Wilco should be Bok 3

Wilco Louw should be starting at tighthead prop for the Boks on Saturday says Tank Lanning in his All Out Rugby column, but given coach Allister Coetzee’s lack of bench prowess, he probably won’t be there.

Tank Lanning

Wilco Louw should be starting at tighthead prop for the Boks on Saturday.

And while he may well still do so, it’s highly unlikely. So the Boks miss out. This, in my humble opinion, due to misuse of the bench and poor player management.

Following Coenie Oosthuizen’s injury, this after the long term neck injuries suffered by Julian Redelinghuys and Frans Malherbe, tighthead prop is a position that should have been thought through very carefully.

There is a reason Jannie du Plessis and Lourens Adriaanse are paid the salaries they deserve overseas for doing little more than scrum!

Already understocked, coach Allister Coetzee’s first error was to pick a second retreaded loosehead in Trevor Nyakane as his reserve tighthead. A poor call made worse given that Coetzee clearly does not trust him to start – he was leapfrogged by Ruan Dreyer when Oosthuizen got injured.

Dreyer was then found wanting against the All Blacks in the Albany hammering (the reasons for which are for another column, but it was pretty clear that it was not going to be a quick fix), but instead of making a change against the Aussies last week, he gave both Dreyer and Nyakane another shot.

This while Louw – one of the form Super Rugby tightheads – was making merry on the WP bench at Loftus.

Against an Australian pack renowned for having to come up with tricks in order to combat their lacking of scrumming prowess, surely giving Louw 30 minutes off the bench was the way to go? Perhaps also an opportunity to give Nyakane a start?

How else does one learn about the player’s capabilities at this level?

Instead, the Boks now head into the prime home Test against the All Blacks very precariously positioned at tighthead. If Coetzee drops Dreyer, can he really leapfrog Nyakane again with Louw? My word that would be poor form. And if he starts Nyakane with Louw on the bench, how does he explain his choice of Test to do so?

Rock and a hard place …

While I wish this column was only about tighthead props and scrumming, I use the above example to raise a concern about Coetzee’s use of the bench, and his ability to grow squad depth.

After vociferously defending Handre Pollard’s readiness to play international rugby, Coetzee has given the Bulls pivot all of 23 minutes of game time! None of which were on Saturday in a game crying out for some straight running off a flyhalf taking the ball flat.

Chiliboy Ralepelle also suffered an egg against the Aussies, this after replacing Bongi Mbonambi on the bench, who prior to Saturday, had enjoyed just 34 minutes of rugby in 4 Tests.

Centre Damian de Allende has played just 35 minutes of rugby in this year’s tournament.

“How much do you bench Rudy?” asks Arnold Schwarzenegger on a Twitter meme … “80 minutes” comes the reply from the ever smiling Paige. Not far off. Five minutes on Saturday for 49 in total while Ross Cronje and Francois Hougaard rotated ahead of him.

141 minutes across 4 positions in 5 Tests. That is 7 minutes per position per game.

This while most coaches are trusting the bench to inject some much needed Vooma in the last 20 minutes of a Test, and grow squad depth by giving exciting young players some invaluable Test experience via the less pressurised later entry to the game.

I know Coetzee has many, many fish to fry, and I really do applaud his want to get the Boks playing a more ball in hand brand of rugby (good on you, Oom Rugby, for raising this), but my oath, this aspect of his resource management currently leaves a lot to be desired.


  1. The poor use of a bench or at least some of the players on it, points to players being chosen not because they are the best to be there, but because they are chosen for other reasons but merit. The coach then do not have the confidance to use them!

  2. We are adding players to the bench to make up numbers, Dreyer leapfrogging Trevor proves this. Now with Cassiem out Allister is not going to get near the required 40% if he selects Wilco. According to netwerk24 he also wants to give Kitshoff a start so I don’t see Wilco getting a chance. Its a shame, we need bench players who can make an impact on the game and not just play a meaningless 5min at the end. Think what impact guys like Faf, Akkers vd Merwe, RJVR could make in 20-30min!

  3. Chuffed to see Wilco on the bench … In effect, Allister saved by Beast’s withdrawal … Nyakane back to his normal position makes so much more sense. Not convinced re PSdT on the flank and less convinced about going into an All Black test without a specialist No 8 …

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