Jean v Frans - Perspective
September 14, 2012, 13:12:52
It's been eight years since his transition to centre, and here we are today, with one of the more overrated Bok players being punted by Moz for retention over the best performing twelve we have had for the last twenty years at least. Jean, the bumbler, the awkward player, he never was much ball-in-hand and it was once he started playing at 12 for the Boks that our backplay dropped a few levels. But it was okay, because who else was there? Barry was a definite fading force, and through repeated failures was replaced. Ettiene Botha unfortunately died that year and he was definitely knocking on the door for selection. It wasn't until 2007 that we got a taste of a real 12, one who completely transformed our campaign on the biggest stage. It was 45 minutes of being on the ropes against what Smit had described as the most physical opponent he had ever seen in his life. Jean goes off with a torn bicep. Frans' first touch of the ball is to rush the ball out of our 22 and put JP through, from that moment on the result was never in question. The Frans/Fourie combo was lethal. Then 2008, and Peter went WP crazy, and of course, Jean was retained. Our backplay was, again, bumbling, stuttering, and this combo never worked. And so our backplay deteriorated to the point of being a forward orientated game, were each Tri-Nations and EOYT was dominated by the forwards in the try stakes. Then 2011, Frans and Fourie link up again, and things look once more very promising. This time it was to be Frans who was cruely cut down, and our chances of bearing Australia plummeted. Jean was lauded for his few breaks, but his general play was very poor, and this regression from Frans contributed heavily in our stunted play, irrespective of the ref match-fixing. Eddie Jones lamented this in SARugby Magazine, "Morne Steyn tried to be flatter, but not enough was happening". Harkening again to Jean's poor lines and passing.
Fast-forward to today, we have just had six tests with Jean at 13. It was supposed to bring out the better attacking qualities of Jean. It was supposed to be so much more. For one, Jean isn't even half the player Fourie was at 13. Being run over no less than six times, being dragged about and bumbling around aimlessly. But now we are supposed to believe that we must move Jean back to 12, where he has been, "consistent", a very interesting interpretation to say the least. I would go so far as to say that Jean should never have played another test after his injury in 2007. By that time we had reached the natural evolution of the team, with Frans and Fourie forming a gargantuan defensive juggernaut that was so much more ball in hand. It allowed us to play a typical brand of powerful Bok rugby, but with incision. You could see that Meyer wanted this, but alas, Fourie wants to stay in Japan. Jean very fortunate. No, the time has come to say goodbye to a very sad and sorry player for good. Very fortunate to escape castigation as Keo loves his WP brethren and, of course, he is right next to a position that receives the most attention for all the wrong reasons. But enough is enough, goodbye Jean, don't let the door hit you on the way out.