The Boks’ crème de la crème

The Spring­boks have made a crack­ing start to 2017, whip­ping the French 3-0. Our five In­de­pen­dent Me­dia rugby writ­ers re­flect on the Bok per­for­mance and choose, among other things, their man of the se­ries, mo­ment of the se­ries and mo­ment to for­get ...

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT -

El­ton Jan­tjies. Eben Etze­beth.

MAN OF THE SE­RIES Jan Ser­fontein.

The in­side cen­tre got his chance when the likes of Ro­han Janse van Rens­burg and Damian de Al­lende were ruled out with in­jury and, boy, did he grab it. The Bulls man was a tower of strength in de­fence and he looked Ser­fontein. The former World Player of the year had this la­tent po­ten­tial wait­ing to be un­locked, and it seems the Spring­boks of 2017 have the key.

SIZ­ING UP THE COACHES

Coaches se­lected by Al­lis­ter Coet­zee have been the threat­en­ing ev­ery time he touched the ball. Pure class.

SIZ­ING UP THE COACHES

Al­lis­ter Coet­zee’s se­lec­tions were mainly spot-on, while the game­plan, too, suited those play­ers. The ad­di­tion of Franco Smith and Bren­dan Ven­ter is clear to see and has boosted the team sig­nif­i­cantly – the de­fence is es­pe­cially much-im­proved. With Matt Proud­foot and Jo­han van Graan, they look a happy camp.

STAR OF THE BACK­LINE El­ton Jan­tjies.

He went into the se­ries with a ques­tion mark hang­ing over his head: Was he the real deal at Test level or sim­ply a Su­per Rugby player? He showed he can wear the No 10 for many years to come. He kicked su­perbly and his game man­age­ment was top notch.

STAR OF THE FOR­WARDS Franco Mostert.

Well done to coach Coet­zee for back­ing Lions lock Mostert. The fairly string-bean sec­ond row for­ward stood back for no-one, tack­led like a man pos­sessed and ran the dif­fer­ence. He has been able to pick Franco Smith and Bren­dan Ven­ter in at­tack­ing and de­fen­sive roles re­spec­tively, and guess what? – the at­tack and de­fence of the Boks has been su­perb, while the head coach has been able to fo­cus on his man man­age­ment.

STAR OF THE BACK­LINE El­ton Jan­tjies.

He has been the form flyhalf for two years run­ning now and while last year was one to for­get, he has ma­tured into a true Test flyhalf that can deal with the heat. The faith in him has paid div­i­dends, and he can now duke it out with the world’s best and be his own best.

STAR OF THE FOR­WARDS Siya Kolisi.

Kolisi was on the precipice of be­ing messed around by the Spring­boks with line-outs like a sea­soned pro. He, too, has a bright Bok future.

MO­MENT OF THE SE­RIES

Ross Cronje’s try at Lof­tus when War­ren White­ley called the throw on him at the back of the line-out was won­der­fully ex­e­cuted. It showed how aware the Boks were of the space avail­able af­ter the French full­back had been sin-binned. A close sec­ond was the line-out move in­volv­ing Ser­fontein at El­lis Park on Satur­day, which led to Eben Etze­beth’s try.

MO­MENT TO FOR­GET

War­ren White­ley be­ing ruled out of his home Test. He didn’t de­serve that; not af­ter play­ing such a big role in help­ing the team turn things around this sea­son. Siya Kolisi. their in­ten­tion to mould play­ers to fit. This year Kolisi has been asked to be him­self, and he has done so with aplomb, tak­ing his Su­per Rugby form for­ward to the na­tional level with no fuss.

MO­MENT OF THE SE­RIES

It may seem small, but Rudy Paige’s try, and the sub­se­quent cel­e­bra­tion as the lit­tle man was en­gulfed by the whole team in cel­e­bra­tion, was a huge sign. It proved the Boks are a happy team, play­ing for each other, and hell bent on suc­ceed­ing.

The hasty brand­ing of MTN’s spon­sor­ship logo on the jer­seys. It says a lot about the pos­i­tives of this se­ries when the worst thing to be wit­nessed was the bright yel­low clash­ing oval of MTN’s logo on the Bok jer­sey.

MO­MENT TO FOR­GET

of ev­ery match and, for a hith­erto un­her­alded Spring­bok, he has set the stan­dard re­gard­ing in­dus­try on and off the ball. Mostert played like ev­ery fi­bre of the jer­sey meant some­thing to him

SIZ­ING UP THE COACHES

Last year the coach­ing staff were, let’s be hon­est, noth­ing short of ter­ri­ble. No idea for the play­ers to fol­low, no plan, no noth­ing. In has come Bren­dan Ven­ter to fix the de­fence and Franco Smith to give en­thu­si­asm to the at­tack, while Al­lis­ter Coet­zee has over­seen it all.

STAR OF THE BACK­LINE Jan Ser­fontein.

This was the se­ries where we fi­nally saw Ser­fontein come close to re­al­is­ing the po­ten­tial he showed when he won the IRB Ju­nior Player of the Year in 2012. He was ex­cep­tional to play the way they did and for his se­lec­tions. Ven­ter de­serves praise for the Boks’ progress in de­fence. And the same can be said about Franco Smith’s at­tack­ing hand.

STAR OF THE BACK­LINE El­ton Jan­tjies.

Full­back An­dries Coet­zee had a solid se­ries and Jan Ser­forn­tein was a stand out in the third, but Jan­tjies gets the nod for his con­sis­tent show­ings. Out­stand­ing in the first Test, he han­dled the Jan Ser­fontein. both on at­tack and de­fence at No 12 and it is a huge pity that he is re­lo­cat­ing his ca­reer to France.

STAR OF THE FOR­WARDS Mal­colm Marx.

He was im­mense in ev­ery de­part­ment ex­cept con­sis­tent ac­cu­racy in his line-out de­liv­ery. If he can get this right he can be­come as good if bet­ter than Bis­marck. But as ram­pag­ing as he was in the loose and pow­er­ful in the scrum­ming, he HAS to get bet­ter at line-out de­liv­ery.

This was an easy one. When Siya Kolisi ex­ploded through the French de­fence on the halfway line at Kings Park to ul­ti­mately off­load to El­ton Jan­tjies for the try, the sec­ond Test was won and the se­ries se­cured. Kolisi was huge that match and made more than just this one telling mo­ment.

MO­MENT OF THE SE­RIES MO­MENT TO FOR­GET

The Boks ruled this se­ries and while it is dif­fi­cult to pin-point a wa­ter­shed mo­ment, I would say that the 42 000 at Kings Park, not to men­tion those watch­ing on TV, would have been crest­fallen at the con­cus­sion suf­fered by flanker Oupa Mo­hoje in that sec­ond Test. He has been the Chee­tahs’ best player this year and has a lot to de­liver at Test level. his out­side backs and tena­cious de­fence has come to the fore.

SIZ­ING UP THE COACHES

As much as Franco Smith and Bren­dan Ven­ter’s con­tri­bu­tion has been lauded by both play­ers and coaches, it has been the man man­age­ment of Al­lis­ter Coet­zee that has en­sured it’s come to­gether nicely for the team.

STAR OF THE BACK­LINE El­ton Jan­tjies.

The flyhalf hardly put a foot wrong through­out the se­ries. He got the back­line go­ing with his ap­petite for the run­ning game, cre­ative­ness on at­tack and pin point goal-kick­ing.

STAR OF THE FOR­WARDS Franco Mostert.

He did his pri­mary job well in the li­ne­outs but it was his tire­less toil es­pe­cially on de­fence that earned him the praise. His will­ing­ness to be the first to charge into the dark ar­eas of for­ward play, will cer­tainly se­cure his place in the Bok team for a long time to come.

MO­MENT OF THE SE­RIES

Jesse Kriel’s try at Lof­tus. It was in one mo­ment in the first Test that ev­ery­thing that had been bad about the Boks a year ago be­came ev­ery­thing good about them this year. An­dries Coet­zee got tack­led in mid-field and in­stead of dy­ing with the ball, he showed good ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the laws in plac­ing the ball and quickly pick­ing it up be­fore of­fload­ing to hooker Mal­colm Marx. Marx un­selfishly threw a pass to Kriel who sprinted di­ag­o­nally to score.

MO­MENTS TO FOR­GET

Mo­hoje and White­ley in­juries.They were dubbed the un­likely loose trio but af­ter just one Test to­gether Siya Kolisi, Oupa Mo­hoje and War­ren White­ley had formed a near per­fect com­bi­na­tion. It was sad to see Mo­hoje fall vic­tim to con­cus­sion in the sec­ond Test, deny­ing the Boks a vi­tal line-out and de­fen­sive ex­po­nent. game with com­po­sure in the sec­ond. His was qui­etest at El­lis Park, but still pretty de­cent.

STAR OF THE FOR­WARDS Eben Etze­beth.

Mal­colm Marx’s hero­ics in the first Test were amazing and Franco Mostert also de­serves a men­tion for his good work through­out the se­ries, but Eben Etze­beth …it’s his stop-you-in-your­tracks tack­les, his line-out work (es­pe­cially in the first Test), and his bull­doz­ing runs, es­pe­cially in the last Test, that earn him the ti­tle.

Marx’s mon­ster run down touch in the first Test, the in­ter­play be­tween War­ren White­ley and Marx in the sec­ond, Coet­zee’s run, quick re­ac­tion off ground and off­load to put Ser­fontein away in the first Test … there were a few. But Kolisi gets this one for that in­ter­cept try in the sec­ond Test.

Hougaard’s per­for­mance in the third Test is some­thing I’d rather for­get, es­pe­cially af­ter Ross Cronjé’s per­for­mances in the first and sec­ond Tests. His of­ten-wob­bly pass­ing put Jan­tjies un­der some pressure. He be­came slightly bet­ter as the game pro­gressed, but none­the­less, he looked out of his depth.

MO­MENT OF THE SE­RIES MO­MENT TO FOR­GET

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