Boks, show us what you are made of

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION & ANALYSIS -

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.

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