Let’s get the Boks back!

By admin
30 July 2010

With the euphoria of the 2010 Fifa World Cup still fresh in their memory sports-lovers were relishing the prospect of more spectacular action in the Tri-Nations rugby series.

But after brilliant performances by the South African teams in the Super 14, and the Blue Bulls winning the series for the second year in a row, the three consecutive defeats of the Springboks in the Tri-Nations have come like a bucket of ice in the face.

Now the postmortem is in full swing. Oregan Hoskins, head of the South African Rugby Union (Saru), says a panel of experts will look into problems in the Bok camp. But, he added, although De Villiers won’t be fired Saru plans to investigate claims that he often leaves the coaching to the veteran players in the team.

But according to Griquas coach Dawie Theron, who was in the running for the job of assistant Bok coach, all is not lost. With the right attitude the South Africans’ fortunes could still change.

But Theron doesn’t think exhaustion can be blamed for the Springbok’s poor showing. “Modern rugby demands a lot from players. If the players are managed properly they won’t get exhausted.”

The criticism that Springbok stalwarts such as John Smit, Victor Matfield and Bryan Habana are past their prime is baseless, Theron says.

“John is perhaps no longer playing the best rugby of his career but as captain of the team that won the previous World Cup his experience and leadership is hugely valuable.”

Instead of quibbling about the interpretation of rules and criticising referees Bok management must focus on questions such as discipline and defence.”

But above all De Villiers shouldn’t hesitate to ask for advice. “If an experienced coach such as Jake White is prepared to give advice it would be wise to accept it but it remains his choice whether he takes the advice,” Theron says.

There’s nothing wrong with the Bok squad’s fitness and talent but weak combinations and defence are problems, says Ashwin Willemse, ex-Springbok and now a TV commentator.

“The Springboks are experiencing a serious dip but it also happened before the World Cup in 2006 when they suffered that 0-49 drubbing against Australia. Teams go through cycles and with the right leadership the Boks can gain the psychological upper hand again.”

Joost van der Westhuizen also reckons people are over-reacting. “I think the supporters have been spoilt by recent years’ winning cycles. We can’t handle losing. New Zealand and Australia were just better prepared than the Boks. It’s cause for concern but not a disaster.”

The accusation that South African players are aggressive isn’t justified, he says. “Other teams deliberately provoke certain players. You can be sure they discuss provoking a player such as Bakkies beforehand.”

Theron also says with hard work the Boks can again make it to the top. “If they can find that tenacious passion again and are hungry for a win nothing can stop them. And the Australians and New Zealanders must know when they come here for the next round of Tri-Nations matches they won’t be playing against 15 men but against 50 million South Africans.”

Read the full article in the YOU of 5 August 2010

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