Rookies bit raw



June 13, 2016
Rookies bit raw

KNOCKED OUT: Pat Lambie and co. were bullied. CREDIT: Bertram Malgas

When CJ Stander knocked out Pat Lambie with that aerial charge that earned him a red card in the first Test against the Springboks at Newlands, he not only took the wind out of Lambie but out of the game as well.

That’s not how you want to see Test matches being played – 14 against 15. You want to see 15 against 15.

That’s why even with if Springboks had to win the match, it would have felt like a hollow victory.

It is, however, an injury that will keep Lambie out of the next Test and might force Allister Coetzee to play Garth April off the bench at Ellis Park.

And this was clearly not part of the initial plans.

I have my doubts over April’s readiness for Test match rugby.

On Friday night against the England Saxons he didn’t have the best of matches. Call it nerves or whatever, but it was only when he was replaced by Francois Brummer that the SA “A” began to find some rhythm.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to see Brummer being called up to the Bok squad… ever.

But April isn’t the answer just yet either, and judging by the way the vuilgat Irish came down on both Lambie and Elton Jantjies, April will be chucked into the deep end of a swimming pool with moerse waves.

It is not only him that couldn’t cut the mustard on Friday evening against the Saxons, there were a number of players who showed that the step up from Super Rugby level was perhaps a little too much.

One has to wonder if they will consider roping in a player like Rohan Janse van Rensburg as his deputy at franchise level.

Howard Mnisi, proved that he is perhaps not one of the best midfielders in the country.

The Stormers’ Leolin Zas, too, didn’t look like his usual self playing out of position at fullback, while Nic Groom was overshadowed by his replacement Piet van Zyl.

There were some beacons of light, with Stormers flanker Sikhumbuzo Notshe only enhancing his reputation in the end.

One thing South Africa would have learnt from this weekend, though, is that Test match rugby is not parkie rugby.

You can’t simply enter the highest level of the game with a free-running approach. Yes, the SA “A” team bounced back well in the second half and yes the Saxons have been together for longer, but I’d expect some changes from Johan Ackermann heading into the next encounter.

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