Spot on with the both the Kirchner selection and the blunt force trauma approach up front, perhaps the key learning for Heyneke Meyer is that Bok flair can be added out wide says Tank Lanning in his eNCA.com column.
Could Heyneke Meyer have been more right?
I questioned the selection of Zane Kirchner in the build up to the Test as I thought it reflective of a return to a boring kick and chase gameplan. But it was a masterstroke in that it took the pressure off Wille le Roux, allowing him to use his undoubted attacking skills from wing, safe in the knowledge that Kirchner would the minister of safety alongside him.
Perhaps Cheetahs coach Naka Drotske also deserves a little credit given that this is what they did all Super Rugby season, using Hennie Daniller at fullback and Le Roux on the wing. Either way, it was a good call, and perhaps the lesson learnt is that wing does seem a good place to introduce some flair into the Bok game.
With teams loath to take the ball wide in the first few phases given the rush defence and difficulty in retaining possession should a breakdown happen far away from the forwards, wing is fast becoming a position least influenced by defensive capability. Sure you need to be good under the high ball, and you cannot be the proverbial rotating door in the tackle, but together with a safe fullback, wing is where counter attacks are born.
And your options are either the blunder buss Jonah Lomu type tackle busters, or the lighter, more fleet footed Willie le Roux type wings who will look to spark something with guile, speed and quick feet. Next stop Cheslin Kolbe?
Where Meyer also got it spot on, was the blunt force trauma approach up front, with the selections of Bismarck du Plessis and Flip van der Merwe being tailor made for ripping off the Australian pack’s arm and beating it into submission with the soggy end! The Bok scrum was a thing of pure beauty as it destroyed the Wallaby pack, and power performances from all three looseforwards meant the Boks also bossed the breakdown, starving the Wallabies of any sort of quality ball.
It was a classic case of “Maak sag voor”, before unleashing the backline.
Let us not kid ourselves though. Australia were dreadful. Their “Give the ball to Israel Folau and see what he can do” gameplan was laughable, as was the non-selection of prop Benn Robinsonn, and selection of Quade Cooper, who quite simply, is not an international flyhalf. Perhaps they also felt the injury to James Horwill more keenly than expected, both as a captain, and as a player. Welcome to Test rugby Ewen McKenzie …
Hugely encouraging from the Boks, but still a little ponderous in the first half. Bring on the All Blacks at Eden Park as the true test of where this team is at …
In closing, given that I questioned the red carding of Griquas lock Rory Arnold in my column last week … He has now been cleared to resume playing after his appeal against a conviction for biting (for which he was given a 7 match ban) was overturned by a SARU disciplinary committee yesterday. So he was given a red card against the Cheetahs and was forced to sit out the entire game against the Lions on the weekend for something he did not do. This based on “Conclusive” evidence seen by TMO Gerrie Coetzee … Surely it is only fair for Griquas to seek some recourse, and for Coetzee to be sanctioned? What an embarrassing shambles …