Hire Fourie to coach up Cheslin!

Daryn Katz

When South Africa played the Barbarians at Wembley Stadium in 2016, we saw a proper David-versus-Goliath match-up. Only, in this particular version of history, it was Goliath who came out on top during a key moment in the game.

On the verge of half-time, Taqele Naiyaravoro rumbled upfield with nothing between him and the try-line, except for  Sergeal Petersen.

Petersen’s a prodigiously talented rugby player and is a real pleasure to watch in full flight. But he fell off Naiyaravoro like an autumn leaf from a tree, and the giant went on to score.

Should we have expected anything different? Naiyaravoro is 1.94m tall and weighs 123 kg, while Petersen is 1.71m and 82kg.

Considering the intimidating dimensions of Naiyarovoro, as well as other international backline flyers such as Rieko Ioane (1.89m, 102kg), Israel Folau (1.93m, 103kg) and George North (1.94m, 109kg), can significantly smaller South African outside backs like Sergeal, Courtnall Skosan and Raymond Rhule genuinely match these international opponents?

Again, I must stress that I often enjoy watching these guys play. There’s a lot to be said for individual brilliance, solid tackling technique, an ability to be coached and a willingness to keep working on one’s perceived weaknesses. And I do believe there’s a place in Test rugby for a lot of these players. Bryan Habana and Shane Williams, for example, weren’t big athletes but they lit up the world stage. The key question though is how do you best maximise certain players’ strengths?

No doubt, players have a preference when it comes to where on the field they play. But surely they shouldn’t be blind to guidance and suggestion from wise and experienced rugby brains?

Nick Mallett has stated on record that he believes Cheslin Kolbe could reign supreme at scrumhalf.  Kolbe’s similar in size to Aaron Smith, arguably the best No 9 on the planet. He also has instinctive vision, a cracking step, and he can pass and kick well too. Plus he’s already played at scrumhalf for the Blitzboks. Right now, Kolbe’s lost to the Boks while playing in France. But he’s still only 24 years old.

The Boks currently have a dearth of scrumhalves. There are a few youngsters showing promise at local unions but they’re yet to make consistent appearances or even play beyond Currie Cup level.

A novel suggestion would be to take special talents like Kolbe, Petersen and Rosko Specman and develop them at scrumhalf. Why wouldn’t Rassie Erasmus rope in Fourie Du Preez, who has gleaned so much coaching intellectual capital by playing for Eddie Jones in Japan, to school this trio in all facets of halfback play?

Imagine the explosiveness these guys could bring to the positon. Their collective ability to snipe around the fringes could well be a sight to behold.

While I’m at it, let’s compare some more apples to apples. Take three more remarkable SA youngsters: Sikhumbuzo Notshe (1.86m, 102kg), Zain Davids (1.81m, 104kg) and Hacjivah Dayimani (1.88m, 99kg). They’re all currently playing at loose forward for their respective franchises. Notshe is a blend between Ardie Savea and the aforementioned Ioane, and Davids is SA’s version of Ngani Laumape; both played a bit at centre at school level while Dayimani runs the 100 meters in 10.7 seconds.

I say leave the back-row to rising loose forward superstars like Jean-Luc Du Preez and Juarno Augustus who tip the scales beyond 110 kilograms and have Notshe, Davids and Dayimani terrorise opposition defences from the back.

Tell me this backline isn’t intimidating: 9 Cheslin Kolbe, 10 Handre Pollard, 11 Sbu Nkosi, 12 Zain Davids, 13 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 14 Hacjivah Dayimani, 15 Frans Steyn

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- Daryn Katz

Let's chat

  • Pierre

    I agree, Kolbe could be the answer at scrumhalf for the Boks. He will never become a Springbok if he continue to play at wing/fullback. The opposition will exploit his size. He could be very dangerous as a scrumhalf. The opposition will have to put enough defenders close to the ruck to watch Kolbe and that will create more space out for other players to attack

    • DK

      I can just see him bamboozling his opponents with his twinkletoes close to the ruck, bobbing and weaving through tight spaces. You are right, I reckon. He could suck in the defence and gain some ground and open up holes elsewhere.

  • Jan L

    I agree with those suggestions and will even go one further by suggesting that Ox Nche, taking his size in consideration, to be moved to hooker.

    • DK

      I dig the Ox! Exciting player. Bright future.

  • Peter

    Sicumbuzo Notshe has developed at Stormers/Province into a powerful,versatile and lightning fast flank.
    While i appreciate your sentiment of placing that talent in the backline; i truly dont see him reaching his full potential there. On the other hand you might be spot on with regards Cheslin Kolbe and Zain Davids…..they seem to fit that picture perfectly…..my bias is towards Robert du Preez Jnr at flyhalf and im hoping that he lights up Super 15 this year for the Sharks; so as to make it extremely difficult for the selectors to ignore him for the flyhalf berth.

    • DK

      Fair points. Rob Du Preez jnr was playing well come the business end of last year’s CC. Hope he can carry that form into SR and beyond.

  • Shukre

    What are you smoking? He first needs to learn how to catch and pass. Have we learnt nothing from the failed Hougard at scrum half disaster? If a player (any player) is good in a position he should have already excelled in that position when he reaches the springboks. We cannot create a springbok in any position in a few months, it takes years and years and with the current Springbok circumstances we do not have the luxury of wasting our National time on an experiment due to fail.
    In Cheslin’s case he is a sprinter and should stick to athletics… or at least 7’s

    • DK

      You have reasonable criticisms but I contend that, with effective development structures and player management in place, it could work. As an aside, what do you reckon will happen today if Ross Cronje gets injured when The Lions play The Sharks. There is no back-up 9 on the bench. What is Swys’s plan? Will Dyantyi serve as replacement? Or maybe even Kwagga? Imagine that…

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