Jake White wants a successor to Percy Montgomery. He’s got one and he doesn’t play fullback.
Ruan Pienaar was included in White’s provisional national squad and played a couple of minutes against the World XV. He made an immediate impact and then got sent back to the Sharks to play in the Currie Cup. He’s been there ever since while White has entrusted an unfit and out of form Ricky Januarie with the secondary scrumhalf duties and also spoken of a lack of goalkicking options in the squad; hence the insistence to play Monty in every test.
Hearing White say Johan Roets, who has not played for two months, and Willem de Waal, who has played exclusively at flyhalf for the Cheetahs in the last two years, does not instil confidence that there has been any long-term planning. If Roets and De Waal were the back-up options to Montgomery then why have they not made it to a training camp in two and a half years.
White keeps on telling us that he can’t pick Luke Watson because the player would be unfamiliar with the squad systems and structures. Now he’s thrown a couple of names in the hat that have been around the last two years and playing reasonably well. De Waal every year looks great in the Currie Cup and then stutters along in Super rugby. Roets is the most consistent fullback in South Africa, but White has on several occasions insisted the player did not have the extra yard of pace needed to play at test level.
Then again White also said Akona Ndungane was a yard too slow and then he picked him a month later to inject pace into the back division?
It doesn’t make sense and neither does the continued omission of Pienaar, who has that ‘X’ factor coaches talk about. He is a player that makes things happen and he is currently the most versatile player in the country because of his ability to play anywhere in the backline and kick goals.
White’s short-term planning — and by that I mean his insistence on picking the best and most experienced team every weekend — has been shown up because the oldies have gone stale and lost form. There was no planning around Pierre Spies or Pienaar or JP Pietersen or Meyer Bosman.
White wanted to play Bryan Habana at fullback, with Pienaar as scrumhalf and goalkicker in the Tri Nations. Then the Boks lost to France, White feared for his job and all boldness was blunted by a conservative approach that relied on defence and goalkicking. But the defence and goalkicking have been poor and White’s Boks have offered nothing as an alternative.
It is incredibly frustrating to hear White talk of Roets, who is not playing, and De Waal, who is playing flyhalf, when there are a host of exciting young fullbacks excelling every weekend in the Currie Cup. Once again he shows a total disregard for any kind of form in the domestic competition. Whereas a national coach is supposed to inspire dreaming, White’s conservatism is crushing dreams.
JP Pietersen, rated by Montgomery as the best fullback talent in South Africa, is on tour. White has yet to play him. Brent Russell is on tour, but White has yet to play him.
Penalty kicks are not going to beat the Wallabies in Sydney. Only a year ago Monty nailed four from four and the Wallabies scored five tries to nil to win 30-12 against the Boks.
Why can’t Pietersen or Russell play in Sydney, with Butch James kicking at goal?
James has often started for the Sharks as first-choice goalkicker and has kicked for the Boks at test level. Why is he not a goalkicking option?
James, up until a week ago, was not even in the Bok mix. The babble that he was always part of the system is nonsense. White picked Andre Pretorius three weeks ago, only to find out the player hadn’t even started running. Then he drafted in Bosman. Then Jaco van der Westhuyzen flopped on tour and he flew in James and left Bosman on the bench. What did that tell Bosman?
Pienaar’s snubbing, though, is as baffling as Watson’s.
There’s a South African XV that didn’t make Jake’s match 22 in New Zealand that I’d back to beat the current Bok team — and Pienaar would be central to it.
Play this XV against the sad sacks who played in Wellington and they’ll beat them. And then let’s hear Jake moan about the lack of depth and his limitations because of supposed transformation.
Keo’s XV: Brent Russell, Akona Ndungane, Frikkie Welsh, Wayne Julies, Odwa Ndungane, Brad Barritt, Ruan Pienaar, Pedrie Wannenburg, Jacques Botes, Luke Watson, AJ Venter, Francois van Schouwenburg, BJ Botha, Gary Botha and Lawrence Sephaka. Coaches: Rassie Erasmus and Dick Muir.