Andre Pretorius warms the bench and Jaco Pretorius doesn’t even have this luxury. Another Bok team. Another shambles.
Jaco Pretorius, played out of position on the wing, was one of the better Bok players against Ireland. Now he is gone.
JP Pietersen, official tackle bag carrier in Australia and New Zealand, is again thrust into the position of hugging tackle bags at training.
Jake White’s test selection for Saturday shows there was no plan about who was to play in Dublin and who was to play at Twickenham. White admitted as much in Dublin when asked if he had a rotation policy for the tour. He said he didn’t and that the Dublin result was always going to be the basis of Twickenham selection.
Andre Pretorius must be equally puzzled at his omission. He was not good against Ireland, but then it is doubtful Dan Carter would have excelled behind a Bok pack beaten to a pulp – a pack that struggled with the basic northern hemisphere element of rucking and counter rucking.
Pretorius did not get front foot ball to play the percentages in the second half. His development, if he is still in the World Cup mix, has not been aided by his omission from Saturday’s starting line-up.
The player who is very fortunate to keep his place is Jean de Villiers. Of all the SA players on show in Dublin, De Villiers was the most disappointing. Why? Because he is our most talented back. He is the media darling and he is the most creative back in South Africa. But his defence was as solid as George Bush’s war policy and he is another player who is failing too much in the big games.
De Villiers, in partnership with Jaque Fourie, offers the Boks so much hope. But when Fourie is not there De Villiers seems to fall apart. It may have been better to shift him to wing for this test, but the last time he played wing at Twickenham he was terrible. He hobbled off with an ankle injury and the British media questioned whether he was any good.
The SA media defended him, but the time has come for De Villiers to make a contribution defensively to a midfield that could have been better served with Butch James at inside centre and Pretorius at flyhalf.
Steyn’s move to fullback makes sense. He should have started there against Ireland, but what message does it send to Pietersen? You’re not good enough, that’s what the Bok coach is telling him.
What message does Akona Ndungane get? A bloody confused one. Too slow for Dublin, but quick enough for Twickenham.
Spies is another who’ll be feeling a bit confused. Not strong enough to play No 8, but good enough to play flank. And then there’s Lawrence Sephaka. Six years after making his test debut he will clock just 40 minutes in another European tour!
When I questioned Sephaka’s inclusion in the SAB Elite High Performance Centre I was asked if I was anti transformation. My response was that I was anti window-dressing.
Pietersen and Sephaka’s selections have been window-dressing. So too Chiliboy Ralepelle, who now has been with the Boks for six tests and has played about 60 seconds of rugby. That’s 10 seconds a test, which makes him a very well paid international.
As with every Bok selection this year one struggles to see the science in it all. Pretorius (Jaco) and Steyn were going to redefine the wing position. Pretorius (Andre) was going to return home confirmed as the best flyhalf in South Africa, while picking three bruiser back rowers was going to redefine the way the game was played by loose-forwards up north.
Every international coach invests in openside specialists. Not the Boks. We have a coach who doesn’t believe in it. But we do have a coach who has picked a tighthead specialist at loosehead against England.
On the positive, there’s a fullback at fullback, two wingers on the wing, a centre at centre and two locks at lock. That’s more than there was in Dublin, but it is doubtful it is enough to beat an England team that is bad, but still not that bad to lose to this Bok team.