Pick De Wet Barry at 12 or not at all. That is the resounding lesson nine weeks of Vodacom Super 14 has taught the Stormers coaching staff.
Barry has yet to play a half-decent game in the tournament, and his form does not warrant inclusion over either Jean de Villiers or Marius Joubert.
The Stormers’ decision to play Barry at 13 to allow De Villiers to start in his favoured position was brave, but it is time to acknowledge the failure of the move.
Barry does not have the pace to take the outside gap. His good support line and offload that led to Bolla Conradie’s try against the Force and his 50m break that led to nothing against the Blues is the beginning and the end of his delivery on attack.
Defensively he has been anonymous, struggling to cope with the wide open spaces of the 13 channel. Those who contend that centre is centre, and the number on the back irrelevant, do not understand the complexities of modern defensive systems.
Barry’s role at 12 differs markedly from 13. At 12 his tendancy to shoot out of the line is not so readily exposed, and at inside centre he is confronted with a more physical than athletic challenge, a contest of power and not pace.
Joubert has been shown to be equally ineffective on the wing, and he must now be given the opportunity to show whether his six month lay-off will see him realistically challenge Jaque Fourie for the Bok No 13 jersey.
The one start De Villiers and Joubert enjoyed in the midfield against the Cheetahs saw the Stormers produce their most fluent and attacking rugby of the competition in the second half.
The argument that Barry should be included over De Villiers is conservative and not reflective of a side that needs radical change.
“872 minutes of rugby in 12 weeks definitely is too much,” Professor Tim Noakes stated in SA Rugby Magazine in July last year, referring to Barry’s enormous work load in the 2005 Vodacom Super 12. “Unfortunately I fear De Wet will pay for it somewhere along the way.”
Noakes prediction has been shown to be a prophecy, and the clear existence of Barry’s burn-out is evident in the lack of incisiveness and explosiveness in his game.
His on-field leadership, equally, does not warrant persistence. WP director of rugby Nick Mallett admitted to keo.co.za that the side desperately needs an “on-field motivator” and stated clearly that the side was not getting “up for games.”
The Stormers are blessed with three Bok centres, but coupled with that is the realisation that three does not go into two. Barry must be the casualty.
Coach Kobus van der Merwe cracked the whip after Barry’s latest display, raging that his infringement that led to a deserved sinbinning was “unacceptable”.
Unacceptable dictates there must be consequence. The time for cracking the whip is over, it has little effect if the horse is lame.
By Chris Hewitt