November 25, 2012, 00:25:21
This was a difficult tour up north. Schalk, the Beast, Bismarck, Bekker, Habana and Fransie all unavailable. The dismissal of Morne Steyn, the man who scored most Bok points since 2009. An unsuccesful 4N campaign ending with a poor second half against the ABs at home. Discontent about the playing style and many of the selections.......all falling on the shoulders of one of the most inexperienced Bok teams.
But Meyer made a number of great choices well into the year. Bringing back Steenkamp, switching Hougaard to the wing and giving 9 to Pienaar, choosing Lambie ahead of Jantjies, assembling a power back row including the NH based Louw. These choices were all important in our unbeaten NH tour.
And Jean was reduced to a grafter much of the tour....but he played it hard and defended like a Trojan. He also made a number of brave calls that led to points. I thought he became a larger figure as the year went along.
We come through these games with guts....anyone of them could have been lost. But the Boks had two weapons, a superb lineout and a very tough game at the breakdown. And today an old virtue....Lambie made all his kicks. If he missed one we might have lost. Guts all the way, if not the beautiful game we all would like to see.
Some players have emerged and some have emerged again. JP looked the most potent back on the park today....he and Habana are really superb. Jean still had the legs to make a great from behind tackle. He probably has another year left in him. Lambie hasn't fully made the case....but he is looking good against other young test flyhalves.
Etzebeth has emerged as a fixture. Kruger as an able back up to Bekker at number 5. Strauss was not so ebullient today, but there is no doubt he is test class.
And our loosies did splendidly on this tour and today....from Albert's fine lineout steal to Louw's hard grafting. And especially today Vermeulen joined the party with power running and some nice 8th man touches.
We are still looking for a multi dimensional fullback, a 13 who provides more, and a typical South African scrummie....ie world class. Fairly soon I fear, we will also be looking for a new tighthead....as Jannie deals with the work load.
But make no mistake, this team has learned to win close matches. That's a core aspect of a winning team. We are in much better shape than we were before the tour.....all the aesthetics can be added in due course.