Much like last year – a year that most Springbok fans would rather forget – the first XV selected is going to be interesting. One position that could prove to be particularly interesting is the highly important number 10 jumper.
At this point, it seems like Allister Coetzee and crew have adopted a ‘lets forget 2016 ever existed and start fresh’ mentality. That suits us fine.
With that, however, should (hopefully) come a re-imagination of who the best XV in the country are with a view of keeping the nexus of the team together in the build up to what should be a tough 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.
While a number of positions should be interesting; centres, scrum half, loose forwards – who assumes the role of backline general is arguably the most important.
The modern flyhallf role is a critical one. Not only are they responsible for marshalling the backline and creating space for outside backs, they are also responsible for a defensive channel that is highly favoured by bollocking ball carrying loose forwards. If that’s not enough, they also have to convert tries, land penalties and set up appetising lineout positions with their boot.
So in essence, they need to do 3 things well:
Considering the above – who are our options in SA and how do they stack up against the 3 factors? Using Alloutrugby.com’s handy stats portal (as they say, stats don’t lie) – lets take a look at our options before making a call using only stats and form (no reputation/Bok caps etc)
To bring this to life, we have put together a table of current flyhalves plying their trade in Super Rugby and have populated their season totals for all attacking, defensive and kicking stats. (click to enlarge)
- Elton Jantjies prefers to pass rather than run and has made the most passes (which makes sense if you consider the Lions game plan). He also has a solid goal kicking success rate but has one of the lowest tackle completion rates.
- Pollard has a run 50% of the time (he is big unit) and has been dependable on defense. His goal kicking however has been iffy – which is critical on the big stage. Based on the stats – Schoeman is a stronger contender for the Bok number 10 spot (just imagine the green and gold framing his platinum blonde) in that he is solid on defense at at posts.
- In Bloemfontein – Zeilinga’s stats are a surprise; not only is his pass to run ratio healthy – he has made 3 line breaks, tackles at 83% and kicks at 82%. Charl Marais on the other hand is 114 kgs and doesn’t miss tackles and runs more than he passes.
- Pat Lambie has had a miserable season but even so, he tackles at 83%. Bosch, Super Rugby wunderkind, runs often, breaks the line often, and misses tackles often – he is sitting at 63% which is way below international standards at 10.
- Rob Du Preez, the tallest of the 10s in the mix and built in the mould of Handre Pollard, is another strong attacking flyhallf that runs often and rarely misses a tackle. His goal kicking on the other hand lets him down. Jean-luc is still getting over his “niggle” but he is also a solid contender in that he is good on attack and defence but his post work sucks.
- Lionel Cronje has bamboozled with his skill and really made a statement for the Bok jersey. He has made the most line breaks and runs often. However his tackle completion ratio and goal kicking has let him down of late.
What does this mean for who should run out for the Springboks against France?
This is a surprise.
Our starting 10 would be Fred Zeilinger who not only attacks the line, but breaks it too, kicks his goals (82%) and makes his tackles 86% of the time. His back up? With his dependability at poles and on defense – the Eminem of Super Rugby – Tiaan Schoeman.
We are obviously not saying this will come true but it makes for interesting reading. What the above data can’t measure is X factor which players like Jantjies, Bosch and Du Plessis have in spades however what it does leave us with is a solid dependable flyhalf.
What’s your thoughts on the above revelation? Pop us a comment or tweet us @leftbacks and let’s discuss!