Bok player ratings …

Tank Lanning

Played 1, won 1 … The Boks, and new coach Heyneke Meyer, passed this test with flying colours.

It was not all pretty, especially in the first half when the Boks were kicking the ball away (mostly inaccurately), losing the one on one contact situations, and getting particularly ponderous service from Francois Hougaard, meaning they were on the back foot for a lot of the 40 minutes.

But in a game of two vastly different styles, the Boks chose to keep ball in hand in the second half, making yards in the contact situation, taking the ball through plenty of phases, and bringing in the individual skills of players like Hougaard (in broken play), Pienaar, Habana and Lambie.

Helped hugely by the impressive performance from the pack, the Boks dominated both the scrum and the lineout, and benefitted hugely from a seriously impressive performance of Willem Alberts, who carried the ball well and caused a fair amount of destruction on defence.

Captained very well by the impressive Jean de Villiers, I just hope that Meyer learns a little from this second half, taking note of how impressive the best 22 players in South Africa can be when allowed to keep ball in hand rather than just chase box kicks …

Of course the first half was the first 40 minutes these 15 guys had played together … EVER … So of course it was going to take some time to gel …
My player ratings:

15 Zane Kirchner – 6
Nothing massively untoward, but then nothing hugely exciting either. Took the ball out the air nicely, but played in the half when the Boks were at their worst, getting particularly slow ball, and losing the one on one contact battles.
14 JP Pietersen – 6
Did not get a lot of ball to work with, but then also seemed not to go out and look for it. Nice pass to his skipper, who got in for a try.

13 Jean de Villiers – 8
“Captain courageous … Bleeding for your country” Bring on the clichés as this man deserves them. Up against it trying to contain Manu Tuilagi, and took a few body blows doing so. Scored the final try, and part of the half time team talk that turned the team around.

12 Frans Steyn – 6.5
As physical as ever, he made a few strong runs with ball in hand, and seemed to marshal the defence relatively well. Still tends to hold onto the ball when it should go, and definitely aims for the man rather than the space.

11 Bryan Habana – 9
Welcome back! Chased the kicks superbly, putting England under enormous pressure, and  his industrious nature also paid off with ball in hand. Made a few top breaks using his electric pace and good stepping.

10 Morné Steyn – 6
Sans the usually metronomic goal kicking, Steyn then becomes a competent rather than game breaking international flyhalf.

9 Francois Hougaard – 5
The man is gifted with a talent seldom seen, and to my mind, has the potential to be a world class scrumhalf. He did his usual game breaking stuff in the tight-loose, but from the base, he was just too slow, and his kicks were not accurate enough – and those are a scrumhalf’s basics.

8 Pierre Spies – 5
Carried the ball better than in the past, was effective as a lineout option, but did not smash people back in the tackle, and needs to make more yards with ball in hand.

7 Willem Alberts – 9
A meneer performance form the “bone Collector” – one that got him the official Man of the Match, which is difficult to argue. Giant both on attack and defence, he seemed to operate better in the more structured Test arena, where he could dominate a channel.

6 Marcell Coetzee – 7
Had massive boots to fill, and put in a debut that he can be proud of. Certainly played a traditional open side role, leaving the carrying to his loose forward partners, so has to be compared to Heinrich Brussow.

5 Juandré Kruger – 7
Solid if not spectacular debut. Handled the immense pressure of being the lineout general with aplomb. Will grow into this role.

4 Eben Etzebeth – 7.5
More than solid debut for the youngster, who was more than happy to “mix it” on the more physical side of the game. Took good lineout ball, tackled well. Repaid the deserved faith his coach had in him.

3 Jannie du Plessis – 7
Brilliant run down the middle of the pitch that will see the Front Row Club deliberating his membership long into the week. Solid scumming performance in the key number 3 jersey, that saw the Boks dominate.

2 Bismarck du Plessis – 7
At least one crucial steal, just the one lost lineout, part of a front row that dominated, and abrasive round the park. Also managed to keep his discipline.

1 Beast Mtawarira – 7.5
Took the obligatory scrum penalty that every loosehead has to take these days, but was powerful come scrum time, easily handling the much talked about Dan Cole. Good support in the lineouts and kick ins, perhaps needs to carry just a little better.

Bench (these ratings based on the player’s ability to make an impact):
16 Adriaan Strauss – 8
Part of a very powerful scrumming display in the second half, and made the necessary impact

17 Coenie Oosthuizen – 9
Massively impressive, as seemed to handle playing at tighthead when on for Jannie, something I questioned going into the Test, then was hugely influential when on for Beast.

18 Flip van der Merwe – 6.5
Solid, but unspectacular

20 Ruan Pienaar – 8.5
Played a big role in the “Change up” seen from the Boks in the second half. Clearly a man in control of his game at the moment.

21 Pat Lambie – 8
Did get to play the half which saw the Boks actually using the ball they got, rather than kicking it away, and this suited the seriously talented fullback’s style. He duly contributed.

Not enough time on the park to warrant a rating:
19 Keegan Daniel
22 Wynand Olivier


And finally … The JWC Fixtures for Tuesday 12 June:

14:45 Argentina vs Scotland, University of Western Cape
16:45 Wales vs Samoa, University of Western Cape
18:45 New Zealand vs Fiji, University of Western Cape
14:45 Ireland vs Italy, Cape Town Stadium
16:45 France vs Australia, Cape Town Stadium
18:45 South Africa vs England, Cape Town Stadium

NB: Note the change in venue to Cape Town Stadium due to the Danie Craven pitch being waterlogged. The semifinals and final will be played at Newlands.

Junior Springbok team: 15. Dillyn Leyds (Western Province), 14. Paul Jordaan (KZN), 13. William Small-Smith (Blue Bulls), 12. Jan Serfontein (Blue Bulls), 11. Pat Howard (Western Province), Handrè Pollard ( Western Province), 9. Vian van der Watt (Golden Lions), 8. Fabian Booysen (Golden Lions), 7. Wiaan Liebenberg (Blue Bulls, captain), 6. Shaun Adendorff (Blue Bulls), 5. Ruan Botha (Golden Lions), 4. Paul Willemse (Golden Lions), 3. Oliver Kebble (Western Province), 2. Jason Thomas (Blue Bulls), 1. Steven Kitshoff (Western Province)
Bench:16. Mark Pretorius (Golden Lions), 17. Allan Dell (KZN), 18. Pieter Steph du Toit (KZN), 19. Braam Steyn (KZN), 20. Abrie Griesel (Blue Bulls), 21. Tony Jantjies (Blue Bulls), 22. Tshotsho Mbovane (Western Province), 23. Maks van Dyk (KZN)

JWC Semi final teams: to consist of the three pool winners and the team in second place in their pool with most competition points. It’s going to be very tight in the Baby Bok pool, and with the Kiwis having gone down to Wales, second place in Pool A is going to be very well placed! The Boks almost have to win with a bonus point ..

Current standings:

Pool A
Wales Pld:2 W:2 Pts:9
New Zealand Pld:2 W:1 Pts:6
Fiji Pld:2 W:1 Pts:4
Samoa Pld:2 W:0 Pts:0
Pool B
England Pld:2 W:2 Pts:9
South Africa Pld:2 W:1 Pts:6
Ireland Pld:2 W:1 Pts:5
Italy Pld:2 W:0 Pts:0

Pool C
Argentina Pld:2 W:2 Pts:8
France Pld:2 W:1 Pts:6
Australia Pld:2 W:1 Pts:5
Scotland Pld:2 W:0 Pts:1

Ranking at the Conclusion of the Pool Phase:

Teams will be ranked 1 to 4, based on their cumulative Match points. If two or more Teams are level on Match points, then the following criteria shall be used to determine the higher ranked:

(i) the winner of the Match in which the two tied Teams have played each other shall be the higher ranked;

(ii) the Team which has the best difference between points scored for and points scored against in all its Pool Matches shall be the higher ranked;

(iii) the Team which has the best difference between tries scored for and tries scored against in all its Pool Matches shall be the higher ranked;

(iv) the Team which has scored most points in all its Pool Matches shall be the higher ranked;

(v) the Team which has scored most tries in all its Pool Matches shall be the higher ranked; and

(vi) if none of the above produce a result, then it will be resolved with a toss of a coin.


  1. Agree with you on most ratings Tank. I think you’re being overly harsh on Frans Steyn, although so surprise there 😉

    I do have to wonder if Johan Goosen would have ended up in this team before the end of this series had he not been injured. Imagine this back line with him at number 10! Your thoughts on that?

    1. Ha Ha … I do aim to be objective … and base my thoughts on a player in general, on actual performances, rather than the other way round 🙂

      Would have been good to have seen Goosen play for the Baby Boks … Tony Jantjies is a bit like his brother – close but no cigar … And then perhaps he would have played his way into the Bok side, but when (and there is no if) Steyn finds his kicking boots, he is a machine flyhalf at Test level …

    2. BTW – Paul Ackford’s rating of Frans Steyn: Practises by running through brick walls then tries to do the same in the game. 6

      1. No offense Tank, but Paul Ackford’s ‘anti saffa rants’ are hardly anything to go by. If I did not know any better I might suspect him to be Kitchener on the Sport24 blogs.

        I know you’re right about Steyn though. Just having a dig as I know where you stand on him generally.

    3. Goosens time will come. He must be shuffled into the 22: A backline bench should be Pienaar, Aplon and Goosen (or Basson). Wynand Olivier and Kirchener will add little value coming on in the last 20/30 min.

      Agree with Tank regarding gameplan. Chip and chase type tactics will be hopeless against better teams and genuine attacking sides like AB’s – and then what? Boks will self destruct ala Bulls (when they are dominated up front and shown to have no Plan B / ability to think creatively and adapt a new gameplan).

      Relying on brute strength alone is myopic, boring and brainless. With all the territory, possession and pressure exerted by the Boks in the 2nd half, we should have won by 20+

      1. Brian, agree completely. That is where I think Goosen will be dynamite. I think he is the key to unlocking South Africa’s attacking potential. The attacking capability is there in the players … it’s simply lost in the game plan.

        1. Goosen will be the next world cup no10, lets just hope that he will come back as he was after the injury… We’ve seen many players never been quite the same after injuries – Spies is the first to come to mind.

          Morne will have his kicking boots in right place on SAT and will still be the 1st choice Flyhalf for quite some time.

  2. Hi Tank, I agree with most of your ratings. I’m concerned about Hougaard – he is not a natural kicker and therefore both Steyns should do most of the kicking. If HM wants to play the kicking game, then Pienaar is the man for the 9 shirt. Hougaard can surely add value during the last 30 minutes when the game is a bit more lose (I want him to start but his play at no 9 is unfortunatelynot up to standard).
    Do you have any idea about the state of Jacques Potgieter’s fitness? If he is fit, I’ll pick Jacques at 7 and move Alberts to 8.
    I have shared my thoughts about Coenie in the previous thread – I have to agree with your thoughts about the frontrow. I’m very pleased with Adriaan Strauss’ selection on the bench. He’ll be the starting hooker in many international teams (had he played in another country). I still don’t know what Olivier is doing there.
    I’ll definitely pick Lambie instead of Zane.

  3. Agree with all, except Flip and Etsebeth. Thought Juandre was more involved in the tight loose than Eben. Played well together though.

  4. Potgieter is fit as far as I am aware, but there is no way I would pick Alberts at 8. Did you see him play there for the Sharks? Messy. He is not built for the pick and go from the base. 7 is perfect for him and he went well. Don’t change what aint broke 🙂 Spies is hacking, but bottom line is that there is not anyone pushing for his place, and he at least did a little more than in recent times on Saturday.

    1. Tank I have just watched the game again and my biggest disappointment came from Spies. If I counted correct he only got over the advantage line a couple of times, but generally went down like a sack of potatoes can the man not stay on his feet and fight a bit he seems to give up as soon as someone touches him defiantly not the Spies of old.

      1. Agreed. It’s an issue. Meyer sees Daniel as an open sider and still did not give him much time on Saturday, so Spies basically has no competition in SA at the moment

        1. Vermeulen will luckily be there for the 4 nations.. I still hope that Spies get back to his old fantastic form as we remember him 2 years ago. As a die hard Bulls supporter it would be most useful in Loftus as well…

  5. I am repeating myself, but once again it is a pleasant change to be able to read peoples opinions and thoughts without anyone getting personal and abusive. Tank, I believe it is a compliment to you and the discussion/debate that you initiate. It seems to me that the rugby followers come onto this site. Long may it continue whether a persons team wins or loses.

  6. Hi Tank

    Great objective points of view. Spies still not showing signs of the promise some years back. What an oppotunity for a host of players to put their hands up. Not convinced that Keegan Daniel is the one. Pinaar seems to have found a bit of life and as mentioned maybe should start him and end with the fiesty Hougaard. Lambie in my opinion is a supurb reader of the game and can hold up in many positions should be on the field. In all viewing the New Zealand game earlier in the day still feel we have some way to go to challenge the Blacks.

  7. I agree with all the sentiments expressed about Spies – I don’t think he has even looked like a good CC No8 and is even worse as a leader – one has to feel for Duane Vermeulen. Tank, why do you think Josh Strauss is not fitting into HM’s plans – to me he is a HM type of loosie – big, strong, good at the back of the scrum as well as line outs and covers a lot of ground.

    1. I tend to agree with Meyer on this … Strauss not ready for International rugby yet, and to be honest, might never be … Industrious for sure, and great CC player, but not massively effective even at S15 level

  8. ‘Did not smash people back in the tackle’

    Tank, I think you have Pierre Spies confused for an 8th man. You might want to watch that in future reviews, otherwise very nice piece.

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