Solid mid­field op­tions rock­ing Coet­zee the right way

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - VATA NGOB­ENI The barn­storm­ing Bulls cen­tre turned back the hands of time to a pe­riod in his ca­reer where he was the best inside cen­tre in the world at ju­nior level and a fu­ture so­lu­tion for the Boks with his all-round dis­play with ball in hand and on def

TALK ABOUT be­ing stuck be­tween a rock and a hard place.

That is where Spring­bok coach Al­lis­ter Coet­zee finds him­self when con­sid­er­ing his riches at cen­tre af­ter Jan Ser­fontein’s stellar per­for­mance in the sec­ond Test against France last week­end.

The re­turn to form of Ser­fontein, pic­tured, has been a bless­ing in dis­guise for Coet­zee af­ter he en­dured a ter­ri­ble 2016, when he was thin on his stocks in the mid­field.

More­over, it has cre­ated a pleas­ant mi­graine that could see Coet­zee be­ing spoilt for choice come the Rugby Cham­pi­onship and end of year tour. his bless­ings at inside cen­tre with four qual­ity play­ers at his dis­posal, he will also have to take care­ful con­sid­er­a­tion on who will com­ple­ment Ser­fontein at No 13.

Ser­fontein’s Bulls team­mate Jesse Kriel has seem­ingly done enough in the first Test to war­rant a fair run at out­side cen­tre and will in all prob­a­bil­ity form the Boks mid­field pair­ing in the third and fi­nal Test at El­lis Park on Satur­day but it is not a com­bi­na­tion set in stone go­ing for­ward.

Lions cen­tre Lionel Mapoe has been by far the stand­out per­former in Su­per Rugby out of all the South African out­side cen­tres and did lit­tle wrong in his out­ing against the French in the last game be­fore the se­ries against France.

Coet­zee has al­ways rated Am and last year spoke glow­ingly of his de­fen­sive abil­i­ties but it has been his work with ball in hand that has given the Sharks some vari­a­tion in the man­ner in which they at­tack from the back.

Add to Am’s arse­nal his abil­ity to scav­enge op­po­si­tion ball at the break­down and Coet­zee can­not ig­nore the ex­cit­ing tal­ent that the man from King Wil­liamstown brings to the party.

As hard a place as Coet­zee may find him­self when choos­ing the per­fect fit in the mid­field, when all these op­tions are avail­able, for the Boks go­ing for­ward, he will un­doubt­edly pre­fer to be in this tight spot than where he was last year – scram­bling in the wilder­ness for any player that could just wear the No 12 and 13 jer­seys.

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