Jaco van der Westhuyzen’s days in the Springbok No 10 jersey appear to be over.
After a wholly inept display in the Boks crushing 49-0 defeat to the Wallabies on Saturday, the beleaguered flyhalf looks set to be replaced by young Meyer Bosman for the Test against the All Blacks on Saturday.
Springbok coach Jake White finally admitted that his persistence with the halfback pairing that played against Australia was not working and a change could be seen in Wellington.
“I would be the first to say that Ricky Januarie and Jaco van der Westhuyzen do not succeed as a combination,” White told Beeld rugby writer Morris Gilbert.
“We will have to seriously consider a change; one of several brave decisions we have to make this week when we select the 22 for the Test against New Zealand.
“I wanted to send Bosman out to take Jaco’s place shortly after half-time on Saturday because it serves no purpose if he sits on the bench all the time. He has to play.”
And chances are he will be partnered by Fourie du Preez, who was a revelation after he replaced Ricky Januarie. He was directly responsible for saving three tries late in the game with heroic defence in the in-goal area.
“Until the World Cup tournament next year there will be no mercy for the Boks. I want to give Meyer another chance and if it means he has to play against the All Blacks and Daniel Carter on Saturday, it just has to be.
“If he makes it at Tri-Nations level, he will be up to anything in Test rugby.”
So, White has been forced to gamble at a time the rest of the Tri-Nations teams are settling down. The coach blames his flyhalf woes not on his persistence with van der Westhuyzen, but rather his lack of game time in the No 10 jersey.
“I knew all along that Jaco was fighting a losing battle because he was not, despite my requests, played at flyhalf during the Super 14 series,” White complained to Gilbert.
“He played at flyhalf at his Japanese club, NEC, but (former Wallaby coach) Eddie Jones says the competition in that league is not good enough to make Jaco a better Test flyhalf.
“This leaves me with a growing headache because Jaco can’t be expected to be a top-notch flyhalf if he plays in that position only in Test matches. After the Tri-Nations series he is off to Japan again and we’ll see him only if he is included in the team for the Springbok tour at the end of the year.”
Van der Westhuyzen’s chances of making the World Cup squad seem slim at this stage and he may have finally fallen out of favour with the coach. Said White: “Jaco and I will have to sit down and talk about this openly.”