RE: The Bok pecking order
January 31, 2013, 07:59:35
I really think that there will always be serious debate about this kind of pecking order- - since it can be based on two different scenarios - namely -
* potential of players to develop in future; or
* actual performances of players who are already plasying on international, Super 15 or even CC levels.
There may also be a tendency to mix the two scenarios up and that may in fact be another route to follow. However, there is a diffiiculty with that since potential players may have all the physical requirements - but lack in one major aspect - namely what I call ball sense (skills and reading of games) and instinct. The latter ability makes the final difference between the level players can perform in - especially in key positions that ultimately determine the success or otherwise of matches. This means that physical ability can take a player some way to reach the national sides - while others will never reach that level and their careers would probably be ending on Super Series level or even CC level. Ultimately it is a mixture of physical and skills combined that determine whether a player will be selected to play on the highest international level.
The ultimate test will always be how can potential be translated into skillfiul performances on the field of play. There is in performances also another factor and that is called fighting spirit (crudely known as mongrel) - some players have all the physical attributes and even the skills - but if they lack fighting spirit - they will never make the grade insofar as performances are concerned. Be it as it may - the ultimate selection is a mixture between physicality, skills and fighting spirit and that would determine on which level players will ultimately perform.
The other important issue is how can a player progress to the highest level of play. Most playes starts their playing career on Under 19, Under 20 or Under 21 level and progress from there through CC and Super 15 to Springbok level. There are exceptional cases like Etzebeth who played on Under 20 level and jumped the next level and played Super Rugby and Springbok rugby before he ever played on CC level. There are also late developrs or players that missed the junior level altogether and get their first chances on Vodacom and CC levels - a typical example being De Allende.
Based on the above the potential development of playes will always be influenced by the ultimate determiner for selection - namely sustained performance by players. This is where we as enthusiasts missed the boat completely. In some cases the thing is that we abuse the saying "class ins permanent - form is temporary" and justify lack of form over a sustained perfiod as a mirage. The experienced players are often enough put on a pedestal and regarded as above criticism when their performances are anything but satisfactory. The list is virtually endless - players like Morne Steyn is heavily criticized for poor performance while players like Francois Steyn and Hougaard are above criticism and do not do anything wong.
Be is as it may - we must realize that of the hundreds of players who start off playing on Junior levels only a very small percentage will ever reach international level. However, back to the pecking order as provided above. A very substantial number of players in the pecking order had average or even poor performances in 2012 and will have to show drastic improvement in perfromances in 2013 to show that they can be candidates for selection. There always will be arguments about performance evaluation - some use stats to determine evaluation - but tha is not really the alpha and omega and not a realistic indicator in the final [removed]ysis.
I would not even attempt to do a pecking order at this stage - since in my case the sustained performance criterium will be the final determinator of the order. This may not in all cases be fair as well - especially in cases like the one of Taute (who for years only played at full back) - where he performed unsuccessfully at center for a limited number of games and then written off completely by some of us. He may yet have the ability to improve his center performances - but unless he gets more playing time to allow a sound judgement opportunity - he would not ever attain a sound basis for selection in the position he really is not used to play in. Taute himself prefers to play at full back and it is unlikely that he would get enough playing time to ever determine whether he would make the grrade as a successfull center
In essence the following players on the pecking order will have a lot to prove in 2013 if they ever want to succeed on higher level since sustained high level performances in 2012 was not maintained over a reasonable peropd or they had no opportunity to prove that they can perform on higher levels than the junior level: In some cases sustained performance was an issue as well - they played well in some games and less so in more games:-
14/11. JJ. Engelbrecht/ Mjekevu / Sithole / Helberg / Volmink
13. Taute / JJ.Engelbrecht / Howard / Serfontein / de Allende / JP du Plessis / Sadie / Dries Swanepoel / Tyler Fisher
12. Frans Steyn / Serfontein / Whitehead / de Allende / Frans Venter
10. Swiel / Pollard / Fouche / Catrakillis
9. Hougaard / Reinach / v/Zyl / Groom / Schreuder / Duvenhage
1. Nkanyane / Mellet
2. Chiliboy / C.Visagie / Burden
3. F.Kirsten / R.de Klerk
4/5. Steph du Toit / Willemse / JA Marais / Peet Marais / R.Botha / D.Bulbring
6/7/8. Kolisi / A.Botha / Brussouw / Rhodes / v/d Walt / Hattingh
One would like to see by May how the pecking order is affected by sustained performances and to measure the order against the actual selections made by Meyer for the June 2013 tests.