All Blacks ‘were not at the races’


The Citizen (KZN) - - SPORT - Ru­dolph Ja­cobs

The term “or­di­nary” is not nor­mally as­so­ci­ated with the All Blacks, but that’s ex­actly how they were made to look at Lof­tus Vers­feld last week, ac­cord­ing to former Spring­bok cen­tre Bren­dan Venter.

Af­ter the Boks led the en­tire game, the All Blacks clinched vic­tory in the last minute through a con­verted try by flank Ardie Savea, and Venter be­lieved the hosts had made the New Zealan­ders look very beat­able.

“I had never be­fore seen the All Blacks dom­i­nated by any team as much as they were against the Spring­boks at Lof­tus,” said Venter.

The SA team prob­a­bly did world rugby a favour by ex­pos­ing flaws in the Kiwi sys­tem, and the re­vival of Bok rugby had be­come a re­al­ity un­der coach Rassie Eras­mus, but Venter also joined the de­bate on the much-talked-about late re­place­ments.

“Rugby is a game of flow and feel and in the first five min­utes, as a starter or re­serve, it’s dif­fi­cult to catch your breath,” said Venter, who played in two World Cups for South Africa and col­lected 17 caps be­tween 1994 and 1999.

“There­after, you are able to get into the game and play well.”

With the Boks fac­ing a daunt­ing tour to Europe next month, Venter be­lieved a re­place­ment could not de­liver a proper job by be­ing given just a few min­utes on the field.

“In my opin­ion, Eras­mus should have brought some bench play­ers on with 20 min­utes re­main­ing in the Test,” he said.

“Be­cause they would then have made an im­pact like mod­ern-day fin­ish­ers are sup­posed to.

“I’m sure Eras­mus will ac­knowl­edge the sub­sti­tu­tions he made were not well thought out.”

Venter, who played a lot of rugby at the Chee­tahs with Eras­mus, said a closer look at the cru­cial last 10 min­utes told a story of its own.

“In the fi­nal 10 min­utes of the match, the Spring­boks made five sub­sti­tu­tions com­pared to the All Blacks’ one per­ma­nent switch,” Venter ob­served.

“In the 73rd minute, Em­brose Papier re­placed Faf de Klerk, Bongi Mbonambi swapped with Mal­colm Marx, and Tendai Mtawarira came on for Steven Kit­shoff with six min­utes to play.

“It has ab­so­lutely noth­ing to do with the qual­ity of the play­ers that came on and is in­stead down to the fact it’s well nigh im­pos­si­ble to come on and make a dif­fer­ence straight away.”

Pic­ture: Getty Im­ages


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