Player 23: Cotton-wool Boks

Should Springboks be playing in the provincial matches against the Lions?

p2311The British and Irish press have expressed their disappointment at the withdrawal of the 28 players who have been named in the Bok squad, saying it has devalued the Lions tour.

Stuart Barnes, former England No 10 and Sky commentator, had this to say in the Sunday Times:

‘South Africa have adopted a sporting scorched earth policy by withdrawing their 28-man Test squad from contact with the Lions. Instead of Jaque Fourie and Juan Smith getting an early sight of the tourists with the Golden Lions and the Cheetahs, the visitors have been left to face lesser names. Encountering a frontline South African international before the first Test is about as likely as encountering an elephant in downtown Johannesburg.

‘Peter de Villiers might be thinking back to the 2007 World Cup where the All Blacks, starved of a competitive pool match, crumpled when the pressure came on in the quarter-finals. Four years ago New Zealand did the same thing to the Lions, who duly headed with delusions of English grandeur to the first Test and three weekends of humiliation.

‘The flip side of the coin is that many of the home team will not have played for five weeks or more (excluding the routine warm-up game against Namibia). Such potential rustiness could suit the Lions to perfection. By trying to be too clever, the Springboks may be acting stupidly.’

Does Barnes have a point?

Have your say, as Vodacom Player 23, below.