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Schalk or Kriel?


Look at the stats and the answer is clear.


So I hear many folks saying that “on form” Schalk Burger certainly deserves a call up to the Bok squad… but why look at “on form”… I mean.. what determines who is “on form” and who not.

So in order to determine who is “on form” let us look at the stats and see if Schalk Burger even features and how he compares with other runners like Warren Whiteley, Warwick Tecklenburg and Boom Prinsloo… new guys who have few or no caps.

Now I know that it is easy to look at overall stats and say that Warren Whiteley is the top tackler with over 200, but he’s also played the season in every game. How about we do some long division (That is wiskunde) and look at stats for average in matches.

If we use the main things expected of the modern day open side flank (being that he needs to be a ball hunter). But one thing our Brendon stole from Heyneke Meyer is the requirement that loose forward players need to be all rounders. Well let’s look at those major stats for loosies. Meters gained, meters run, tackles per match, turnovers won and the opensider’s old nemesis, penalties conceded at breakdowns.

Meters made per match

1. Kriel – 52,7 meters gained per match

2. Duane Vermeulen – 38,39 meters

3. Schalk Burger – 27,06 meters

Players beaten per match

1. Kriel – 3,70*

2. Vermeulen – 1,23

3. Burger – 0,96

Clean breaks per match

1. Kriel – 0,84

2. Burger – 0,37

3. Duane – 0,28

Turnovers won in the series as a whole

1. Liam Gill – 26

2. David Pocock – 23

3. Jaco Kriel – 22**

In the last two seasons Kriel has made 412 tackles missing the sum total of just eleven… for tackles missed percntage of just on 0,25%…

It remains to be seen whether Heyneke Meyer will rely on his Class of Bulls 2007 and jake White veterans… but if one looks at these statistics, selecting Schalk Burger over Jaco Kriel into the Bok side has to be a sentimental rather than rational selection.


* Kriel beat 44 players in the series. This is sixth on the overall log of players beaten. Given he missed a number of matches and was initially a second choice players. This places him ahead of Ben Smith the All Black full back.

** Out of the top ten ball stealers Kriel rates as the lowest for penalties conceded at breakdowns which will be vital in RWC.

# article adapted from an English one on http://www.rugbyworld.com by Russ Petty and using Opta Stats statistics system

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  1. Kriel has been the best in SA full stop…. no one even come close for me pick both putting myself in Meyers shoes the big questions is what does Schalk bring to Test match rugby?

    Bobby was a major failure in 1999 WC and he was the best there was at the time, although I still believe he played with and injury….

    We were bitching about putting young Bobby in and left Gary out ….I do not want to do the same as then so I will have both in my squad…

    You need Kriel in this team…..he will gain quickly as he is that brilliant player and to leave him out will be cutting your legs off before a 100 meter final…

  2. Agree with you. I was too young to get the 99 WC memo but I watched highlights and read Gary’s book. What a flop . Teichlegend. I also must add Kriel is a must call. Best loosie in SR for me. Unmatched.

  3. First sensible comment you made in about 7 years, unfortunately he also happens to be a lions player and we all know you are as biased as all hell.

    But here you are right – a loosetrio of kriel, Alberts and vermeulen would be close to unbeatable. Throw in some new tightheads and Victor playing left-out and we may be in with a shot.

  4. Schalla has always been a impact player for me in the last two years for the Boks will keep using him there, where he will cause havoc in the last 20 min in close games….

  5. @Ruggaworld:
    Always liked flo, v good backup, but kriel has been outstanding and is local talent – Boks need an injection of pace and turnover ability.

    Schalk a legend , one of my fav Boks alltime, must go along as backup now, too much hungry talent coming through. He one of few snr players to be retained but as you say used in impact role.

  6. @Jacques:
    Tough call – maybe but the loosetrio does need a bit more balance and I think Alberts and vermeulen are non-negotiable in NH.

    For me, for the Boks to stand any chance, HM has to start picking new tight 5. With strauss, Jannie and Victor, the boks stand no chance in NH. He’ll pick them and we’ll get slammed in the group stages and it will be panic stations but by then too late and everyone will complain after the fact and want him gone, too late by then.

  7. In my mind Kriel and Vermeulen select themselves. If you look at the stats, Vermeulen is clearly by far as valuable a player as Kriel. The question then for me is who goes blindside?

    To my mind you have to look at

    Boom Prinsloo
    Francois Louw
    Oupa Mohoje
    Schalk Burger

    You cannot go wrong with any of those playing in combination with Kriel/Vermeulen and to my mind the stats show Schalk has to be moved to blindside given that he no longer plays that ball stealing role at the Stormers with Kolisi and Carr being those role players so to all intents and purposes Schalla is already a blindsider with some opensider skills.

    If Meyer had BIG guts and did not play to usual form of having like five lineout options he would do something ultra daring and go with Flo/Kriel/Vermeulen in order to really really put the BIG pressure on opposition breakdowns. If one looks at New Zealand and England and Australia who are to my mind the biggest threats this coming RWC, all three trhive on dominating breakdowns. This way they dominate the tackle area quickly, force fast recycles and catch retreating defences not yet set so they get another linebreak. So if we can flood opposition tackle breakdowns with Flo, Kriel, Vermeulen, Bismarck and Eben Etzebeth’s physicality and COMPETE on the opposition tackle breakdowns to slow down or even steal ball we will catch backlines on the offence and be able to create those long range turnover tries that Jake White’s defensive system so often produced.

    If I were to choose my dream opening loose trio for RWC it would be

    6. Kriel
    7. Flo
    8. Vermeulen

    But Heyneke Meyer to my mind though an astute cooach is not one given to change and will be far more likely to stick to tried and tested so my probable will be

    6. Flo/Schalk
    7. Oupa Mohoje
    8. Vermeulen

    MAYBE Kriel on the bench.

  8. There is only one true blindsider in SA at the moment , Alberts , and he is more valuable than any other player in the Bok team in my opinion, even more so in NH

    No other player in Boks gets this momentum, both in carrying it up in heavy traffic (not talking Metres gained or clean breaks – talking mowing the oppo down) and noone hits as hard in the tackle and that counts a huge amount.

    When Albers puts in a big hit not only does it lift the whole SA mindset but the oppo know they are playing a Bokke team – don’t lose this.

  9. @Jacques:
    Speed and skill for the backs by all means, please more, just not in the tight 5 or at blinsside flank.

    SA make same mistake as wallabies and go for more athletic flanks only to get outmuscled by the NH orks on their heavier fields. Higgnbottam should be the first name down on Aussie team sheet.

    All the skill and pace count for nought if you don’t have the ball or any decent go-forward momentum to attack with.

    Just my opinion, but if go to light or too old upfront with lineout soecialist and ordunary scrummies who don’t contribute to tight loose, we going home before quarters.

  10. scrummies = scrummers

    Boks got ability for a phenomenal right 5 with the likes or kitshoff, malhere and Koch shining and with Beast, bismarck, etsebeth, flip and PSDT – no need to look elsewhere. They sort out the pom-poms.

    Instead we’ll go strauss, jannie, matfield, Bekker – God gerd waar’s die perd – groot pakslae.

  11. @cab: Make sense, I believe the combination of the two will be great for the Boks, but then again when we play the likes of NZ ……one needs to think what one will do in a semi…..

  12. If you look at the stats Schalk is good enough to be a Bok… on merit…

    Yet if one looks at the per match stats for go forwards make meters runs Alberst is not even in the Top 10 forwards.

    Of the South African loosies Kriel leads, Vermeulen second and Schalk third… so that bizarre contention that Alberts is some sort of magic elixir of go forwards is kak.

    I still don’t get your whingeing about Schalk, Victor and Jannie while at the same time suggesting that Elstadt, Pieter Steph Du Toit and Alberts deserve a shot at Bok glory even though they are over the hill, constantly injured and out of form respectively…. but apparently these obstacles do not worry your logic.

    Bekker? Seriously you believe Beker still has a shot at playing for the Boks?

    You’re so out of touch with local rugby I think it’s better you switch alegiances to your current nationality country or residence country…

  13. Valid point about Kriel, both him and Whiteley need to go and be playing. So does Schalk, Flo, Vermeulen and maybe Alberts and Kolisi (not injured and getting back to 2013 form that got him called up in the first place). Combos will be the key, here it will be a tough, tough call.

    I think Schalk as impact is a great idea. Mohoje played too little and when he did he was not on 2014 form, keep in mind though that Cheetahs were terrible and that didn’t help his cause. Alberts being off sick every 1.5 games worries me. Yes, we might need the bigger guys for NH conditions but I do not know that he is the answer. Spies should unfortunately stay home, unless he can miraculously switch to wing but unfortunately too late for that now.

    What we need more than anything is a captain that can see what is happening on the field and then bolster troops to play the right gameplan (or make sure for damn sure current gameplan is being executed 110%) for the given situation. That and locks, outside center and working back 3.

  14. Think a lot of the Alberts stuff is when he is in form. Hamstrings are very dicey & they love to just act out erratically.

    I think an in form Alberts would be wonderful to move meat in NH conditions. So too PSDT when he was in form.

    I think that Alberts is a 50/50 call given the hammies but PSDT & JDV? I don’t think those two make it on form. If they get on its all on a hope gamble.
    HM doesn’t strike me as a hope gambler.

  15. @DavidS:
    Schalk, like Os, still adds value but we have plenty depth at looseforward. Matfield is now older than methusla and he’s never been renowned for getting stuck in. He can probably still beat most over 100m but we don’t need that up north. The welshies are going to pick some duffer doos from the valleys with fkall athleticism, skill or tanne who hits rucks all day long. I’m afraid Matfield lineout prowess and towns won’t count for zip. Gatlands specifically instructed them last time – boys just don’t kick it out , you have the beats NH of them upfront and that’s what they did. Which is bullshit, we need some hardegat from the Karoo to remind them who they playing or else they will take their ball, our ball and the whole bladdy game – comprende?

  16. Nope Cab the only form ‘true’ South African blind-sider is Potgieter… Alberts is not only a sicknote of note but when he has made it on the pitch he has been woeful!

    As for Schalk and Kriel… two totally different players…

    I’m not sure about Kriel at test level on soggy NH pitches… but one thing is for sure… He adds something different if required… something Mahoje simply never has and never will…