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Rugby | SA Rugby

Q&A with Brenden Nel

Our senior rugby correspondent Brenden Nel joined us for a Q&A on Thursday afternoon.

Brenden tackled your questions about the make-up of the Springbok team and the ongoing series between South Africa and England.

Thanks to all who participated. You can read Brenden's answers below.

The question and answer session has closed.

Questions and answers
Dean Berzen asked:
Hi, firstly regarding our game plan, I fell that it is the way forward in rugby, and the way that it should be played, however the misled belief that this style of rugby is boring cannot be justified, what are your beliefs regarding this specific game plan suiting Habana and the fact that de Villiers actually seems a better player at outside centre? What do you make of Aplon being left out?
Brenden answered:
Dean, I think the only style of rugby that works is winning rugby. Rugby has always been about softening the opposition up front and hitting out wide and I dont think it has changed that much. Heyneke knows this and will play anything he feels will win games. I think Jean played well, but I always feel a player must be comfortable where he plays, so I'm glad he looks good outside Frans. As for Aplon, think there is a clear pecking order at the Boks and he needs to fight his way into the side.
Zahir asked:
Hi brendan,firstly I enjoy your imput an knowlege about the game in general,my question is regarding piere spies at 8,I feel he brings nothing 2 the boks game,I feel that duane vermuelen when fit or alberts @ 8 would b a better option especially when burger is back since our game is so direct an with meyer there revolves so much around momentum,I would like your imput on this,I cannot understand the persistance with him?
Brenden answered:
Zahir, I can understand some of the criticism of Pierre, as he has been rather quiet this season. But saying that, he didnt have a bad test on Saturday, was full of running and gave the Boks an extra dimension in the lineout. I think when it comes to choosing between him and Duanne, the lineout may be the factor that the coach takes into consideration.
angelo asked:
Hi Brendan,am just perplexed;i still cant get to terms with the omission of Heinrich Brussow,what was the logic behind that?Cotzee doesnt measure up to his level,we missed him on saturday.
Brenden answered:
Angelo, I would have had Brussow in the squad, but having said that Coetzee played well on Saturday, especially considering it was his first test match. I understand Heyneke's thinking on this and he has the stats to back him. Brussow will have to ensure he changes his mind it seems.
jeandre asked:
Hey guys just wondering if you agree. If you look at the england vs boks game , you could see england strugled under the high ball and that habana was a nightmare for them in that area so would you guys agree that basson is a better pick then mvovo or aplon would be on that asspect? I think basson and habana are the 2 best players in SA when it comes to playing under the high ball and HM picked basson on Marit the best posible player in that position in his game plan , do you guys agree?
Brenden answered:
I thought our tactical kicking was generally poor on Saturday, but did still put England under pressure. Luckily the chase was good. Habana is an expert in this and yes I'd agree Basson is next best.
Franklin asked:
What is the role of a guy Wynand Olivier in the springbok team cause honestly he brings nothing too the party.
Brenden answered:
People forget that Wynand played exceptionally well and became a Springbok under Heyneke. He has been a solid Super Rugby player and while he may not be the public's choice, each coach has players he backs. Remember PDV and Adrian Jacobs?
Andre asked:
Hey guys why did the coach choose such weak barbarians teams? The england B teams beat them with ease. If the barbarians team selected 1 greyling 2 ralaphele 3 pat cilliers 4 sykes 5 bresler 6 kohisi 7 stander 8 strauss 9 van zyl 10 grant 11 le roux 12 de jongh 13 eberson 14 mvovo 15 aplon England might have had too select a stronger team or face a lost which would have put some presure on the england coach and side am I wrong for saying this?
Brenden answered:
Andre, my understanding is that England wouldn't accept playing an SA A team and that the Super Rugby franchises didnt want their players involved. But yes, I would have liked to see a stronger selection to test the English.
Zama asked:
Hi Brendan, kindly explain the inclusion of wynand olivier if we have so many guys in the starting xv that can cover 12. Shouldnt the 21 jersey be reserved for a utility back with an x factor.
Brenden answered:
Heyneke seems to want specialist cover for the midfield in the backline and this is why Wynand is there. But yes, he could have been a bit more adventurous in selection.
Dewaldt asked:
Hi Brenden.Thanks for taking time out to share your knowall.Will Spies ever be consistently good for 2-3 years.Why is Alberts not playing@ 8. What abou Elstadt. Cheers dude and thanks again.
Brenden answered:
As i said above, the lineout factor comes into play and Pierre needs to up his game. As for Alberts, think he's a better 7 than 8 and when Duanne Vermeulen is fit both will be pushed for selection. Elstadt needs to work on his discipline and is too penalty prone at this stage.
Cuan Fester asked:
Why don''t heyneke try new players at 10 and 8?because clearly morn steyn and pierre spies isn''t on form for some time now...don''t a player of pat lambie''s Quality on 10 deserve to get a full 80 there??!not even to mention keaghan daniel at 8!spies never convinced anyone in his 49tests for the bokke...don''t think lambie is a 15 at all,too slow!worldclass 10,so won''t it be a clever move to try him there if morn steyn continues to show his poor form of late?come on heyneke,lambie is a wonderfull talent and I still think he needs a 80minutes at 10 and aplon at 15!
Brenden answered:
Cuan, give the coach a bit of a break mate, he's only had one test. Plus dont agree with you on Morne. Top scorer in the Super Rugby competition thus far. On Saturday his metres gained stats was the third highest in the team and he scored a try. Lambie's time will come and I believe he is a better 15 than 10.
Lyle asked:
Hi Brendan. Not taking anything away from Hougaard, don''t you think Ruan Pienaar is a better option to start, his distribution from the set pieces and breakdowns was a lot better and quicker. The backline had more fluidity and go forward and he brings a better kicking option and also pocesses a X factor. What are the chances of JDV remaining captain for the long term being 31 already or who do you view as the captain for the long haul? Go Bokke.
Brenden answered:
Lyle, I just think Hougaard had a bad half thats all, but also sometimes wonder if he isnt a better wing than halfback. Pienaar was fluid, but Hougi was on the field when the first try was scored, people forget that. Jean won't be long term captain, and I'd reckon either Bismarck or Adriaan Strauss will move into that role at some stage.
Richard asked:
Hi Brenden,

What do you think Heyneke Mayers long term plans are for the Bok no 10 and tighthead.

It sounds like he likes the look of Johan Goosen and Connie at no 3.

Do you agree? And do you think they will be able to fill those positions? Or do you think he will stick with the tried and tested Morner Steyn who is not that old?
Brenden answered:
Richard, I think Goosen will push Morne for a starting spot sooner rather than later, and it will be a good battle between the two. Coenie is seen as a future bok incumbent although he is more a loosehead.
Chris Coleskey asked:
Hi Brenden hope you are well boet.Im just wondering why they did not choose Gio on the bench he can play wing and fullback.I like Basson but he is a bit one dimesional as a player.Youre thoughts on the selection of Basson over Giftige Gio please?
Brenden answered:
Chris, i think Bjorn was ahead of Gio in the pecking order and with Frans Steyn, Ruan Pienaar and Pat Lambie they have enough cover for fullback.
pienkbok asked:
Hey "manne"
Just wanna knw if and when we win 2nd test... Wil there b wholesale changes next week? Lambie at flyhalf elton reserve apples fullback and pienaar at scrummie? Ur thoughts
Brenden answered:
The coaches will tell u they're only looking at this week, but if that happens, I'd doubt it. Heyneke wants a 3-0 scoreline.
Danie asked:
Hi Brendan,

I was quite disapointed with the quality of the Barbarians South vs England game. What is the reason for the baabaas teams being made up of "Vodacom cup" players? I would definately have enjoyed these games more had they chosen Super rugby players who were not included in the Bok group.
Brenden answered:
Danie, as said above, think it was a combination of England not accepting a tough game and the franchises not wanting to release players.
Muhammad Junaid Khatib asked:
Would''nt it have been a better option to play Keegan Daniel At No 8 rather than Spies for the simple reason the loose trio will be familiar with each others Game and Keegan does bring some flair and on paper looks a well balanced Loose Trio?
Brenden answered:
Coaches call mate, and experience is what trumped Daniel here. Also think he is seen more as an openside flanker.
aloys asked:
why is it that southern and norhern s.a barbarians not considered for outbound tours to countries like kenya, uganda, zimbabwe or Namibia yet SAFU claims to assist in these countries rugby development..regards to the splendid job done by supersport all over africa
Brenden answered:
Aloys, good question. They should be. In one way or another teams should tour these countries. But guess finances are the problem.
joe asked:
Hi Brendan, thanx 4 the Q and A. Is the coach crazy for omitting brussouw in his squad? He claims brussouw has not adaptd to the ''new'' laws which we all know is rubbish because he was amazing last year and was one of the leading TACKLE and TURNOVER makers this season until about week 9 in SR.what is the coachthinking here? And dont you think starting with daniel ahead of spies? Daniel has more pace and has the footwork of a winger and he always draws two or three defender b4 making a SBW-like offload
Brenden answered:
Joe, both are coaches calls, and in Brussows case he hasnt had the best season. In Daniels case, it was experience that trumped him.
Samuel Diedericks asked:
Hi Brendan.

Where are Danie Russouw and Gurtro Steenkamp? Did HM considder them before naming his squad for the England tests?

Would like to see Jaques Fourie, Duane Vermeulen also in the mix. Know they are out due to Japan Contract and injury respectively.

PS- I like the new locks, but think Danie would have been great to help the young ones? Is he too old already?
What happened to him?

We can have a super great team with above guys added to the mix. What do you think?
Brenden answered:
Samuel, Last i heard Danie was somewhere in the Bosveld, enjoying his time away from civilisation. He isn't too old, and Heyneke wanted him, but like Fourie and Jaque Fourie there were contractual considerations. I like the squad, and agree with selections with one or two exceptions.
Leonard White asked:
What is Pierre Spies still doing in the bok team.Better 8th man them him in SA.Must be the Blue thing
Brenden answered:
Leonard, explained above, but do yourself a favour and see past the provincial bias.
Harry asked:
Who do you think after last weeks game deserves to be in this weeks team?
Brenden answered:
Harry, open ended question there. I'd do the same as heyneke, keep it as is, and try and build some momentum.
Roger Brown asked:
When Joe Pieterse becomes regains full fitness again,would he be in contention to fit into Heyneke Meyer''s style of play or is he too adventurous?
Brenden answered:
Roger, I'd say he isnt an automatic choice, is small for international rugby and has deficiencies...
Riaan asked:
Hi Brendan,
Two questions:
a) Pierre Spies, would you still select him taking into account the game plan that the boks are using at this stage?
b) Do you think had Johan Goosen not been injurred he would have competed strongly for a nod as starting flyhalf?
Brenden answered:
Riaan, a) yes, but when duanne vermeulen is fit, he will be pushed. b) Goosen would have been in the match 22 for the first test, after that it was up to him.
Johann asked:
Met die huidige reserwes, kan die bokke al die posisies in die agterlyn dek? Sou Aplon nie ''n beter keuse gewees het in plaas van Bason nie?
Brenden answered:
Johan, in a manner yes, but he only joined the team this week and there is enough cover between Frans Steyn and Ruan Pienaar
Johann asked:
Hi Brenden, great to have an opportunity to become more informed again! Thanks!
To me the negative hype about who plays for the Boks is secondary to the mental changes neccessary in Springbok rugby. If we compare ourselves with our southern hemisphere partners, our players spend more time on the ground, we do not work hard enough after the tacle (tackler and tacled) like they do! In other words our concentration and workethic are in questioin related to SH teams and it sounds as if Heinecke has picked up on that and will do something to resolve this! Am I correct and further when will we see the national coach getting involved in age group rugby, as well? To me, the sooner the better!
Brenden answered:
Johan, nice question. Yes agree with you, but think the national coach has too little time to adress skills at this level. Having said that, heyneke and rassie are big on structures, so sure you will see some structural changes going on soon at all levels.
Kallie asked:
Hi Brenden,as a Bull supporter,how about no news reporter or supersport writers has ever mension the name of Izak vd Westhuizen from the Cheetahs.Everybody talks about stats,go and look at his stats.He should have being in contention for higher rankings.He hasnt lost a ball on his own lineout in super 15 and made a number of steels.His clearing well at the ruck and carry the ball well.
Brenden answered:
Kallie, simply because he isnt at that level yet, but if he continues to play well sure he will be noticed.
Wade Anderson asked:
A lot has been said about the springboks being an extension of the blue bulls and i find it a bit strange that we still harping on that even after both match day 22''s have been announced! Both times more sharks feature. I think that initially he has to choose coaches/players that he knows & trusts however given more time to meet & get to know other players more closely i think that the ''Blue Springboks'' will be a fading story, your thoughts??
Brenden answered:
Wade, I couldnt agree more. Heyneke will pick players to win the test, irrespective of where they come from. But some people just love to complain...
Chris Coleskey asked:
Hi Brenden i fear that if we persist with the kick and chase game plan we are going to get whipped by Aus and Nz there backs are to good to receive free running meters.I believe that a combination of the Stormers defense and the Shaks attacking game plan is needed.The Blacks dont like it if you tackle them back and are in there faces.I ask myself why are we stuck with this old predictable ugly game plan?We need to get Mr Nienaber in the coaching team and Mr Meyer must learn to take a chanse and play a defensive-attaking game plan.Thanks
Brenden answered:
Chris, one thing I've learnt from Heyneke in the 14 years I've worked with him as a reporter is that he will play whatever is winning rugby. Given four days to prepare he chose conservatively. Give the coach time. I'm sure he knows this as well.
Glenn asked:
Hi Brendan,

These Q&A sessions are great. Who do you believe are the top three young guns coming through who could potentially feature strongly at Rugby World Cup 2015?
Brenden answered:
Glenn, difficult to say, but I'd venture Johan Goosen, Siya Kolisi and my wildcard Jan Serfontein.
Danie asked:
Hi Brenden
Just with the eye on 2015 WC would you agree that we should give lamby a fixed position, in order to avoid a repeat of Pienaar and Steyn? With goosen likely to be the springbok 10 for many years, would you agree he should become a regular number 15 for sharks and country?
Brenden answered:
Danie, yup would agree...how do we get the sharks to play him in one position as well, as they never did that with frans and ruan.
Mike Willson asked:
Brenden: I managed to catch the Boks training on Wednesday afternoon at St. Stithians. I didnt even know where to look - the amount of balls being kicked was incredible. The tight 5 were practically standing not doing much while the rest of the squad were practicing kicks of all types.
Does the team have training sessions focussing specifically on kicking or is this just part of Meyers'' game plan and something we can expect on the weekend?
Brenden answered:
They do have skills specific training sessions and it was likely that the Meyer wasnt happy with the kicking game and they also expect England to kick a lot this weekend.
Leonie jantjies asked:
Hi Brenden dink as jy SA die 2de toets gan wen dat HM dalk ouens wat ongeluker was om nie die groep gehaal het dalk i kans kan gee om hule staal ook tewys want ek dink rerag i ou soos juan verdien i kans om in oogmerking tekom vir die castle 4nasie wat op hande is.
Brenden answered:
Leonie, answered above, but i doubt it. Heyneke wants a 3-0 sweep
saul asked:
Why on earth is Pierre Spies still in the Bok team? He had been playing poorly for at least 3 years now. When Vermeulen gets fit again, he should walk into the team, but in the mean time, would Joshua Strauss not be the next best??
Brenden answered:
Saul, answered above.
john asked:
Brenden Nel
Would love to hear your opinion on the rugby player you have enjoyed watching most.I cant be to far of with Christian Cullen
Brenden answered:
haha, i used to love and hate Cullie, and Jeff Goldie Wilson as well. Nowadays I have different likes. Players such as Akona Ndungane with his big heart, Dean Greyling's big runs, Deon Fourie's spirit, Coenie Oosthuizen, Beast and Willie le Roux locally. Internationally Sean O'Brien, Ali Williams,Rene Ranger, Izzi Dagg, Sam Warburton and a few others.
danie asked:
What is your take on having more international players in our S15 teams.Surely having nternational stars in our teams can only have a good influence on the young players around them.e.g Thierry Lacroix
Brenden answered:
Not big on it, any international player takes up a spot that should be used for a south african player to come through the ranks
Francois asked:
Hi Brenden

Looking at the first test, do feel Marchelle Coetzee should be chosen ahead of Brussouw? Personally I think he has a much higher workrate than Brussouw. Also, if Schalk Burger returns, would you play Schalk with Marcelle or with Alberts?
Brenden answered:
Francois, i think he deserves his place, but between the three its a difficult one, would probably go with schalk and coetzee...
Ismail asked:
HI Brenden. The current IRB board without a SA rep is worrying. Hopefully this situation does not ''hurt'' us in the long term. What are our options if controversial decision(s) taken by them that works against us? Is it not more appropriate that each of the top 6 or 8 nations have atleast 1 rep on this IRB board with the other posts being filled on merit? Your views? Thanx for your time.
Brenden answered:
The point about that committee is that it is supposed to be the soul, the conscience of the game. Technical aspects are discussed and decisions taken, and it has a very heavy Antipodean influence at the moment, which isnt great.
MR nel i believe in our boks coach i think he is on right track in terms of improving the perfomance of our rugby national team,but lets have a closely look to the issue of omission of brusouw according to your own point of view do you think that was a good decision taken by mr meyer?
Brenden answered:
Maqashu, I answered this above as well. Tough call.
Ismail asked:
Hi Brenden. For the sake of continuation & consistency, would Dawie Theron actually become the next Springbok coach seeing that the next batch of ''Bok players will be coming thru the ranks under his mentorship? That is obviously only if he wants the ''pressure cooker'' seat! This will also lend some stability & postiveness going forward.
Brenden answered:
Ismael you should know SA Rugby better than that, not saying it wont happen, but a lot can happen before then.
Tumelo asked:
Hi Brenden,

Thanks for your time, I think Lambie is a good addition to the team but I''m a bit worried about the balance of our bench in this game your thoughts.
Would you keep Seph in the blind side even when the baby Boks capt is fit for the game against Argentina?
Brenden answered:
I think we're fine in terms of balance and our bench can play an impact. Secondly think it would be tough, but Wian will be there if fit.
Armand asked:
Hi Brenden

Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions.

Why would HM not start with Pienaar ahead of Hougie for this test? If he says he''s playing horses for courses isn''t Pienaar more suited for this?

His tactical kicking is much better and he understands the Pommies much better so his decision making will be more accurate (as is hammered so much on by HM)?

Your thoughts on this?
Brenden answered:
a week ago everyone would have been up in arms for that statement. Hougi had one bad half thats all. Keep faith in him.
Michael asked:
Considering the poor attempts last week, who would you like to see kick for goal on Saturday? Patrick or Morne?
Brenden answered:
Not even a thought about it, morne of course.
Danver Isaacs asked:

So much has been, and still is, made of the talent and strength of SA''s locks in the line-outs. Bakkies & Victor are gone, but a lot of young talent are coming thru (Etzebeth & Kruger, for eexample). It was said that that is where SA''s strength lies over England. Yet, last Saturday we lost 3 balls in the line-out and England none! How do you explain that? And, in the scrums, the opposition also scrum in order to either win the ball or at least, give the other team a bad ball. Why don''t the players, during a line-out, also jump for the ball (at all times on the opposition throw) in order to try and win the ball or, at least, try to give the opposition a bad ball?
Brenden answered:
Danver, it was the guys first time together as a combination and the first test each played. They're entitled to nerves. They will be better this week.
denver asked:
do we have a backup number 8?if spies gets injured.
Brenden answered:
Yes, Alberts and Daniel can play 8
Desmond Salhab asked:
Hi Brenden

I think the Boks first game was pritty good considering it was there first game as a new team and coach. but a lot of the public seem to think diffrently to me and say the team wasent very good what do you think
Brenden answered:
It was a good performacne in the second half, considering the time the team had together.
peter williams asked:
Your article re Hougaard vs Pienaar today is contradictory and yet you prefer Hougaard above Pienaar, why?
Brenden answered:
Not really, hougaard would always be my number one choice. He has something special. Pienaar played well on the weekend though.

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