For 65 minutes I sat thrilled by the rugby at ABSA Park Stadium as the Springboks played a cohesive solid game. I was delighted that our boys were going to beat the All Blacks in their first encounter of the Tri-Nations.
My joy was not long-lived however. The final 15 minutes of the game were a disaster from a South African perspective. Missed tackles, poor defensive work and a back-line at sixes and sevens was not the stuff of world-beaters. I have seen better play at U19 level! This was extremely disappointing as we pretty much had the game wrapped up until we lost concentration and ran out of steam.
We now discover that the Bok coach, Jake White, has called on the guys to become as fit as the All Black squad. This is just mind-boggling to me. When the initial Bok training squad was called together earlier this year, all the players were put through a stringent medical and fitness test. A minumum standard was put in place and selection was informed by the results of these tests. Are we now saying that the minimum standard was too low? Did we not know how much fitter our opposition was going to be? What does that say about the planning and strategy of the Bok coaching staff? Would it have made a difference to Saturday's result if we didn't already have a long injury list this early in the season? Is our bench not as match-ready as that of the All Blacks? Who is asking these questions and to whom are they being directed?
I am a Jake White supporter and believe that he is the man for the job. I am surprised though that he would publicly announce that his team "just ran out of steam" as this raises some difficult questions.
Let's hope that we can get our boys match fit to take on the best the world has to offer come World Cup time. I believe we stand the best chance for a few years now to lift the Webb-Ellis trophy on October 20 - we wait in hope...
Monday, 25 June 2007