CAPE TOWN – Rugby analyst Mark Keohane shares his raves and rants following a busy rugby weekend.
1. Damian Willemse is one of the most talented young backs in South African rugby. You only have to go back a few seasons when he scored one of the most brilliant individual tries against the Bulls in the Currie Cup.
He was playing flyhalf that day and on Saturday, as a fullback, he was as dazzling in dismantling the Bulls as the Stormers turned a Round One 40 point defeat into a one point victory against the same opposition. Willemse, at fullback or flyhalf, is showing why he will go to the World Cup.
2. It was the younger Barrett brother, Jordie, who sizzled this past weekend. Jordie Barrett advanced his claims to be in the All Blacks World Cup squad with a seriously good attacking display for the Hurricanes against the Chiefs.
Barrett scored two tries but it was his effort in the sixth minute that underlined all his attacking attributes. He got the ball 40 metres out, beat two defenders with pace with an angled run, sold the most glorious of dummy passes, straightened and beat the covering tackle for a marvelous try.
3. There isn’t a New Zealand Super Rugby franchise that has an issue with the quality of wingers. But my goodness Crusaders winger Sevu Reece is making an impact this season. He is only 22 years-old, was without a Super Rugby contract at the start of the year but is now being tipped as an All Blacks bolter.
He is small by New Zealand wing standards but his size doesn’t reflect his power. Just ask Lions loose-forward Kwagga Smith, who was bounced in the most dramatic fashions en-route to one of Reece’s two tries.
1. The Stormers must be cursed as much as championed after beating the Bulls at Newlands. The final score may have just been a point but this win was emphatic. It begs the question where these Stormers have been all year? It’s the inconsistency of the Stormers over the past three to four seasons that has been the biggest consistency. It is what infuriates me about watching them.
They produce the kind of game – as against the Bulls – that is a reminder of why there is always so much hope pre-season. Unfortunately, it’s become a one in five match return. How did they lose the Brumbies and the likes of the Reds and then thump the Bulls? They truly are a supporters’ nightmare.
2. Ditto the Sharks: They match the Stormers for inconsistency. A lot has been said of how they struggle to play at home because of the weather conditions and the humidity.
I don’t buy that because the opposition who visit Durban also play in the same conditions. The Sharks’ win against the Waratahs was made easier because the hosts lost a player to a red card midway through the second half, but the attitude of the Sharks players was in contrast to a fortnight ago when the Jaguares pumped them. Which explains the anger among those who back the Sharks.
3. Sharks coach Robert du Preez has consistently backed his out of form son Rob at flyhalf throughout the season. Du Preez, when he has had Curwin Bosch available has chosen to play him at fullback or use him as an impact player.
Bosch’s performance against the Waratahs showed the extent of the prejudice to his earlier omission as a flyhalf starter. Du Preez (senior), according to Tony Watson’s open letter to Independent Media, stated that his flyhalf son picks himself.
Bosch’s performance in Sydney makes a mockery of the Sharks coach.