BIG debate – Hougaard or De Klerk?

Allister Coetzee dropped Faf de Klerk from the matchday squad last week, and must now decide whether he’s going to reverse that move or redeploy starting left wing Francois Hougaard at No 9.

In this week’s BIG Debate, Tank Lanning and Zelím Nel see Coetzee’s dilemma from opposite ends of the spectrum:

Tank Lanning

The Bok selection strategy looks far too muddled and lacking in planning for my liking, so why add to that mud by moving your current left wing to scrumhalf?

Francois Hougaard is an incredibly talented rugby player, and has benefitted hugely from stints with the Blitzboks and Worcester in the UK, but is now being wasted as yet another of the Bok utility players that seem to be the flavour of the day.

Ask Brent Russell and Ruan Pienaar how that worked out for them …

I am a strong believer in specialists, hence my apoplexy when coaches try and switch loosehead props into tightheads just because they are seemingly better round the park.

So what the Boks need at scrumhalf is a specialist. And that man is Faf de Klerk, who until very recently was not only lighting up Vodacom Super Rugby, but also the leading light in a Bok side that was looking more confused than a chameleon on rainbow!

Yes his Lions partner in crime, Elton Jantjies, has lost the battle with top flight rugby, but why should that spell the end of De Klerk’s international career? In fact, I see him benefitting from the calming influence of a Morne Steyn as his half back partner.

Also, after being left out of the 23 man squad for Rudy Paige last week, imagine what shifting Hougaard to scrumhalf ahead of him this week would do to De Klerk’s confidence? It’s that kind of player mismanagement that gets tongues wagging in the team ping pong room, infiltrating general team morale and confidence.

PS – I do think Hougaard’s best position is scrumhalf, and that he should specialise in it, making himself available to the Boks in only that position. This utility tag will hurt his career in the long run.

CLICK HERE to see what Zelím Nel had to say in Vodacom Rugby’s BIG debate.