Watch Dubuisson – McGinley
Ryder Cup captain says Frenchman could be a good bet at Sun City
HEYNEKE Meyer has ticked a lot of boxes in his time as Springbok coach; the most significant being the depth he has created in the national squad.
In almost every position there are three or four players lining up to start. And, more often than not, it doesn’t matter who starts and who plays off the bench; the Boks remain a powerful, well-oiled unit, even if they don’t always fire on all cylinders or make the right decisions.
But no one can say the Boks don’t have quality players across the park. Meyer’s done brilliantly to blend the youth with the experience and he’s never been shy or scared to take a chance on a youngster. He’s a great spotter of talent and he’s rewarded those who’ve done well domestically and in Super Rugby.
And that is why this weekend, against Italy, Meyer needs to gamble somewhat and take a chance on a few players. Because, let’s be honest here, do we know the identity of our third choice hooker, do we know who our second choice props are, do we know who’d wear the No 5 on his back if Victor Matfield didn’t make it to the World Cup?
Bismarck du Plessis and Adriaan Strauss have been Meyer’s hookers from the start of 2012 and it would appear the injured Schalk Brits is next in line, but what if one of these men are injured come the World Cup? Robbie Coetzee’s Bok tour ended because of injury, but now Scarra Ntubeni has an opportunity ... surely he should get a game to see if, indeed, he is Test quality.
Jannie du Plessis and Tendai Mtawarira have been the first choice props for years now, but let’s say both are ruled out of the World Cup, what then? Many of the men Meyer has invested in are also crocked at the moment – Marcel van der Merwe and Frans Malherbe, to name two – and that hasn’t help in building front row depth, but now’s the perfect time to try Julian Redelinghuys, Coenie Oosthuizen (again) and even Ruan Dreyer.
And surely Lood de Jager can get another go in the Test arena, just to again see what he offers the team should anything untoward happen to Matfield between now and the World Cup.
And, considering the battering Duane Vermeulen has taken this year, why not start Warren Whiteley or Nizaam Carr this weekend – both men bring something completely different to the No 8 role – while at the back surprise tourist Johan Goosen needs to be re-examined at this level.
I’m not for one minute suggesting Meyer make wholesale changes for the Italy clash, but for the sake of having some of his pre-tour questions answered in two weeks’ time he needs to throw some guys into the deep end this weekend.
EUROPE’S inspirational Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley has tipped Frenchman Victor Dubuisson as a player who could set the tournament alight when he makes his debut in next month’s Nedbank Golf Challenge at Sun City.
“Victor is a guy with incredible talent who you’re going to look to as a potential Major winner in the next few years,” said Ireland’s McGinley who led Europe to victory over the United States at Gleneagles in Scotland in September, and was in Johannesburg yesterday as a guest of Investec who sponsor him..
“Victor is a shy, humble guy – the complete opposite to, say, an Ian Poulter.
“But he’s got so much game. One of my goals as Ryder Cup captain was to get to know every player as intimately as possible many months before Gleneagles, and I especially flew out to Malaysia to have dinner with Victor for four nights and then to Monte Carlo for a couple of nights.”
McGinley figured he would pair him with the experienced Graeme McDowell in the foursomes in the Ryder Cup, as he knew the potential that this 24year-old Cannes-born golfer had, and that McDowell would be able to bring out the best in the young Frenchman in the format of the Cup where players play alternate shots.
“If you look back at the stats, it was the foursomes – where teamwork is so important – that won Europe the Ryder Cup. We took the foursomes 7-1 and although in the fourballs and singles the Americans actually had a two-point advantage, our foursomes dominance was the key in the end.
“Victor is only 24 – the same age as Rory McIlroy – and in golf that means he’s only a kid. He was the number one amateur in the world before he turned pro and he’s got a huge future ahead of him, so – yes – he could be a player to watch at Sun City.”
Half the victorious European Ryder Cup team – that’s six players – are in the Nedbank line-up, besides Dubuisson the others being former world No1s Lee Westwood, and Martin Kaymer, defending champion Thomas Bjorn, Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher and Welshman Jamie Donaldson.
McGinley was meticulous in ensuring every detail was in place before the Ryder Cup and felt he could bring out the best in debutant Donaldson – who finished second behind Bjorn in last year’s Nedbank Challenge – by pairing him withthe experienced Lee Westwood. And it proved a smart move because in the foursomes Westwood and Donaldson beat Jim Furyk and Matt Kuchar 2 up on the Friday and Kuchar and Zach Johnson 2/1 on the Saturday.
So there’s Dubuisson and Donaldson – two players perhaps not too well known with South African fans, but who are likely contenders to hit the jackpot when the world-class 30-man line-up shoots for glory over the Gary Player Country Club course from December 4-7.
McGinley was asked if he felt a player can only be regarded as a great player if he has a Major victory under his belt, but he wasn’t happy to go along with that line of thought.
He compared Colin Montgomerie, who topped the European Order of Merit an uncanny seven times but never won a Major with American Ben Curtis, who won one British Open but has done little else by comparison and reckoned that you’d have to go with Monty.
The entire field for the Nedbank Challenge has not been finalised yet and there could be five, six, seven or even eight South Africans in the line-up. The fans will probably be rooting for our boys, but – as McGinley points out – they’ll have to play some to beat the likes of Dubuisson and Donaldson.
KING OF SWING: Paul McGinley‘s captaincy was key in Europe’s Ryder Cup victory over the United States but the 47-year-old Irishman is still a fine player himself.