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Q&A with Gavin Rich

Our senior rugby correspondent Gavin Rich answered your rugby-related questions on Thursday afternoon.

You can read the questions that were posed, and his answers, below.

The question and answer session has closed.

Questions and answers
Keagan parsons asked:
Hi Gavin

Just wanted to know when do you think jan serfontain will get a start for the boks, and what do you think the bulls chances of making the playoffs next year. Also who do you think should play fullback for the boks, what do you think of Jesse kriel playing 15 for the boks in a few years?

GAVIN RICH answered:
He might get to start this week if Jean is still sick. I watched training yesterday and he was running a lot at centre. But I think he will have to wait his turn because I'm sure Jean will be okay. He is a good one though and has many big international games ahead of him. My fullback long term would be Frans Steyn. Jessie Kriel is one of the options for a few years time.
Ian Burns asked:
I thought that the players that come from Japan except du Preez was off the pace on Saterday they looked Fourie & Pietersen looked slow & unfit your thoughts?
GAVIN RICH answered:
I would agree with you. I made a fuss of the 'Japanese connection' in my match report because of the Fourie/Du Preez combination play that brought the third try, but I thought both Jaque and JP were very rusty before then. The point though is that they have played a game now and will start picking up sharpness and hopefully be ready to play well against France.
Andre asked:
Hi Gavin. I would like your opinion on the handling of Jan Serfontein. His talent is without question but I sometimes wonder if a man of 20 would not benefit more from a CC, S15 season before exposing him to the rigours of Test rugby. I fear that we sometimes break down a special talent because his personal growth is still catching up with his physical abilities. Or am I over-thinking it?
GAVIN RICH answered:
Hi Andre, maybe you are over-thinking it because Jan got to play Super Rugby for the Bulls. I don't think Currie Cup during the understrength phase is of sufficient standard to justify playing him in that competition rather than off the bench/in the squad for the Boks.
Harry asked:
Hi Gavin,
What is your opinion about bringing in some many old Ooms back to the Bok squad?

My wish is that they''ve been brought back purely for mentor purposes; JF for JJ and Jan, Bakkies for PSdT and Eben - and then it is fantastic. What I''m afraid of is thay they''ve been brought back to be the foundation for 2015. Sure for example JdV+JF centre pairing might be stronger today but coming 2015 I have no doubt Jan+JJ will be the way to go.

What is your opinion?
GAVIN RICH answered:
I agree with you but I think that Heyneke is thinking the same way as you are. I don't think he intends Bakkies to be a potential starter at the next World Cup. And having listened to Bakkies speak yesterday, I don't think he thinks that either. He's taking it week by week. Jaque Fourie is a different story. He still has years left in his body and if can regain his old sharpness his defensive organizational abilities are so good I would definitely start with him. Let's wait and see on Jean. I agree that two years is a long way away for him...
Mark asked:
Hi Gavin ,
We know you have like the coach a great obsession with size, however you still do favour Lambie an Willie. My question is what makes Willie a better option than Aplon , who in many rugby knowledge peoples view (Mallet n White etc..) are superior an much braver in defense . Lastly , earlier this year you wrote about Pieter Louw`s comeback at the Stormers. what happened to him as know mention was made thereafter.
Thanks for your time.
GAVIN RICH answered:
Hi Mark. If I was throwing a ball to a dog with the intention of chasing that ball and then getting it back from the dog, I would sooner be doing it to a Jack Russell than a Boerbul, even though I know Jack Russell's have huge hearts and fight to the death. I know because I have one. That is my reasoning in preferring bigger players in the last line of defence. But you are wrong when you say that I rate Willie as a fullback. I think at international level the No15 should be the bravest player on the field, and I don't think Willie is that. But he has played some good games at fullback and surprised me so I think Sunday's game just presents a good chance for us to see, once and for all, whether maybe he is capable of playing fullback in the conditions over here. I would take Aplon ahead of him as a fullback. Not so Lambie. I saw Lambie go down for that kick ahead which eventually resulted in Jean's opening try of the Millennium Stadium game and it summed him up for me - he does have the backbone for the position, and he has better allround attributes than Gio.
solly balata asked:
hi gavin,
what is the reason not running the ball,we have players with skill why not play them with your big guys so that they can score the tries. gio, willie, and siya can be the players to win the world cup in 2013. play them now to make them reddy for 2013.
GAVIN RICH answered:
The Boks won the Millennium Stadium game because of their kicking game. And that is why they play that game. It wins them matches they might otherwise lose.
Marlon Beckett asked:
Hi Gavin, HM has said that continuity in selction will be on of his key elements in his tenure and i am a firm believer in that but at times one needs to manage the player load as i feel that they play too much rugby.Its great to hear Hoskins say that he wants the new format to have less local derbies. Surely a guy like Serfontein would benefit from a game and give JdV a rest.
GAVIN RICH answered:
I agree with you on that one.
MIKE asked:
Hi - why are the Springboks not warming down(stretching. jogging etc.) as soon as they come off the field(especially when injured, substituted or sin binned)?
GAVIN RICH answered:
I didn't study medical/sports science so I can't give you any kind of definitive answer. I will ask the management guys responsible for that when I see them.
Brian Buddell asked:
Hi Gavin ,

Will Johan Goosen get game time on this end of year tour ?
GAVIN RICH answered:
No, Heyneke said at the outset he isn't looking to play him on the tour. And having watched training yesterday, he still isn't running with the rest of the squad so appears to be carrying a light injury. But Heyneke was determined to bring Johan Goosen along on this tour regardless, and to me that is an indication of how highly he rates him. I have a feeling that Goosen might be Meyer's No1 for the 2015 World Cup with Morne Steyn as his No2. It is why he is asking Lambie to move between pivot and fullback so he can be a utility player.
Duane Volschenk asked:
Hi Gavin

My question is, we usually had a strict policy on picking overseas players, now we pick so many of them. Dont you think it is discouraging for the players in South Africa? I dont complain about who he picks. But if im a up and coming player and get a contract overseas I might as well go then
GAVIN RICH answered:
That is the downside and while I have consistently said that the best players should always play regardless of where they are based, there is a limit to how many overseas you can play before it starts to become potentially disruptive and starts to send out the wrong messages. I think we are quite close to that imaginary line at the moment, and reckon the overseas player policy may now be being taken a bit far. Yes, I would imagine it is discouraging for players based back home. I think I have said this before though - there should be an age/experience qualification. Eben Etzebeth is young and only in his second year of top rugby, and shouldn't be allowed to go overseas and still be available as he hasn't repaid the investment SA rugby has made in him yet. Bryan Habana, after all his test matches, is a different story. He's paid his dues. So for that matter have Jaque, Bakkies and Fourie du Preez.
Martin asked:
What do you think the future will held for Francois Steyn as he received long term contract, Does HM have Francois in his world cup plans.
GAVIN RICH answered:
The fact he got a national contract is a sure indication he is in the plans. He is marked down as a utility back, which for me is interesting. I see him as a fullback given that Jan Serfontein is coming through to replace Jean at No12 when he goes. I am not sure the current fullbacks - Le Roux, Lambie, Aplon and Kirchner - can bring what Steyn would bring as a No15.
Marnitz Le Grange asked:
Hi Gavin

What do you think of the return of Bakkies?I see mixed comments about his return,some say we need to give the young players lik Du tiot and Eben playing time togehter. My opion on the return of bakkies is that this could only be Good for the young guys,to feed of his experiance.They can learn alot from him and Eben and Du Tiot will def be the next great lock that SA hase seen. Your piont on bakkies returning?
GAVIN RICH answered:
Bryan Habana seemed to be very genuine yesterday when he spoke of the enormous respect there is within the squad for Bakkies, and the impact he had on the players when he joined. Eben Etzebeth and Pieter-Steph have spoken about the impact and that is good enough for me. There doesn't seem to be any resentment, just eagerness to tap into the value he can bring. To me that is huge.
Peter G asked:
Hi Gavin, regarding this whole Springbok contract story. Only 10 players were offered 2 year contracts to keep these players in SA until the 2015 RWC, most of which were "no-brainers" with the likes of Bizzie, Adriaan, Beast, Alberts, Eben etc. But one that seems to confuse me a bit is Siya Kolisi. He is probably the one guy who is so far from being a Springbok starter, yet Lambie gets overlooked again. Not to mention the young guns like JJ and Serfontein, players who would be more than capable in 2 years time. Also, how does Frans Steyn fit into this picture when he wasn''t even selected for this tour yet has a new 2 year contract ? Can one blame players like Lambie for going abroad ? To me , Heyneker clearly doesn''t have any plans with Lambie in his team. Are rumors true that he is considering a move abroad ?
GAVIN RICH answered:
They see the value that Frans Steyn can bring and he has worked hard on his weight and fitness. He is also experienced and won't be old at the next World Cup. Remember he was only 20 when he won his first one. But on the Siya Kolisi question, all I can say is that it is a very good question. Sorry I can't help you further on that. I am confused as you are.
McLovin asked:
Hi Gav, thanks for taking the time to answer some of our questions. In your informed opinion, why is HM sticking with Gurthro as LH backup to Beast? It seems as if he is much less effective at scrum time and in the loose since leaving the Bulls a couple of years ago. Would Coenie not be a better option as LH cover whilst simultaniously building a partnership with Frans/Lourens and Adriaan as a front row for the future? Lastly, who is our backup 8th man? If Duane should succumb to injury on the eve of the WC, there seem to be no obvious successor who can step in and be just as effective as the mighty Thor.
GAVIN RICH answered:
On the Gurthro question, I think it comes down to Heyneke just being convinced that there is a potential problem at tighthead and he thus feels he needs Coenie to develop. I think that Kitshoff is going to come through as a loosehead in a few years from now, but in the meantime Gurthro probably is the next best if you not going to look at Coenie.
Rudy asked:
Hi Gavin
With regards to the springbok contracts, I''ve noticed that there''s no scrumhalf that has a contract, meaning although our local halfbacks will play their hearts out during Super rugby, HM will stick with players ( Ruan,Jano,Fourie) who''s not even playing rugby in SA. Isn''t this a big concern or a potential problem for HM,as he''s suppose to build a team for the next world cup.
GAVIN RICH answered:
No overseas guys got contracts. The point of the contract is to keep them playing in South Africa. The three scrumhalves are all playing overseas - Fdu Preez is in Japan, Ruan is in Ireland and Jano Vermaak is in France. The only guy I would think may deserve a borderline contract among the local based scrummies is Francois Hougaard if he can get his act together next year. But as I say, the top three are overseas.
Gerrit du Plessis asked:
Do you think we are growing as a team and will be able to beat the All Blacks next year? I understand that Heyneke is building a team and he is doing a great job. Thanks for your time.
GAVIN RICH answered:
I think the Boks are building. Without any shadow of a doubt. This has been one of the most successful post-isolation years for the Boks. On the All Black question though it is hard to say as the Auckland test was marred by the sending off of Bismarck and at Ellis Park I really felt the Boks just played the wrong game in trying to chase four tries. It was laudable to go out and try and win the Championship, but I think a win and measurement against the All Blacks may be more important. If we had failed to win the Championship but had only lost one game all year, the away one against the All Blacks, this would have been a particularly impressive year regardless of the lack of silverware. The Kiwis tell me they don't take the Rugby Championship that seriously and when they play the Boks they just want to beat them. They rank the Bledisloe Cup higher.
Francois asked:
Why is Meyer so reluctant to use the smaller backline players. His worries about their defensive abilities is ungrounded as De Jongh and Aplon tackle really well. De Jongh surely tackles better than Engelbrecht. So what is Meyer''s problem?
GAVIN RICH answered:
See my answer about differences between Jack Russell's and Boerbul's above.
Gerhard asked:
Hi Gavin,we all know Scotland is not a team to take that lightly, but don''t you think it is a good time to bring in Jan Serfontein into inside centre with J.Fourie, and play lambie at 10,with J.Goosen on the bench, willie at 15.. Give Goosen a 15-20 minute burst at the end, while shifting willie to wing and lambie at 15 for last 15-20 minutes... This just makes sense to me with Jean not feeling that well,and resting him... Nice opportunity to see what Goosen,Serfontein can do next to each other...Do you think we must hold on to Morne Steyn??? Think with Lambie and Goosen we have brilliant attacking flyhalves... Something Steyn is surely not. He is only a distributor of the ball.
GAVIN RICH answered:
I think it would be madness to throw Steyn away, though I may not have said that a year ago. Let's see how Pat goes. I would be tempted to play Jan Serfontein in this test, and let Adriaan Strauss captain the team so that Jean is fresh for Paris.
Anthony De Kock asked:
Hi Gavin

I wanted to ask you whether you see a Bok call up for Jaco Taute if he can reach full fitness again. I think he would be perfect for fullback (or frans steyn) the boot and defense is better than any other fullback. But the conondrum comes with Lambie. Where will he play then? also I think they should give de villiers a rest rather and team Serfontein up with fourie... whats your thoughts?
GAVIN RICH answered:
I am glad you reminded me about Jaco Taute. I keep forgetting about him, I suppose for obvious reasons. I never saw enough of him to really take a line, but he has potential and a good season for the Stormers next year should certainly bring him into the frame.
George dw asked:
Hi Gavin, enjoy your articles. My question is about the scrums collapsing and the penalty awarded afterward being a lottery as to which team gets the penalty. Why not take pressure off the ref to make the call, after all none of them have played front row before. As a suggestion, why not have a former, neutral international prop sit in the TMO booth, with a view of both sides of the scrum on a split screen monitor and he then tells the ref why the scrum went down. He can review this while the scrum resets and give his answer or recommendation for a penalty, so no time is wasted. Could that be a solution? Thank you Gavin, enjoy your time in Scotland and remember to try the fried MARSBAR ;-)
GAVIN RICH answered:
If it didn't waste time I would favour it, but I already think rugby is becoming far too over-policed. I'd like to go back to the good old days... but maybe I shouldn't say that. Will try the fried Marsbar, but only if I have done 90 minutes in the gym first. The haggis is fattening enough as it is...
Peter asked:
Hi Gavin. Two questions.
Why is it that the Springboks are playing less matches than the Aussies and All blacks ?
We also tend play a very stereo type of game, even when we playing wide we are pretty predictable, who would you pick at fly half who could change this for us ?
GAVIN RICH answered:
The Aussies and All Blacks do a bit of overkill in my opinion on the Bledisloe. Our fewer matches means the Currie Cup has a window to shine in, albeit a short one, and I think that is important to both the SA rugby bosses and the sponsors.
Kurt Mavrodaris asked:
Hi Gavin,

What are your thoughts concerning the EOYT''s. Do you feel we should consider doing what Jake White did in 2006 for next year? Do you feel key players like the Du Plessis brothers, Jean De Villiers, Adriaan Strauss etc get enough time off for conditioning? Would it also not benefit us in the long run if these guys sat out of next years Currie Cup?
GAVIN RICH answered:
I agree we should do what Jake did. But then if the Boks lose like the Boks did against Ireland in that tour under Jake, we need to remember the bigger picture and not call the coach home to explain himself.
Lubabalo asked:
Pat Lambie was very good at full back(defansively, and mentally) before he shifted to flyhalf 20min in to the game, are we going to see him at no 15 for the rest of the tour
GAVIN RICH answered:
He trained at flyhalf yesterday and that is where I expect to see him on Sunday.
Chris Roux asked:
Hi Gavin.
In regards to players like Carter that will get a chance to rest and condition his injuries to help him be an assset in the World Cup 2015, when will SA rugby start seeing the bigger picture and start doing similar to our players while in the same time building depth.
Why play the exact same players you played 2 years ago and not have them rested (like Morne/JdV/Habana) and build depth in those positions.
Our forwards are building nice depth in all positions but our backs seems to be very limited in depth.
Chris Roux
GAVIN RICH answered:
I agree with all your points, Chris.
NK asked:
Thanks for this platform:

It''s evident that HM wants 2 or 3 class players in every position & I think he is on his way to achieving that except for number 6. Does HM really think Kolisi can fulfil that fetcher role should Louw get injured cause my understanding is that Kolisi is a # 7.
GAVIN RICH answered:
What happens when Francois Louw gets injured is a mystery to me. Last time he was absent, Heyneke went with Marcel Coetzee there. I think he wants all the players to develop their breakdown skills so that losing a No6 won't be such a train smash.
DANIEL asked:
GAVIN RICH answered:
Rory Kockott would be third or fourth choice in SA squad and there are already too many overseas players. There is no doubt that Heyneke rates Pieter-Steph, it is just a case of when he brings him through. The No5 has to run the lineout and Pieter-Steph is only 21 years old. Having said that, in my view, if you can win a Currie Cup final, as Du Toit did a few weeks ago, you are ready to beat Scotland...
Mvomvo Nogwina asked:
Howsit Gavin

1. Whats your take on this story of wealthy rugby schools ''poaching'' players by luring them with promises? Some Eastern Cape schools say they''ve been affected by big schools in Gauteng. A player makes his name in school only to be lured by a second school which claims him as their product. I think its disgraceful as these schools are meant to have a rich rugby heritage.

2. Given how well France played against the All Blacks, Im a little worried they''ll catch us out if we are''nt well prepared. What''s your prediction?

Thanx Gav
GAVIN RICH answered:
Hi Mvomvo. I'm not clued up enough about schools rugby (I left school in 1984) to really comment on what is happening with the poaching. What I do know is that you can never take a line with France. On their day they can be really good, but the next day they can be particularly poor. I think the Boks will be too strong for them though.
chumile senene asked:
i watched the springboks games this year and Morn Steyn may have fixed his kicking as compared to last year and his attack improved but he still stands deep and is awful on defence..my question is not time to start looking at another NO1 fly half?

GAVIN RICH answered:
I think Johan Goosen is the No1 flyhalf in Heyneke's mind. He's just got to get him fit and then keep him fit.
Tazzo asked:
Hi Gavin, comments made by Gatland as to why Wales keep losing to the southern hemisphere sides are simply excuses & that England or France can front up at test level proves otherwise. Your thoughts on this given that Wales are Six Nation Champions?
GAVIN RICH answered:
It's an odd one. Maybe the Welsh are just more motivated when they play their neighbours. A bit like the Scots, who turn into lunatics every time England come into this town. It might be all about history.
Richard asked:
What do you think the prospects are that we will join the new european compeitition once the latest super 15 deal has expired?
GAVIN RICH answered:
I think we will talk about it to use it as leverage in the negotiation process but I don't think it will happen. Sorry guys, I have to shoot across the road now to the team announcement. Been good to chat and sorry my computer shut down suddenly and unexpectedly during the hour because it limited the number of questions I could answer. Hopefully I get another chance next week. Cheers.

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