Good decision-making can go a long way in paving the path to success.
And it’s in light of that statement that I am tipping my hat to Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber and his national-team selectors.
It’s rare that you acknowledge someone doing well for doing absolutely nothing, but that is the case in this particular scenario.
With the Springboks playing Wales in the Incoming Series in July, the Dragons have already announced their touring party.
It was expected that, with the United Rugby Championship (URC) having had a break last week, Nienaber and his selectors would have used this opportunity to name their squad.
I was getting the keyboard sword out to chop them down to size if they’d announced the squad before the URC playoffs were over.
The longer I waited, the sharper the sword.
It didn’t come, and then on Tuesday they released a statement reading: “A group of players will be invited to join the first week of the planned three-week Springbok preparation camp in Pretoria from Sunday, as the team gear up for the Incoming Series.
“With three South African franchises in the United Rugby Championship quarterfinals this weekend, and only a handful of players being free from their club commitments, Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber has opted to only announce his squad for the international series later [this] month.
“Selected local players will also be invited to join the preparation camps as their respective franchises’ URC campaigns come to an end. The available players will participate in a series of training sessions over the next three weeks.”
Brilliant SA Rugby. They could have been selfish and put their team above the wants and needs of the franchise teams just to have more time to prepare, but they didn’t. So well done guys. As much as I sharpened my pencil to strike as soon as the team landed in my inbox, as much do I want to praise you guys for this thoughtful act and it sounds like the players are in agreement.
Stormers lock Salmaan Moerat was asked earlier in the week if he preferred the team being named later.
He said: “I think generally I am a fan of announcing a national squad after domestic competition has finished.
“It’s important that the players have their focus at the union – it gives them more time to prove themselves to the selectors – especially now that we are in the business-end of the competition. In that sense, it’s really good.”
Moerat had to give the diplomatic answer, talking about the union and players having their full attention on playing for their franchises.
But let’s break it down a bit.
Moerat is believed to be a shoo-in for a call-up to the national team.
The merits of such an inclusion would be questioned if the decision was made last week. Here we have a man who hasn’t played most of the season because of injury and had discipline issues when he played – if memory serves me correct, he was sin-binned twice while the Stormers struggled earlier in the competition.
Being a rookie, his inclusion therefore would rightly be questioned.
But all of a sudden three good performances against Edinburgh and a possible semifinal and final and the picture can change heeltemal.
Big matches require big players and there is no better time than now to show that you have the BMT to be a Springbok.
The flipside is true for players who are maybe not fancied to crack the nod in the squad.
Here I think of a player such as Evan Roos, who has already grabbed the attention of director of rugby Rassie Erasmus after snubbing him for the first alignment camp.
The likes of Leolin Zas, who is currently the tournament’s leading try scorer and a complete buiteperd for a Bok berth, could also force a change in thinking in what is possibly three matches left in the campaign.
Now let’s say the announcement was made last week and some of these aspiring Springboks didn’t make it. Think of yourself, would some of your hunger and desire not be drained?
With the dangling carrot of a Bok call-up hanging in front of their noses, I bet the players will be more turbocharged than ever to bring home the bacon.
As for the Stormers, I do expect to see them at Cape Town Stadium again next week.
Edinburgh will be tough on Saturday, but if they stick to their promise of improving on a weekly basis and if they can keep calm in the big game, then Ulster or Munster will be visiting our shores next week.
And that will mean a completely different ball game.
Now go on guys, bring over the Irish…