Boks must hit the books or fail the year

There are more questions than answers about the Springboks in 2022, which is why they get a C-grade from Mark Keohane. In his TIMESLive column, Keohane argues that wins over Argentina put a gloss on a disappointing start to the Test season, the success of which will be determined by results against the two best teams in the world, namely Ireland and France. “The Boks for the season are six wins from nine Tests. On the surface that would represent a decent return, but the opening two Tests against Wales were rank poor, the defeat in Adelaide against Australia, was a shocker and the last 10-minute meltdown against the All Blacks in Johannesburg was a tough one to witness,” Keohane writes. The day the Boks talked the All Blacks out of defeat “The Nelspruit win against the All Blacks and the win against Australia in Sydney were their best performances of the year, but the consistency hasn’t been there in performance and the end-of-year tour will provide the barometer of just how well positioned the Boks are going into the 2023 World Cup year.” Keohane also suggests that the players picked for the second Test against Wales were “done a disservice”, with most of them barely given any game time to make a statement before being unceremoniously dropped. “They were on a hiding to nothing, and it was as if the Bok coaches wanted to make a point to supporters about why certain players shouldn’t be in the mix,” he writes. Keohane claims that Jacques Nienaber has created his own headaches with regard to the current Bok flyhalf conundrum, lack of backups at centre and undercooked successors to veteran No 8 Duane Vermeulen – which all must be remedied on the end-of-year tour. KEO & ZELS: Stormers win, Bulls shine brightest “Handre Pollard was indifferent and then poor, Elton Jantjies produced a horror 40 minutes in the season opener against Wales, having not played a match in the preceding six months. Damian Willemse’s selection at flyhalf in Sydney was forced on the selectors because neither of Pollard and Jantjies were available,” he writes. “Willemse added a different dynamic at No 10, but it remains a question of whether he’d have been played there but for an enforced circumstance. “Canan Moodie and Kurt-Lee Arendse sizzled on debut but both got game time because of injury. The midfield depth was not tested and Elrigh Louw and Evan Roos, as just two examples, could only have been beneficiaries from Test-match exposure. “Those November showdowns, not to mention the Twickenham visit against England, can’t come soon enough for a Bok squad that has promised more than it has delivered.” Last day of the ban Back at the stadium on 5 November – 50th birthday — SA Rugby magazine (@SARugbymag) September 29, 2022 Photo: EPA/James Ross/BackpagePix The post Boks must hit the books or fail the year appeared first on SA Rugby magazine.