Lack of lead­er­ship is telling

The Citizen (Gauteng) - - LETTERS - Heinz Schenk

There are a lot of things wrong with South African rugby due to var­i­ous struc­tural de­fi­cien­cies. And, nat­u­rally, that spills over into the Spring­bok brand.

Yet one headache that doesn’t re­ceive enough at­ten­tion is the lead­er­ship prob­lem in the na­tional side.

Last week­end, the Boks lost a dreary Test against the Wal­la­bies es­sen­tially be­cause they sim­ply couldn’t keep their heads.

We can rightly marvel at what the ap­point­ment of Siya Kolisi as Bok skip­per has done in terms of good­will, but we would be dis­hon­est with our­selves if we say he’s im­posed him­self at this stage.

Here’s the prob­lem with South African rugby’s lead­er­ship core at the mo­ment: they’re all deal­ing with, for want of a bet­ter word, dis­trac­tions.

Kolisi has ac­tu­ally been one of the Boks’ best play­ers in the Rugby Cham­pi­onship. He’s been es­pe­cially ef­fec­tive as a ball-car­rier and con­tin­ues to de­fend solidly.

How­ever, he hasn’t man­aged to find the bal­ance be­tween be­ing a key player and key leader. Against Eng­land in June, he led well with­out set­ting the world on fire.

It’s en­cour­ag­ing that Kolisi con­tin­ues to state that he re­lies heav­ily on his ex­pe­ri­enced team­mates to help him, but there’s a flaw in that.

War­ren White­ley is a great leader but at in­ter­na­tional level he can’t fo­cus overly on giv­ing in­put be­cause he still has to prove that he’s a player of in­ter­na­tional qual­ity.

It’s a sit­u­a­tion that’s be­come far more acute since every­one re­alised how valu­able Duane Ver­meulen still is.

It’s the same with Frans Mal­herbe and Han­dre Pol­lard, both thrust into lead­er­ship roles – even if they are un­of­fi­cial – when they need to first and fore­most es­tab­lish them­selves as the first choices in their re­spec­tive po­si­tions.

And then there’s the na­tional cap­tain for the ma­jor­ity of last year, Eben Etze­beth.

The tow­er­ing lock still re­ceives yel­low cards for sense­less pro­fes­sional fouls and still strug­gles to rein him­self in when pro­voked.

Is it any won­der then that the Boks strug­gle to stay com­posed dur­ing matches?

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