke Meyer said that he will not restrict Willie le Roux’s flair by expecting him to adopt a conservative approach. This has certainly moved Meyer up a notch or two in my estimation.
Something else I like is that he chose established combinations in key positions, with most of these players coming from the Bulls. Morné Steyn, Jano Vermaak and Pierre Spies know each other’s style of play so well from their experience at Super 15 level, as does Bryan Habana and Bjorn Basson when Steyn kicks. If Jan Serfontein gets a chance as substitute, his regular centre partner is already there. Maybe Heyneke should have picked a few more Bulls players?
The same cannot be said for the forwards, although most of the players know each other well from previous Springbok outings. A concern is the Beast facing Martin Castrogiovanni, also known as Samson, but with Strauss in the number two jersey, I suspect he will fare better than Gurthro Steenkamp did in the last outing where we faced the Italian strongman.The loose trio points to physical rugby, not fairy stuff, and I suspect that this is where the Italians may come short. I expect the Latin temperament to flare when the heat is on, but here, too, we should have the upper hand, although I would have liked to have Schalk Britz on the bench when this happens. In case this puzzles you, please click here.
Hopefully, the full Samoan team, despite the little time available to practice, will give a better account of themselves than against the Lions. The Scots are also somewhat depleted, with their top players touring Australia with the B & I Lions, but they should win the curtain raiser.
The Reds included nine Wallabies in their team to play the Lions on Saturday. Possibly the biggest attraction will be to see if Quade Cooper can convince Robbie Deans to include him in the final Australian squad. With the incumbent Wallaby scrumhalf also his Reds team mate, I think Deans will have to find a better excuse than Cooper’s poor defence to exclude him. If the Wallabies do take a pounding at the hands of the Lions, and Cooper did not play, it may just be the end of Deans as coach of the Australian national side.
Nou toe manne. Dis nou amper tyd vir die krieket om te begin. My deur is toe, my foon van die mik af, en die Drifta is vernuftig aan my rekenaar gekoppel. Sien julle Maandag.