This weekend, for Independent Media’s IOL, I’m raving about the immediate impact of Warren Whiteley and Malcolm Marx, but my complaint is of the general underperformance of South African sides away from home.
Warren Whiteley’s leadership and presence is just massive for the Lions. Equally Malcolm Marx’s inclusion in any team. The Lions and Springboks duo returned to Super Rugby after an extended absence and were a class act. Whiteley, if he can get through the next month, will definitely start the Rugby Championship at No 8 in place of the unavailable Duane Vermeulen. Marx, if he is injury free, will also wear the No 2 jersey. It’s worth a rave any time Whiteley and Marx are playing and they are players who make any match day squad stronger.
South African players, larger than life when playing at home, are pathetic away from home. Mentally they are fragile and it’s in the top six inches where South Africa’s players remain so far behind their New Zealand Super Rugby opponents. New Zealand’s franchise players, consistently, have shown an ability to front away from home and be successful. South Africa’s best, by contrast, turn into some of the worst, as was again evident with the Bulls and Stormers respective defeats. It was a similar situation when the Springboks played Wales in the United States. New Zealand rugby, more than a decade ago, invested heavily in sports psychologists. South Africa has to find head doctors of similar ilk.