Missing a routine restart

2014-04-20 15:00

An enduring image of Sharks wing-turned-fullback Lwazi Mvovo in a Springbok jersey was missing a routine restart that led to an Australian try in a Rugby Championship clash in Perth in September 2012.

Mvovo has not featured for the Boks since that 26-19 defeat.

It led to him being fingered as suspect under the high ball, a fear that former Springbok winger Kaya Malotana said has more than been allayed with his impressive performances at fullback.

The gamble was first taken three weeks ago against the Waratahs, where the Sharks prevailed 32-10.

“People just honed in on that aspect to justify their rubbish about him as nobody properly evaluated him under the high ball. You can’t judge a player by just a few mistakes,” Malotana said.

“Under the same circumstances, Zane Kirchner was subjected to the same criticism, but he came through. Mvovo has shown himself to be very adequate under the high ball, as per most Super Rugby fullbacks.”

However, Malotana was quick to point out that Mvovo was not yet in the Bok frame, but said he was happy with Sharks’ director of rugby Jake White’s willingness to pull a rabbit out of the hat and surprise with selections.

Malotana said the looming four-match tour to Australasia will gauge where Mvovo stands as a fullback.

“Jake is one of those coaches who invests in X-Factor players who complement his slow strangulation game plan. Lwazi is not the only one, but the game plan allows for such latitude. Jake has shown confidence in him and that is coming out now through his performance,” Malotana said.

“The tour will be a tough test of what he is made of and if he has Bok aspirations, they will be determined by how he fares in New Zealand. He’ll be put under pressure by sides who know his ­counter-attacking abilities and kick less.”

Eastern Province Kings Vodacom Cup coach Mzwandile Stick also credited White for giving Mvovo game time, but also for his out of the box thinking in terms of employing three fullbacks in the back three to guide Mvovo.

Springboks JP Pietersen and Odwa Ndungane have a combined 200-plus Super Rugby caps, experience that Stick says has helped Mvovo settle quickly at 15.

“The seniors have played in the position and know what is required to succeed in it, which I think has accelerated Mvovo’s development. They are working well together,” Stick said.

“The two-fullback tactic is something that Jake has adopted from Australasia and it is working for him. Having Lwazi at 15 now means he can be shunted anywhere in the back three, which can only enhance his Bok claims.”

One facet that Stick is not too happy with in Mvovo’s skillset is his kicking game, which he says is too conservative for Bok coach Heyneke Meyer’s liking.

“If you compare him to Zane, who was dependent on playing the safe game, Lwazi does not kick too much and he was also not bred under the Bulls kicking culture. It won’t be easy for him.”

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