Evaluating Current Springbok Squad 2016

The Springboks are playing disgraceful rugby at the moment, and while we have thrown much criticism towards the coaching staff, we have yet to do a thorough examination of the current South African squad to play Ireland.

Allister Coetzee has largely stuck with the same starting lineup for both matches against Ireland, making only 1 change to the starting XV for match 2 with Pieter-Steph DuToit replacing Lood DeJager at lock.

What follows below, is The Sport Freak examination of the current Springbok team.

The Current Springbok Team

15. Willie LeRoux

It is hard to put a label on LeRoux, he is playing much like a young Percy Montgomery, in the sense that he has moments of brilliance while at the same time also making some shocking mistakes.

Strengths:

  • Good passing game – often slotting in at first receiver to get an attack started.
  • Generally good under the high ball
  • Good chip and chase – LeRoux’s primary attacking weapon, his chip and chase kicks, have resulted in a number of (lucky?) tries for LeRoux over the years.

Weaknesses 

  • Strategical Kicking, while the chip and chase is his primary attacking weapon, LeRoux is generally not a good strategic kicker when having to return balls from the back.
  • Unpredictable – As mentioned above LeRoux can have moments of brilliance, but can also make some shockers at crucial times.

The Verdict- APPROVED!

14. JP Pietersen

Pietersen has been a long serving veteran for South African rugby and has played some good (superb?) test matches for the Boks in the past, however, Pietersen’s game is currently on a downward spiral and there is a long list of better wingers to replace Pietersen at left wing.

Strengths

  • Experience – Pietersen will earn his 68th test cap when he takes to the field on Saturday, a player who has been there, done that…his experience should provide a calming influence on the young centre pairing next to him.

Weaknesses

  • Age – Jp Pietersen will turn 30 on 11 July 2016, does Coetzee really want to take a 34-year-old winger to Japan 2019? Why not focus on developing up and coming young players, with the eye on the World Cup?
  • Slow /Predictable / No “Flair” – As mentioned above Jp Pietersen’s best years has long gone, currently, he contributes nothing to the Springbok team except experience.

The Verdict – Fail

 13. Lionel Mapoe

Lionel Mapoe, is new to the South African setup, while, coming of, a superb Super Rugby season (with the Lions) he was largely anonymous during the 1st test match. Perhaps the biggest problem for Mapoe, is that Coetzee’s gameplan does not suit his style of play, he flourished in Super Rugby under the Lions setup however, international rugby is a completely different game, and he is yet to proof himself.

The Verdict – Undecided. 

12. Damian de Allende

A semi-experienced player, Damian de Allende makes for a tricky selection, here is why:

Strengths

  • Strong on his feet – DeAllende has managed to break open numerous defensive lines in the past with his darting runs,
  • Good Step – Damian DeAllende has some good foot work on him, don’t get us wrong he is far from a Sonny Bill type of player in terms of sidestepping, but his power and good foot work, has troubled some defensive lines in the past, especially at Super Rugby level.

Weaknesses

  • One Dimensional- Much like Jan Serfontein the problem with Damian DeAlende is the fact that the ball rarely (almost ever) moves from 12 to 13, with DeAllende rather opting to try and bulldoze over the position. Which he does with varying success levels.
  • Tunnel Vision – DeAllende is not exactly someone you can describe as a “smart player”, he seldom realize opportunities around him, instead, it is largely a case of tunnel vision, for DeAllende, as can be seen from the image below.

 

Lack Odf Creativity and Vision SA Rugby

OFFLOAD THE BALL!!!

The Verdict – UNDECIDED! 

11. Lwazi Mvovo

Lwazi Mvovo, is yet another questionable selection, which can only leave South African supporters to scratch their heads:

Strengths

  • Speed – Mvovo was once considered the fastest player in South African rugby, while he has lost some of his pace in recent years, as he got older, he is still very fast.

Weaknesses

  • Age – Like JP Pietersen, Mvovo is 30-years of age, as mentioned above he has lost some of his speed due to age, and he will lose some more as he gets older, does the Springbok coach really want to take to 34-year old wingers to the World Cup in 2019?
  • Size – Mvovo is 1.80m tall and weighs in at 90kg’s, in modern rugby most of the best wingers possess both size and speed, the All-Blacks make a good example of this often fielding large powerful wingers.
  • Tunnel Vision – Mvovo, despite getting plenty of opportunities in the first test against Ireland, couldn’t capitalise. He doesn’t look for work, and only knows one way when he gets the ball…

The Verdict – Fail!

10. Elton Jantjies

aah, the good ol’ flyhalf position which has been plaguing South African rugby for years, Springbok supporters are cautiously optimistic about Jantjies. It is hard to rate Elton Jantjies since he has only made 2 appearances for the Springboks until this far, while being superb in the Super Rugby season, stepping up to international level is a whole new ball game, will he be able to deliver…?

Strengths

  • Attacking Flyhalf – Something which South African rugby has been missing for years (and perhaps never had) is a true attacking flyhalf, a type of Dan Carter / Aaron Cruden player, Jantjies showed a lot of promises in Super Rugby on attack, but it is yet to be seen whether he can replicate it at international level.
  • Foot Work & Passing – Jantjies possesses a potent side step, and he is generally good at spreading the ball.

Weaknesses

  • Goal kicking – While not terrible, Jantjies goal kicking can not be considered a strength! Jantjies has missed some shockers in recent times, and his Super Rugby goal kicking statistics reflects it, with only a 69.2 success rate of the tee during Super Rugby 2016.
  • BMT – We have written about this in the past, when we did a comparison between Jantjies and Lambie, unfortunately, Jantjies has a reputation for choking during crucial times. It should be noted that Jantjies has re-invented himself as a player of the last year so this might change, however at the moment we do consider it a weakness.
  • Strategical Kicking – Good attacking flyhalf but NOT a good strategical kicker
  • Defense – Even the most loyal of Elton Jantjies supporters will tell you Elton is horrible on defense, with opposition players having bulldozed over him in the past.
  • Coetzee / Jantjies This is not a weakness of Jantjies perse, however, it should get mentioned, that it is hard to see how Jantjies fits into Allister Coetzee’s current game plan. Jantjies flourishes under an attacking game plan, as we have seen in Super Rugby.  Coetzee, unlike Ackerman, places more emphasis on defense, strategical kicking, and pinpoint accurate goal kicking, all weaknesses of Jantjies’s game.  With that being said, does Coetzee have a game plan?

The Verdict – Undecided

9. Faf de Klerk

Exciting up and coming young player, one of the few players who performed well during the 1st test match against Ireland

Strengths

  •  Good around the fringes – One of the key requirements of modern day scrumhalves, DeKlerk is renowned for his darting runs around the fringes!
  • Quick To Get The Ball Out  – To have a good attacking backline it is crucial that the scrumhalf clears the ball quickly from the breakdown, and that is exactly what DeKlerk does, very quick to get the ball out
  • Decisive & Confident – As we have seen in numerous Super Rugby matches, DeKlerk does not hesitate to make a decision, often quick to take a tap kick and “go for it”

Weaknesses

  • Kicking –  As good as Faf DeKlerk is, he has one major weakness and that is his kicking from the base of the ruck, something he will need to improve ASAP!

The Verdict – Approved!

 8. Duane Vermeulen

Up until last year considered one of the best number 8’s in world rugby. With that being said, Duane had a shocker last week against the Irish, and that is our problem with players going overseas, often they come back as a different player, and not for the better! However, we still have faith in Duane and hope he can bounce back in Match 2

Strengths

  • Size & Strength – Immensely strong and physical
  • Experience – Immensely experienced and only 29 years of age, Duane still has much to offer for South African rugby, providing he can stay in form.
  • Good Lineout option – Duane is 1.95 meters tall, and makes for a great alternative jumper in the lineout.
  • Strategically Smart – Known to pop up at the right area at the right time.
  • Defense – Strong on defense often driving players back over the advantage line.

Weaknesses

  • Speed – There has many questions asked in the past over Duane Vermeulen’s speed, while not slow, he is certainly not the fastest number 8.

The Verdict – Approved!

7. Siya Kolisi – A good player, but there are many better flankers in South African rugby, we still believe Siya’s best position is on the bench as an impact player

The Verdict – Fail!

6. Francois Louw – Returning from England where Louw captains Bath, Louw was uncharacteristically anonymous in the first test match, and it looks like he is currently struggling for form, can this be contributed to the fact that he is playing overseas?

Strengths

  • Ball Poacher – Very good at the breakdown, when on form makes a number of turnovers per game.
  • Leadership / Experience – Captains bath and captained the Stormers, Louw provides a calming influence for the younger players in the team, something which should not be underestimated.

The Verdict – Approved!

5. Pieter-Steph du Toit

A Brilliant young player who unfortunately has been plagued by injuries, yet he managed to bounce back from each injury, always wearing his heart on his sleeve.

Strengths

  • Inspirational – Always giving his best for the team and playing his heart out, one of the only standout players from match 1, hence his promotion to the starting lineup
  • Reliable – Does what is expected of him, good lineout jumper, hard and physical player, rarely disappoints.

The Verdict – Approved!

4. Eben Etzebeth

Immensely physical, the young veteran, much like Pieter-Steph Du Toit, always  gives his best, although his form has slightly decreased over the past season.

Strengths

  •  Hard And Physical –Immensely physical at the breakdown, good strong ball carrier, and defender
  • Experienced –At only 24 years of age, Etzebeth has played 45 matches for the Springboks.

Weaknesses 

  • Attitude – As mentioned Etzebeth is young and immensely experienced, however, at the moment he is not the player he used to be and is experiencing a dip in form, can this be contributed to Etzebeth getting a bit of a big head..? Possibly!
  •  Discipline – When there is a punch up Etzebeth is sure to be the first player involved, has cost a number of penalties in the past due to poor discipline.

The Verdict – Approved!

3. Frans Malherbe

At 25 years of age Malherbe has played 13 test for the Springboks until this far, mostly coming of the bench. A solid and reliable player, while not always dominant in the scrum he can certainly hold his own against the best in the business. Does what is expected of him, an all-round good player!

The Verdict – Approved!

2. Adriaan Strauss

A controversial selection for captaincy, a couple of years back Adriaan was superb, however, since he transferred to the Bulls, his game completely changed and he started to become largely anonymous. Despite possible attitude problems, we believe Bismarck is the better hooker!

Strengths

  • Good Scrummager – Reliable and strong scrummager
  • Lineout – Generally accurate in the lineout and finds his jumpers most of the time

Weaknesses

  • Declining Form – Not the player he used to be huge, dip in form since he transferred to the Bulls!

The Verdict – Undecided!

1 “Beast” Mtawarira.

The cries of “Beast” has slowly started to subside around world stadiums, and these days he mostly gets driven back in contact.

Strengths

  • Reliable scrummager
  • Experienced

Weaknesses

  • Age – Tendai will be 35 when World Cup 2019 kicks off
  • Anonymous – Except for scrummaging the “Beast” is not offering anything else to the team, being largely anonymous during open play.

The Verdict – FAIL!

 

Evaluating current South African Team – Conclusion

When evaluating the current team our verdicts read as follows:

Fail:

  • JP Pietersen,
  • Lwazi Mvovo,
  • Siya Kolisi,
  • Tendai Mtawarira.

Undescided / Questionable:

  • Lionel Mapoe
  • Damian de Alande,
  • Elton Jantjies,
  • Adriaan Strauss

Approved:

  • Willie LeRoux
  • Faf DeKlerk
  • Duane Vermeulen
  • Francois Louw
  • Pieter-Steph du Toit
  • Eben Etzebeth
  • Frabs Malherbe

When considering the above, the most worrying aspect for South African supporters, is the fact that this is a team who does NOT gel (i.e. they are incompatible), the centres while good, does not compliment each other, the wingers are both over 30, and it is generally a horrible backline which can’t play together or compliment each others, strengths.

If the above players are the core group of players who Allister Coetzee wants to build his squad around, South African rugby is in for some dark times.

Many say don’t criticise the coach, criticise the players! We disagree the coach selected the team and he is responsible for drawing up the strategy. His selected team is an incompatible team, and we don’t see how many of these players will fit into Allister Coetzee’s game plan (if he has one)

What do you think of the current Springbok team? Do you agree with our evaluation? Who would you omit or include? As always drop us a comment below!

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