CAPE TOWN – When it comes to talent at flyhalf, South Africa sure has no shortage.
There’s Handre Pollard, whose quality needs no introduction.
There’s Elton Jantjies, whose talent and X-factor is perhaps only overshadowed by the constant nay-saying from keyboard warriors the pivot has to deal with.
There’s Gianni Lombard, a special one whose acceleration off the mark is only one of the attributes he presents in an attractive attacking package.
Then there’s Damian Willemse, hailed as the future of Western Province rugby when he burst onto the Super Rugby scene a couple of seasons ago…with good reason.
And let’s not forget Curwin Bosch.
How much more flyhalf material can one country work with?
It’s almost a pity when you think that all of those resources have come through in one generation. All of them (including those who haven’t yet) have the raw ability to wear the green and gold. But not all of them will have the honour of having a long international career in the No 10 jumper.
The bigger pity, though, is the fact that not all of those 10s are being used properly.
And it’s a debate that’s become almost stale.
While I can understand that Willemse’s situation is perhaps heavily influenced by Rassie Erasmus’ World Cup plan, Bosch’s doesn’t have that room for reasoning.
Stormers coach Robbie Fleck has previously said the Bok boss requested Willemse get some game time at fullback as that is where Erasmus wants to use him.
Guess that’s understandable… but not entirely justifiable.
Why do we have to convert a flyhalf into a fullback in the first place?
Is it because Erasmus sees Pollard as his cemented flyhalf and wants to make place for Willemse elsewhere?
Is it because he wants the young Willemse to assess and learn from the back as he continues to grow before moving him into the highway-like channel? Perhaps, after all, he’s said so before.
But seeing Willemse being moved around, for the sake of whatever, is frustrating, especially seeing as there hasn’t been a series of commanding performances by those who are selected at 10 for the Cape side anyway.
And what’s the deal with Bosch?
If ever there was a situation that explained nepotism better than the Oxford dictionary, the situation at the Sharks would be it. That or Robert du Preez Senior just believes in giving his average-performing 10 chance after chance, and not just because of their familial link. Dunno.
Whatever it is, it’s unclear what Bosch still has to do to get in at 10, and it seems impossible to figure out what Du Preez Junior must still do, or not do, to warrant a “rest”.
That Willemse and Bosch aren’t being used at 10 is bizarre, whatever the extenuating factors.
Again, ranting over this week in and week out is stale. I get it.
And no amount of flyhalf talent roaming around South Africa will ever justify wasting two of the best.