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Oiling the Rusty Nails

South Africa, for once, outplayed the All Blacks by clicking into top gear in their opening match of the season, unlike the Kiwis who sputtered like an engine requiring a major service.

The Kiwis may have been the victims of both early season rust and overconfidence, but have done themselves no favours by not denting England’s confidence while they had the chance. The fact that the English will be bolstered by a number of key players arriving this week may just inject a lot more interest in this test series than there was before Saturday.

The emergence of a more balanced approach to the game by the Boks that we saw last year continued in the second half on Saturday. Play makers Habana and Le Roux relished the opportunity to unleash their creativity, and it’s been a while since I last enjoyed a game of rugby as much as I did this one against the World XV.

Naturally, there are concerns as well – I would not be a Bok supporter if I felt that there were none. Most commentators reflected on the problems in the scrums, and Nick Mallet also warned against complacency about the line-outs, where we only stole one. No doubt the presence of Juandré Kruger gave the visitors an advantage that few other teams will have against Victor and Bakkies, so I am not overly worried about this.

We saw the Sharks front row pummelled on a few occasions in Super 15 matches, so this did not come as a major surprise. Die gees is gewillig, maar die vlees is bietjie pap. Coenie Oosthuizen het goed gedoen as reserwe, en die feit dat die hervormde Trevor Nyakane by die groep ingesluit is, kan dalk ‘n aanduiding wees dat Jannie du Plessis en Beast se werklas in die toetse verlig gaan word deur hulle vroeër te vervang as gewoonlik.

This should also apply to other exhausted players like Alberts, JP Pietersen and Frans Steyn. If we are going to ascend to the heights of the All Blacks, we need to blood replacements who are as good as the incumbents. I read somewhere over the weekend that ships may look great in the harbour, but that is not why they were built.

A rejuvenated Schalk Burger, Jan Serfontein and Juan de Jongh will not let the side down. The thought of the forceful Welsh centre, Jamie Roberts may just concern our national coach enough to retain the biggest possible midfield pairing for the test on Saturday. If that reasoning applies throughout, then he will have to consider that in all other positions, too. Die Walliesers is groot bulle, manne.

The most interesting article I read this weekend was one written by Brendan Venter on the planning done by Heyneke and his team during the Super 15 series. While we mere mortals rock up for the day, Meyer and his team leave little to chance. They even study the decisions by the TMOs these days!

Click here to read Venter’s thought provoking article.

Junior Boks

Dawie Theron selected his strongest available starting line-up for his side’s final pool match against Samoa on Tuesday in Pukekohe. The match at the Ecolight Stadium will kick off at 07h35 SA time and will be televised live on SuperSport.

“They showed against New Zealand and Scotland they can be dangerous and we have prepared very well for this match. We want to make sure we qualify for the semi-finals and will play our best team because this is now our most important match.”

“We have done our homework very thoroughly and will leave nothing to chance. This is a very tough tournament to compete in, so you have to be at your best in each match,” said Dawie Theron.

After the delight of their thrashing of the Baby Blacks, I suspect I may be a little late for work tomorrow.

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