Jenkins weighs in on pivot problem

Wales and Lions legend Neil Jenkins believes Fourie du Preez has the aptitude to play flyhalf for the Springboks.

The Springboks, who start their preparation for the British & Irish Lions tour in Pretoria on Monday, are currently without their incumbent flyhalf Ruan Pienaar, who injured his ankle a fortnight ago. He is likely to recover, but will only start training in the week leading up to the first Test in Durban.

A recurrence of the injury, or indeed a flare up of the knee injury which kept him out of the Super 14 for seven weeks will leave the Springbok selectors in a quandary.

Morne Steyn, who has been excellent for the Bulls throughout their campaign, is the most obvious back up, but Jenkins, whose goal-kicking helped the ’97 Lions to a 2-1 series victory over the Springboks, had a different solution.

‘I know it’s a bit of out-of-the-box thinking,’ Jenkins told the Sunday Times, ‘but with all your injury problems there, why not play Fourie du Preez at No10?

‘Of course, scrumhalf is his preferred position, but that guy is such a phenomenal footballer that I feel he could quite easily make the switch.’

Speaking to recently Du Preez said that the prospect of playing flyhalf wasn’t a particularly appealing one.

‘I shift to first receiver at times during games and I like the control the position offers you,’ he said.

‘But I don’t see it as a long-term option for me. I think it’s important to specialise in one position, and at the moment I want to concentrate on becoming the world’s best scrumhalf.’

Speculating on the Lions’ chances of victory for their upcoming tour, Jenkins conceded that they would be
underdogs, just as the ’97 group had been.

‘To be honest, though, most teams who travel to South Africa, whether they are the reigning world champions or not, are never the favourites,’ he said, adding that the first Test in Durban would be decisive to their ambitions of winning the series.

‘If we can win there it sets the series up rather nicely. However, if we lose in Durban, I think we will be in for a bit of a rough ride,’ he said.

‘After all, I don’t think the Boks lose too many back-to-back games on the highveld. Like not picking a recognised goal kicker, the Boks would have learnt their lesson. For us, playing two games at sea level was a big advantage. They haven’t been so obliging this time round.’