On the Brink: Will Bok 'spine' be strong?

Thu, 17 Sep 2015 21:13
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EXCLUSIVE: World Cup winner Rob Brink takes a look at South Africa's prospects at the World Cup, which gets underway on Friday.

If we can get past the quarterfinals I think our chances of winning the tournament improve exponentially.

Some might say that makes no sense at all, because New Zealand (probably) then await the Springboks the semifinals.
 
My theory is this: If we win in the quarterfinals (perhaps against England), then there is a high probability that the spine - being Bismark du Plessis, Duane Vermeulen, Fourie du Preez, Patrick Lambie (perhaps at No.15 - and other returnees would have played in most of the games and would probably have found some form.
 
With a quarterfinal win (possibly against the hosts at that) will come confidence and then we will probably meet the All Blacks in a semifinal.

I don't think New Zealand handle World Cup pressure games particularly well and they don't have a game necessarily better than ours when it comes to knock out/cup rugby - in my opinion.
 
Has Heyneke Meyer made the correct decisions with his selections?

The jury is out and the verdict will definitely go against him.
 
Meyer has really gambled big time with the likes of Jean de Villiers, Du Preez, Vermeulen, Francois Louw, Willem Alberts and Victor Matfield (38).

Their class is undisputable, but how can one gauge their (Du Preez, Vermeulen, Louw, etc) form, as they haven't played in months - while De Villiers and Alberts have just started playing of late?
 
Having said the above, we know that class is permanent.

So LET'S hope that the class that we have in these players can find form in five games (four pool matches and a quarterfinal) and take us to a semifinal.

It's often a case that players with class find their form quickly enough if given game time, so there is hope.
 
So if I was Meyer, I would select my best 15 (or matchday 23) and simply play them from game one!

If Fourie du Preez's knee goes, then so be it and you just bring Pienaar on.
 
It's nonsense that people are talking about using the pool games to test certain players and giving everyone a chance.

That's balderdash, based on the lack of game time of your first-choice players, pick your A team in every game and get some momentum, rhythm and confidence.
 
Let's now look at Heyneke Meyer's selections for the opening match against Japan:

How can he possibly go with Jean de Villiers (as much as I like him) ahead of Damian Allende, arguably our best player of 2015.

I'd prefer Patrick Lambie at No.10 to Pollard, but the leaving Frans Steyn out and Willie le Roux seemingly falling out of favour, he now reaches for Kirchner…..

With what he as at his disposal - would Pollard at No.10 and Lambie at No.15 not be his best bet?

The above permutations further emphasize the error in not taking Frans Steyn.

He has backed Victor Matfield, so he needs to continue with that decision - be it correct or not.

Matfield HAS BMT, that is proven. I'll never forget the way gobbled up an in-form Andries Bekker in the Super Rugby final in Soweto.

Vermeulen (when fit), Louw and Alberts, would be my first choice with Burger on the bench.
 
Why bench Schalk? Because Schalk is so versatile now, that he has to play him off the bench - which means there is cover for the other three, who are just recovering from injuries which could play up again at any minute in a game.

Schalk has matured with age and adapted his mad passion> He now has that ability to get that 50/50 pass away, which could result in a try.

That ability to keep a clear mind, coupled with exceptional ball skills, is an ability that is so often overlooked - Ruben Kruger and Bobby Skinstad are two other players that had that ability.
 
I don't necessarily agree with Meyer's selection policy, but one has to appreciate what his intention has been dating back some two years and I think there is just that remote outside chance (which is all one need in a World Cup) that it might just work out for the Boks.
 
* Robby Brink, a member of the victorious 1995 Springbok World Cup squad, is a the former Western Province and Stormers loose forward, who also had a stint with Irish province Ulster.

He writes exclusively for @rugby365com