|RE: Our centre situation |
February 05, 2013, 05:55:21
In essence I agree with you about the center situation. I also believe that De Villiers should be phased out as a matter of importance - especially since he will be 32 years old this year and not really a candidate for the future - that is for the 2015 WC. Mozart and some others will argue that he actually was the best performer as center in 2012 - which he in fact was - but that is history and we need to think of the future here.
In essence Francois Steyn should be the answer at 12 and I thought that when he became available in 2012 we would have a major weapon at 12 against the English and in the Championship tests. However, he really was performance wise in some ways disappointing - even though you and some othes disagreed. There could have been a reason for that and that is that he played outside a non-performing flyhalf in Morne Steyn. The latter never was an attacking flyhalf - he always stood too deep in the pocket and was a kicker more than a passer of balls. That left Francois Steyn in a difficult situation - since he too was forced into standing too deep. He consequently received balls with defenders virtually on top of him and had very few options available to him. In the process tje nly real option available to him was enfoced crashballing.
However, there was some occassions where he did have a bit more space an that is where he was osmewhat disappointing. He showed some negatives by running rather slowly straight at the opposite defender, thus not trying to draw defenders towards him - and he virually never passed or off-loaded balls effectively in tackle situations. In view of the very tight situation insofar as defece is concernced - the latter elelments are very important in the inside center position in particular and when it is absent it really is a negative.
In essence Steyn in 2012 was really somewhat one-dimensional if you look at mtach statistics. In essence he passed only 20% of he balls rhe received to his center partner or tried to kick vey unsucessfully - two of the rare kicks were very poor and landed his team in serious trouble. The rest of the balls he handled (80%) he crashballed - often enough on or behind the gain line.
The question remains whether the latter play was the result of him playing outside of Morne Steyn and forced upon him - or whether he himself developed negative tendencies.. I think that Sten himself will have to show whether he has still the abilities required of an attacking inside center in him and whether he will overcome the negative tendencies observable in his performances in the tests in 2012. He has an excellent opportunity to prove that he can still be regarded as an efective attacking weapon in the Springbok backline. In Super 15 - where defence is normally less tight than in tests and opponents are frequently not players on international level - he can really show whether he still is an attacking center option.
Steyn in Super 15 will play outside of Lambie - who as a very skillful player is much more attack-orientated and a much better passer of the ball. If Steyn in such circumstances showed the same tendencies as he did in tests in 2012 - we really will be faced with a problem in our quest to have a more effective backline operation. 80% crashballing will definitely not be acceptable. A further positive will be that Spencer is the backline coach for the Sharks - and he is very likely to be in a position to get Steyn up to standard as to attacking center play.
Although I on this site often enough played devil's advocate and tried to provoke discussion - I am afraid there really was some negatives in Steyn's performances and he needs to cut it out before he can be regarded as an automatic future selection. If those negatives persist in 2013 Super 15 - we would be in a really sticky situation and may be forced to look at other alternatives.
To my mind Serfontein is the classic no 12 center - powerful in running and illusive to boost. He has a very good in off-loading capacity in tackle situations and is an excellent passer of the ball. At 19 years of age - he already is the full package insofar as inside center play is concerned. I believe he is the best center coming through that we have had in a decade and proved that at age of 18 when he was the player of the series in the Under 20 WC in 2012.
The Bulls did use him in their Under 21 team in 2012 and he played a major role in the said championships. He was only used on CC-level in one game - namely the game at Newlands against WP - and in that game he was part of a bad overall team display and did not show much.
One thing about Serfontein I am unsure about is his ability to play at 13. In all the games he played in he always played at 12 - that applies to both the Under 20 WC - as well as in the Bulls under 21 team. Technically it will on paper be possible to assume that he would be able to play at 13 as well as he does at 12 - but there are differences between playing at 13 and playing at 12. Those differences can be seen in the difference in performances of a player like De Villiers in 2012 - he was a much better player at 12 than he was at 13. Will Serfontein be equally good at 13 - nobody really can say or assume that he will be - he will have to play at 13 to show whether he really is.
Should Steyn not live up to expectations - I think Serfontein will definitely be the answer at 12. He to my mind remains our best hope for a more effective attaking bakline.
Taute has all the physical abilities we can expect from a center - and although he did play well in the Under 20 WC as a 13 - he never played at center for over 2 years since then and did not show up well enouh when moved from full back to center after playing for virtuallyt wo years only as a full back. I think that was recognized by the player himself - as well as Meyer and Coetzee and will play exlusively for the Stormers at full back this year. You are correct in what you said when you mentioned "Taute will sadly probably be wasted at 15 for the Stormers but this does not prevent the Boks using him at 13". Meyer will however definitely noit pick him at center - without some really recent proven abilities in that position and for the time being I cannot see how he would be in contention for selection.
Being a smallish player Jordaan probably has the best skills set of all SA players that played at 13 in 2012 - as you said he is a class act. Jordaan has also shown sme exceptional abilities when he played at 12 opposite SBW in the Super 15 final against the Chiefs. However, I view him primarily as a 13. I think aside from his skills - he has another advantage over all the other players mentioned and that is the speed factor - he really is a speed merchant. Persnally I think he is obviously not as strong a runner as some bigger players - but he is a slippery customer and hence a very good prospect.
Another aspect of his game is his tendency to go and look for work and thus helped his team in all kinds of ways. I can remember in particular two incidents wher it played a major roll in the outcomes of games. Both happpened in games against the balls He went in and successuly wrestled the ball loose from maul situations. In one case he himself scored a try and in the other case it resulted in the scoring of one of the most spectacular tries scored by any SA team in 2012.
I would really like to see how he develops in 2013 and if he keeps up his performances in 2013 to my mind he really should be the automatic selection at 13.
This player was really the surprise package that came forth during the 2012 CC games. The first real glimpse of him was when he was brought on from the bench as a wing in a few CC games - my own question was "who the hell is he?" He never really played on Under 20 level and was an unknown quantity - but not for long. he soon enough showed on the wing a remarkable try-scoring ability.
He is physically a big man - but also very speedy and a strong runner. Basically the biggest surprise was that he was selected by Coetzee at 12 in the CC final. He had a very good game and showed very good skills in all aspects of center play. In reading up on him I found that the Under 20 WP coach thought that he is such a good player that he himself will decide whether he wans to be a Springbok or not - a very high accolade by all accounts.
What position should De Allende play in? He was excellent on the wing and equally good at 12. That being the case the assumption is made that he will be good at 13 as well - but we will not know until it is proven as such. We may get a glimpse of his abilities at 13 in the warm up game on Saturday when he is likely to play at 13.
I think that De Allende is also a class act. Personally I would like to see a center grouping of Serfotnein, Jordaan and De Allende as our centers of the future - the fact being that Serfotnen is only 19 years of age and the other two 20 year-olds.
Other Centers mentioned
I think the others will have to prove that they can in fact compete with the star three - Serfontein, Jordaan and De Allende - and there is no indication that they will be in fact competitive.
I believe that Meyer should take the bull by the horns and use the three star playes in the June tests and forget about the present players - who have all shown some negatives already. They with Goosen and Lambie around and with Habana and Pietersen on the wing will to my mind produce the most attacking Springbok backline we have seen in the past 20 years. If Taute gets his act together at full back - we will have the real McCoy to admire.