Mal­let prom­ises fire­works

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT - PETER BILLS

NICK MALLETT has made a stir­ring de­fence of the Bar­bar­ians con­cept, ahead of to­day’s fi­nal match of the South Africans’ tour at Twick­en­ham.

The big for mer Spring­bok coach who is hop­ing to add the South African scalp to the New Zealand one he took last year in the same fix­ture, in­sists the match has huge value for both the South African play­ers and the Bar­bar­ians.

“This is a great chance for many of these South African play­ers to make a real name for them­selves” he said.

“Good per­for­mances in this game against this qual­ity of op­po­si­tion can make a big im­pres­sion for the fu­ture. And with the World Cup so close there’s ev­ery­thing to play for.”

Mallett also strongly sup­ported the Bar­bar­ians as a wor­thy part of the mod­ern game.

“There is ab­so­lutely still a role for them” he in­sisted. “We have seen again an­other great ex­am­ple of what it gives play­ers. Will Ge­nia (Aus­tralia) and Andy El­lis (New Zealand) might face each other in a World Cup semi-fi­nal next Septem­ber. Yet this week, they have been rooming to­gether. They’ve eaten to­gether, gone out shop­ping to­gether and be­come in­sep­a­ra­ble; re­ally big mates.

“The same hap­pened last year with John Smit of South Africa and Richie McCaw of New Zealand.

“They built a fan­tas­tic re­la­tion­ship in the week of the Bar­bar­ians/New Zealand match, re­spect­ing each other as peo­ple, not just rugby play­ers.

“And that friend­ship has re­ally car­ried over to the con­test be­tween South Africa and New Zealand on the field.

“To cre­ate this kind of re­spect be­tween the cap­tains of two of the ma­jor rugby play­ing na­tions of the world must be valu­able for the game as a whole.

“So many Bar­bar­ians play­ers I speak to, say they have a great week and al­ways re­mem­ber it. This is one event they re­ally do en­joy, with­out all the pres­sures as­so­ci­ated with just about ev­ery other game they play.”

To what de­gree the Bar­bar­ians’ weary south­ern hemi­sphere play­ers will dig in for vic­tory in an ex­hi­bi­tion match, re­mains to be seen. But Mallett in­sists: “We won’t be fool­ing around.

“We would love to play the sort of rugby New Zealand and Aus­tralia played this year; that is, hold­ing onto the ball, us­ing the power of the for­wards and strik­ing through the skill and speed of the backs.

“But we have to re­mem­ber, Eng­land wanted to do that against South Africa yet got only 30% pos­ses­sion.

“I know we have to get mo­men­tum through our for­wards be­cause with­out them fir­ing and match­ing the South Africans up front, we will have dif­fi­cul­ties.

“But it should be a great game of rugby. We can’t sort out a highly struc­tured de­fence in a week but the work we do in de­fence will show whether our play­ers are com­mit­ted to each other and want to put in a good per­for­mance.”

The Spring­boks’ coaches will hope play­ers such as El­ton Jan­tjies, Pa­trick Lam­bie (from full­back), Andries Strauss, Willem Al­berts and sev­eral oth­ers will make com­pelling cases for in­clu­sion in Spring­bok squads in 2011.

Strauss, Jan­tjies and prop Con­nie Oosthuizen are mak­ing their Spring­bok de­buts while prop Werner Kruger and half­back Charl McLeod could join them off the bench in the new boys club.

Coach Peter de Vil­liers said: “The new­com­ers have been wait­ing for their chance and will bring en­ergy and en­thu­si­asm to the line-up at the end of a long sea­son.

“This is their chance to show what they can do.

“But I’ve stressed to all the team that this match is not about per­sonal per­for­mance but about per­form­ing as a team – if they do that they will all be suc­cess­ful.”

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