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Rugby | Springboks

Francois Louw © Gallo Images

Louw set for Bok recall



Springbok coach Allister Coetzee will most likely be forced to look abroad to bolster the squad in the wake of the embarrassing 57-0 defeat at the hands of the All Blacks in Albany this past weekend.

While the Boks have been given the week off to lick their wounds, Coetzee will be looking to bring in replacements for the injuries to Coenie Oosthuizen and Jaco Kriel ahead of the final two games in this year’s Castle Lager Rugby Championships and must surely be looking at some other changes ahead of two massive games in his tenure as Bok coach.

The damage done by Saturday’s massive defeat is still telling, but Coetzee did say on arrival back that he would take stock of the injuries and look to some players who were part of the squad in the last two seasons to see if the team could well be strengthened by their inclusion.

One of these is likely to be Bath captain Francois Louw, who has made the most turnovers in the Premiership this season while a recall for Springbok winger Ruan Combrinck can’t also be too long away.

“It was a massive setback losing Jaco Kriel, losing Coenie and Ross Cronje in the day of the test. Jaco Kriel and Siya (Kolisi) have played a fantastic sort of role with Siya being a fetcher and ball carrier and Jaco Kriel.

"The fetching role is quite crucial, we will be looking at what we have back home and if we don’t have, certainly we will be looking at players who have been part of this squad last year and who were part of the team at the beginning of the year, for example Francois Louw and so on. Yes we will have a look at those type of players,” Coetzee offered on returning home from the horror trip to the antipodes.

But while there were certainly players who need to come under the microscope, Coetzee would not attribute blame to individuals.

The Bok setpiece was a non-starter during the game and Malcolm Marx missed his jumpers way too many times for comfort. While the entire team didn’t have a good game, the nine missed tackles by winger Raymond Rhule are glaring errors that cannot afford to be ignored.

Still, Rhule doesn’t pick himself and there were already question marks raised in Super Rugby when he ended the tournament as the player with the most missed tackles. Still the Bok management forged on, so the blame is to lie nowhere but at their doorstep.

BIG STRIDES

“I don’t want to blame individuals for this. We are all in this, but the players know that. It is not the right thing to look at individuals, it is knee jerk to make wholesale changes. We will stick to our processes. I think this is a great learning experience for players to see what it takes against the best in the world under that kind of pressure and away from home.

"I still feel that we have made massive strides against Australia. This team has shown massive character and we should have won that test. A couple of calls didn’t go our way in that test match and it would have been a different story altogether against New Zealand.

“The expectation will always be there, and we will always give ourselves a chance, but the reality is that with eight players coming back, and they had a good plan resting those players against Argentina, those players coming back, playing with emotion of Wayne Smith’s last game with them, being criticised for the narrow wins they had, it just worked for them.”

Coetzee said he could only offer Bok supporters hope and would “focus on the rainbows, not the storms” – singling out Andries Coetzee as one of the positives from the whitewash.

“It is tough, it isn’t easy, but I don’t think Rome was ever built in one day. When you go through a transition, mistakes were made and you are learning from it, and all of a sudden you have a completely new team this year, I believe what I need to focus on is not on the storms, but on the rainbow also. Andries Coetzee was outstanding in Saturday’s test match.

"He almost didn’t put a foot wrong, maybe shot out of line once but other than that a clinical performance. And the way we’ve covered those kicks through Courtnal as well. For players who played for the first time against New Zealand, they’ve shown courageous form and way of play and I’m proud of that.”

The Bok coach may be clutching at straws in the aftermath of the Boks heaviest defeat at the hands of the All Blacks but Albany can never be reclaimed.

The bigger question is what his plan is now, and which personnel he will use to get the Boks out of the deep hole they have landed themselves in.

POLLARD RELEASED

Meanwhile, on Monday, Handré Pollard (flyhalf) and Damian de Allende (centre) were among seven Springbok players released to play in the Currie Cup this coming weekend.

The Springbok duo will join Dillyn Leyds (utility back), Wilco Louw (prop, both DHL Western Province), Chiliboy Ralepelle (hooker), Dan du Preez (loose forward, both Cell C Sharks) and Rudy Paige (scrumhalf, Vodacom Blue Bulls) in Currie Cup action for the respective provinces this weekend.

Pollard came on as a second-half replacement for the Springboks against the All Blacks on Saturday in Albany, his first test appearance since the 2015 Rugby World Cup. He has struggled with an ankle injury for the most part of the season, which limited his playing time.

De Allende has been a member of the national squad this year but he too has seen limited action behind the Springboks’ preferred centre pairing of Jan Serfontein and Jesse Kriel.



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