Finding a spot for Fourie

Jaque Fourie needs to get a start for the Boks against England, even if it is on the wing.

Fourie has had a disastrous year due to three injuries – to his groin, elbow and then cheekbone. Whenever he seemed to be re-gaining full fitness he broke down to freak ailments, but his showing against the Scots showed he is moving towards the form that made him a World Cup-winner last year.

Not just his moment of brilliance to score the winning try, where he took an off-cue Jean de Villiers pass and then dived over, but his entire demeanour in attack and defence lifted the Boks when he came on.

Bok coach Peter de Villiers suggested on Monday that some fresh impetus is needed to take on the Poms.

“Maybe that’s what we need on this tour: fresh legs, fresh ideas, fresh everything,” said De Villiers on Monday. “Fresh everything” may be a step too far, but minor changes to the Bok line-up will create some spark, and the Bok coach could do worse than look at Fourie.

Adi Jacobs has been on form and breaking up his partnership with Jean de Villiers would be foolish, and the only available spot in the backs would be where he made such an impact on Saturday – on the wing ahead of Bryan Habana. De Villiers has put on a brave face on behalf of Habana, but how long can he stick by a player clearly out of form who has been replaced early on the past two weekends due to a niggling leg injury?

“Every player’s form dips from time to time. We’ll stand by him because we are a team. He did not play badly against Scotland. He just could not hold onto one or two balls,” said De Villiers. Losing the ball virtually every time in contact was distressing, but even more worrying was his attitude.

Griquas wing Bjorn Basson went around Habana in the Absa Currie Cup, Stefan Terblanche repeated the dosage, as did Scottish rookie Thom Evans at Murrayfield. The one negative of throwing in Fourie in the 11 jersey would be his lack of pace for an international wing, but you can bet he won’t let anyone go around him easily and drop his head as Habana has.

Fourie also wouldn’t be playing out of position as he started his provincial career at wing and fullback, while his strength in the air would also be a bonus in fielding the increased number of kicks under the ELVs.

Dropping Habana wouldn’t mean resigning him to the scrap heap, his credentials and future value to the Boks is undoubted. But at the moment his confidence is waning and his presence on the pitch is more of a liability than an asset, while on current form Fourie would only fall in the latter category.

By Grant Ball