Deysel must beef up Boks

2011-07-26 00:00

CAPE TOWN — Like the plumber who inexplicably forgets how to fix an elementary leak to a cistern, Springbok rugby is in some danger of losing its time-honoured reputation for brute strength and bodies-on-the-line commitment.

He can’t and won’t suddenly be the permanent answer to their prayers, but Sharks iron man Jean Deysel must be summoned to the starting XV with some urgency as the South African second-stringers attempt to be more competitive against New Zealand than they were against Australia.

There was a time — not even very long ago — that you might reasonably have even expected a virtual Bok dirt-tracker side to be physical masters or at least equals of the Wallabies.

Not any more, it seems.

No wonder Rocky Elsom used the opportunity after Saturday’s one-sided Castle Tri-Nations affair in Sydney to rub salt into Bok wounds, gleefully trumpeting,“There is only one scenario. The one team overpowers the other physically and they win the Test match. The other team comes second. We overpowered them.”

Those words hurt, but they were also on the button.

The Boks need to respond in Wellington, and Deysel must be handed a maiden start to give that backlash quest some teeth.

Deysel (26) boasts just two bursts of Test activity off the bench: on Saturday when he played a commendable part when the Boks momentarily found their second wind ahead of the final whistle, and previously in 2009, when he got half an hour in the 32-10 victory over Italy in Udine.

An obvious gap may be appearing anyway, with South African locks succumbing to injury at an alarming rate in recent days.  Veteran Danie Rossouw seems a sure-fire bet to switch from blindside flank to lock to at least give the second row an element of experience.

There is some relief for Bok supporters on that front, with reports from New Zealand suggesting that the All Blacks plan to rest their evergreen enforcer Brad Thorn at Wellington this week, which will be weclome news to the Boks.

But even in the unlikely event that Rossouw doesn’t vacate the number seven jersey, there is a strong case for saying that Deysel could be accommodated on the less familiar open side, adding much-needed grunt to the pack collectively even if he is not a specialist fetcher.

At least the Virginia-born player might enhance the possibility of some go-forward in the tight-loose, and he is probably capable of playing “to the ball” in pretty much the manner of staple A-teamer Schalk Burger, who boasts reasonably similar physical credentials and relish in contact.

Deon Stegmann was largely ineffectual at number six once again, confessing — even after several prior Test starts — that he was caught a little unawares by the pace of Tri-Nations rugby. In fairness, the Bulls man made a few vital, perhaps unseen tackles against Australia on a day when the greater Bok defensive script went lamentably awol.

But Stegmann has simply never produced the required oomph at international level you want of your open-sider, and it is almost certainly time for remedial action.

Heinrich Brussow is said to be “very close” to full combat, but it may be naive to imagine that, lacking game-time over several months, the nippy Free Stater is up for a start against the All Blacks at this stage.

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