Matt Williams has been vocally suspicious of Taff hopes in recent days, and it’s pretty funny just how dismissive he is of them. However, one of the writers on the excellent ESPN Scrum.com has made the very valid point that the Welsh are coming into the tournament without the usual hoopla or barely-veiled truckload of acrimony that usually forms the body of their luggage. Continue reading
Haven’t we heard this one before? Blond kid goes straight from school into the Natal Sharks starting lineup, gets picked for the Springboks within the season and then is a vital player in their world cup campaign as a twenty year old. Continue reading
Colour me shocked: Pieter de Villiers has gone and picked very close to the best South African squad available to him. There’s an argument for the inclusion of the crafty Adie Jacobs over the more athletic Juan de Jong, and maybe the untrammeled running ability and pace of Lwazi Mvovo over the experience of Odwa Ndungane, but they’re very close calls. Likewise Flip van der Merwe’s youth and aggression gave him a good shot, but de Villiers has opted instead for the lineout skills and leadership that Ulster’s Johann Muller brings to the cause.
Tri-Nations underperformers Ashley Johnson, Jean Deysel and Deon Stegmann are all axed from the backrow to make way for the return of Schalk, Heinrich Brussouw and somewhat surprisingly, Bath-bound Albert Louw. Juan Smith had to withdraw from selection last week due to his failure to sufficiently recover from injury, and while a player of his calibre would be a loss to any team in international rugby, it could mean that we see Schalk take on the South African No7 blindside jersey [they just had to be different] in a Brussouw/Burger/Spies backrow that looks very tasty. Then again, the wrecking-ball qualities of the Sharks’ Willem Alberts might well be employed on the blindside, or ironman Danie Russouw – who started all three of South Africa’s knockout wins in their successful RWC07 campaign at No8 – could be called into play, in what is an area of tremendous depth for the Boks. Continue reading
Boks Club Baby Blacks; Eat Bones
South Africa sent a largely back-up team to Wellington under a vastly experienced hooker three weeks ago, and New Zealand returned the compliment yesterday. Kevin Mealamu captained a half-strength side missing a wealth of stars: Richie McCaw, Dan Carter, Kieran Read, Brad Thorn and Mils Muliaina, the established spine of the side, were all left cooling their heels back in New Zealand. It’s a cliche in rugby circles that there is no such thing as a bad All Blacks side, and though any team would miss players of the calibre of those listed above, Mealamu, Tony Woodcock, Ali Williams and Jerome Kaino, all front-rank forwards, were present and correct. Continue reading
New Zealand can put one hand on the Tri Nations trophy this weekend by winning in Port Elizabeth.
Pieter De Villiers’ term has been marked by eccentric and controversial comments. He has kept the bulk of Jake White’s 2007 team rather than putting his own stamp on things by introducing a new generation of players. If his team wins the World Cup, all of this will be glossed over. South Africa’s tour at the beginning of the tournament put paid to any chances they had of winning the Tri-Nations as de Villiers sent over his B team. This weekend, he goes with the big guns. Continue reading