On the Brink: Adversity breeds success
EXCLUSIVE: World Cup winner Rob Brink greets the readers with his final column in the series, as he looks ahead to the World Cup play-offs.
Will the extremely difficult situation (mentally and psychologically) the Springboks found themselves in - post the Japan debacle - have driven them to practice and perform with more intensity, which will ultimately result in a successful 2015 World Cup?
Only time will tell!
The Boks have done really well since the loss to Japan and have reacted admirably to what was possibly the worst result in Springbok history.
They do need to improve substantially before one can consider them as real contenders.
However, the deeper the Boks go into this tournament the more likely they are to succeed, because our top players will be getting more game time under the belt, which is key.
The Bok scenario is exactly opposite to the New Zealand and Australia teams, who have been in form and so have their top players.
If the Boks get past Wales, I 'truly believe' (heard that before…?) we have the beating of the All Blacks - as our traditional game plan is better suited to the World Cup in relation to their traditional game plan.
That is a fact.
* Eventually, there is some continuity.
* I agree with Heyneke Meyer selecting his strongest possible team against Japan, it gave his combinations another 80 minutes together and game time to players who were short of it.
* Momentum building and confidence growing, which will escalate in a big way if we beat Wales.
* Defence has been superb, especially against Scotland! Were they a bit weak though?
* Set phase play is very impressive.
* I think Francois Louw is finding form and at his very best he's close to Pocock.
* Lodewyk de Jager and Eben Etzebeth have been superb!
* JP Pietersen is showing his class.
* Damian de Allende is in sensational form.
* The tight five, as a unit, are in good form and if they continue to improve, they could just be fundamental in the Boks going all the way.
* Is Fourie du Preez really up to speed yet? The lift in intensity on Saturday will answer that question.
* Ditto Duane Vermeulen.
* Should Willem Alberts have started against Wales, giving the bone cruncher game time which he desperately needs. This will mean benching Schalk Burger.
* Is Bismark du Plessis on top of his game? How many bear hug turnovers has he created? How many steals on the ground? How many 'stamp and stay on his feet' general play mauls has he created?
* With Frans Malherbe starting, isn't there a case to further break up the front row unit and going with Adriaan Strauss (who's form seems good) and Malherbe.
* Strauss throws a great dart, so there's no issue in him finding his jumpers.
* Can our top turnover players (Francois Louw, Duane Vermeulen, Schalk Burger and Bismark du Plessis) find form similar to that of Warburton and Pocock (if we good enough to get to the Final)?
* Is our midfield defence strong enough? Apparently the statistics are not so complimentary.
* Is Pollard's strike rate good enough in relation to Dan Biggar, etc? Games of this magnitude are won and lost by three points more often than not.
* Will the young Pollard handle the massive pressure?
* With the Jean de Villiers injury, I would have called up Frans Steyn - who can cover fullback, inside centre and flyhalf, plus he has a very valuable weapon with a long range drop-goal.
* I really can't understand why Steyn wasn't part of this squad - someone please tell me why.
* If I was the coach (which I should be), I'd tell the back three, Fourie du Preez and Lambie, that there's a high likelihood that Lambie will come on with 30 minutes to go with the view of looking for that long range drop-goal. So Lambie should be taking touchline passes from Habana, Le Roux, Pietersen, Fourie du Preez etc and practice his long range drop-kicks.
* I would say to Willie le Roux - please, if it's 50/50 try and curb your natural flair unless we're in the attack zone. In other words don't risk a mistake in games of this nature.
So, this probably being my last article in this series, I thought in leaving I'd go back to article one and re-iterate the very basic game plan I suggested:
1) Make no mistakes at all - mistakes lose big games.
2) Win you first phase ball and win it well. Poor first phase ball, generally results in mediocre phase play - which doesn't win you a world cup.
3) Ensure your defence is the best at the tournament. Tackle everything that moves in front of you and tackle it backwards ball and all - no tackle is to be missed.
4) Govern phase play and dominate the collision area.
5) Kick every penalty and take your drop-goals when they present themselves.
6) Capitalise on turnover ball and don't kick it away like an idiot.
7) Hope for that bit of luck that the weird shape of the rugby ball sometimes favours one team (SA) and not the other. Invariably hard work equates to luck and I know the Boks will have worked exceptionally hard in the build up to the tournament and during the tournament itself.
I'm on my way to the '95 World Cup reunion in London - so in closing I'd like to thank all my loyal supporters of this series of articles, whose comments have been 'interesting'. That's the beauty about the game of rugby, everyone has an opinion, some, though, a little less qualified than others
Thanks to rugby365 for letting me write this series, albeit it inconsistently due to time constraints, I wish the website all of the best in the future.
Come on the Boks - make it a hat-trick!!
* 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 wrote exclusively for @rugby365com