White defends Pietersen’s omission

Jake White says Saturday would be an inopportune time to blood JP Pietersen, but he seems to have no problems with Chiliboy Ralepelle’s ability to take on the might of the All Blacks.

White explained his team as the strongest available to play the All Blacks. It shows six changes to the team he picked last week, which a week ago he described as the strongest available to play the All Blacks.

When questioned about Pietersen’s omission White said that the Sharks fullback needed to be eased into action and that he felt the need to go for more experienced players on this occasion, which is a contradiction on why Ralepelle is there. The SA under 21 hooker’s last match was the SA under 21 final against France two months ago. On Saturday he played for one minute against the All Blacks and his contribution was to make one lineout throw.

White also said that he wanted to see what his back-up at fullback was and that is why he has broken up the best midfield combination in South Africa to assess the merits of Jaque Fourie at fullback. Compare this to White’s assessment on the end of year tour that Conrad Jantjes and Meyer Bosman were his fullback alternatives to Percy Montgomery. Then he took Pietersen on tour to Australia and New Zealand as the fullback back-up and never played him. Then he told the media that the likes of Willem de Waal and Johan Roets were possibilities at fullback. He said this while Brent Russell, who has destroyed teams from the fullback position, was standing alongside Pietersen holding tackle bags.

And on Saturday he played scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar at fullback for the last 20 minutes against the All Blacks when Montgomery left the field with injury. Afterwards he told the media that fullback was the only position in which he could accommodate Pienaar. He hinted that he would play him there this weekend.

On Monday the Bok management made a call to the Bulls to ask Jaco van der Westhuyzen, who played fullback in the 2003 World Cup, to join the squad. The Bulls told them Van der Westhuyzen was back in Japan. On Wednesday he picked Fourie at fullback.

Now you tell me that there has been a succession plan on who has been ranked number two to Montgomery for the last two years? There wasn’t and that is just one of the reasons why so much faith has been lost in White and his selectors.

Outside of fullback, the loose-trio of Pedrie Wannenburg, at No 6, Pierre Spies and AJ Venter at No 8 was never the unit envisaged at the beginning of the season or even a week ago. Again three individuals have been asked to play as a unit. It lacks all balance. There is no fetcher and just like in Brisbane White has gone for three ball carrying loose-forwards against the best opensider in the business.