John is too slow, Victor is past it, Ricky is rubbish, Morne is average, Meisiekind is anonymous and Kirchner is not of international class. These are the frank views Australian World Cup winning coach Bob Dwyer gave of the Springboks.
Peter Bills – IOL
John Smit is not up to standard, he’s too slow. And the Springbok captain no longer seems to have any real enthusiasm for the game.
As for Victor Matfield, he may well be past it.
Australian World Cup-winning coach Bob Dwyer last night produced a devastatingly frank assessment of Peter de Villiers’s ailing Springboks.
Dwyer’s view on Smit? “He is not up to standard. He’s too slow and doesn’t seem to have much enthusiasm for the game anymore. In the case of both Smit and Matfield, it is feasible that as team leaders they are struggling with their own games versus the team’s game. But I think Smit is past it and Matfield may well be past it.”
Dwyer offered a serious alternative to the long-established Victor Matfield/Bakkies Botha second-row partnership.
“I think the two best locks in South Africa right now are Danie Rossouw and Andries Bekker. They complement each other and are terrific competitors. But I’m not sure you can play Bekker and Pierre Spies in one team because they’re both wide runners and you might be short of guys in close to do the hard yards.”
Saturday evening at Brisbane’s Suncorp stadium represented a much improved Wallaby performance, in Dwyer’s view. It condemned the Boks to a third straight loss and virtually no chance of defending their Tri-Nations title.
“I have described the Wallabies’ performance as much improved and declared them on the right track,” said Dwyer.
“This is accurate but I don’t want to give cause for too much optimism – yet. Over the past two weeks, I have described the Springbok performances as poor, so a performance with any sort of quality should have produced a win against them, with their current squad and form. They have, after all, conceded about 100 points in the last three weeks.”
What then for the Boks?
“Their capitulation on last season’s end-of-year northern tour was nothing short of astonishing, and that same form has continued into this year’s internationals.
“Certainly, they are missing Fourie du Preez, Heinrich Brussouw and Jannie du Plessis, but their established players are just not producing.
“Dare I say it? Victor Matfield and John Smit look past it, and even the great Bryan Habana is having no impact on the game. Why is that, in Habana’s case? There were a number of parts to his game: he had a fantastic kick-chase game but the kicking is now not as accurate because all the kicking is now in the domain of Steyn, whereas before it was shared by Steyn and Du Preez. So the defence against the kicking can be much more focused and the kicking is subsequently not as accurate.
“Habana’s attacking game had two strings to it. One was at the end of a backline attack which, without Du Preez, and Jean de Villiers at centre, has lost most of its sting and there are now virtually no opportunities for him.
“His other attacking opportunities came either as first receiver or as pick and go when he injected himself in close. But the South Africans’ ball recycling has become so stilted that no opportunities exist.”
What of some of the other players in the Bok back line?
“Zane Kirchner is a good player but I have real doubts as to whether he’s a world-class player,” said Dwyer. “He doesn’t have any distinguishing features. He’s reasonable under the ball, reasonable on kick return, fair as an injection into the backline and on defence. But in no facets of the fullback game is he a world XV choice.”
Gio Aplon? “I like him; he’s a nuggety type of player prepared to have a go. But he’s yet to prove himself international class, even though he was outstanding in the Super 14.
Wynand Olivier? “I had to ask a colleague whether he actually played in the second Test against the All Blacks. That may explain Morne Steyn’s absence of form.
“I am most impressed with Steyn’s development as a flyhalf rather than just being a kicker but I haven’t been impressed at all with his international performances.
“But this may well be influenced by a less-than-great performance by the scrumhalf (Ricky Januarie) and inside centre (Olivier). It’d be pretty impressive to play well if you had duds inside and outside you. For me, Januarie isn’t up to it, whereas Ruan Pienaar is quality at both 9 and 10.”
What of Pienaar’s former Sharks colleague Frans Steyn, who is now playing in France?
“Frans Steyn is one of those guys that produces the occasional sublime moment. So I’d always pick him. He is a big strong kid, has pace too and can kick a goal from 60m to win you a game.”
He added: “I’ve just felt in recent times that the South Africans’ adherence to quality technique had really taken some forward steps.
“But in the last year their game seems to have fallen apart. They don’t seem to be doing anything, that seems the biggest problem.”