Boks, show us what you are made of
ONE OF the measures of a sportsman, woman or team is how they react under pressure. When the battle is at its fiercest, can they make the same calm decisions and play their natural game as in practise?
Or do they mentally succumb and make a series of rash mistakes?
The pressure and the heat in the Springbok kitchen will certainly be scalding hot when they run out at Loftus tomorrow for the first of three Tests against the French.
The Boks had a miserable 2016, and there was widespread anger and disappointment among fans and pundits alike when they lost to Italy in their final game of the season to give them just four wins in 12 matches.
Coach Allister Coetzee and his team certainly have a lot to make up for.
At least there have been some bright signs so far this year.
The Boks have a new captain in Warren Whiteley, who is exactly the kind of player who can blow away the clouds of doom.
The Lions have delighted South African rugby fans with their wonderful brand of 15-man rugby and it is a positive sign that Coetzee has included so many Lions, including Whiteley, in his squad.
Of course, the Boks need to get the basics of the game right, but they must evolve into a team who play with creativity and freedom as well – and their coach should set the tone.
It’s odd that Coetzee so often retreats into conservative talk and tactics. As a player, he was a feared South African Rugby Union scrumhalf and captain who could be devastating with the ball in hand.
The Boks have certainly been making a lot of positive noise this week at their press conferences, but when the whistle blows at 5pm they know that “talk will be cheap, but money will buy the whisky”.
As South Africans, the Boks can count on our full support and our loud shouts urging them on.
We hope tomorrow will be the start of a new, vibrant era in Springbok rugby.