Pienaar is still the better flyhalf

2009-08-04 00:00

COACH Peter de Villiers has no injury concerns and Ruan Pienaar is expected to return to the Springbok match day squad of 22 for Saturday’s Tri-Nations Test against the Wallabies at Newlands.

Pienaar, with a slight ankle injury, missed Saturday’s international against the All Blacks in Durban and, in his absence, flyhalf Morné Steyn booted himself into the record books with 31 points.

It might be sacrilege to suggest this just a couple of days after Steyn’s remarkable one-man display, but Pienaar remains the better all-round flyhalf and will return sooner rather than later.

For the moment, though, Steyn is top of the pops and Pienaar seems certain to be on the bench on Saturday.

His ability to cover Fourie du Preez at the base of the scrum should, logically, see him displace Ricky Januarie, but De Villiers is unlikely to omit either the Western Province scrumhalf or the Sharks’ Adrian Jacobs and it may well be the luckless Bulls centre Wynand Olivier who drops out of the current 23-man Bok squad.

There must be some concern at the Springboks’ lack of cohesion and creativity on attack and wings Bryan Habana and JP Pietersen have spent two Tests chasing kicks and making tackles.

In spite of their superb pressure-play, and camping on the New Zealand line for long periods, the Boks scored only one try on Saturday and that was the result of a messy All Black scrum.

De Villiers admitted yesterday that the Springboks’ attacking play was disappointing.

“Although the margins of victory over the All Blacks looked good on the scoreboard, it wasn’t that comfortable.

“We don’t have the perfect team yet, but we just want to make people proud.

“The Australians will be slightly different and more tactical than the All Blacks so we might have to change a bit,” De Villiers said.

“What we can take from the past is good, but those results won’t influence the future,” he told reporters.

“We know what we want to achieve, but in Australia we face a much more structured unit.

“They take the ball through the phases and keep possession for longer periods, they probe and look for holes, and have a brilliant backline.”

Fullback Mils Muliaina backed the high-risk game plan, which involved the All Blacks moving the ball from deep inside their own half and looking for space out wide, but believed they took the wrong options at crucial times.

“It was probably on to kick and we ran it and if it was on to run it, we kicked it.

“That’s the disappointing part and we’ve just got to regroup now, go back home and take a long think about what we’re going to do.’’

The All Blacks, physically and mentally battered by the Boks, are now taking a pounding back home after their naive approach in Durban and failing to pick up a bonus point in either of their two Tests in South Africa.

Wynne Gray, in the NZ Herald, said the All Black team should be overhauled after “as bad a performance as any in the 69 Tests since Graham Henry took over”.

The two most experienced All Blacks — fullback Mils Muliaina and flankRichie McCaw — both say South African rugby is at the strongest ebb they have seen.

Michael Alwin of the Guardian suggested the Boks’ game plan was based around being aggressive and waiting for mistakes.

“And, boy, did the All Blacks make mistakes,” he wrote.

“On a wet night in Durban, they continued their policy of running mindlessly every precious morsel of possession they manage to secure.

“When it came off, which it did once or twice, it was spectacular, but for the most part it gifted the ball back to the opposition in treacherous positions.”

Mark Palmer in the Sunday Times wrote: “New Zealand were a side marginally improved from the ghastly efforts witnessed at Bloemfontein, but too many cogs were still not rotating with sufficient alacrity to permit Graham Henry’s team serious hope of winning.”

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