So now that the overseas leg of the Tri-Nations is over, 13 of the 15 first choice players made a *cough* miraculous recovery in time to be selected for Saturday’s test match against Australia. With only Schalk Burger and Juan Smit of the first choice Boks remaining crocked, the team that takes the field tomorrow is pretty much the team that will be representing the nation at the Rugby World Cup.
The pressure is on. If the Boks get their BMW shorts handed to them by the Aussies this Saturday, it will expose all of Peter de Villier’s preparations and talk about “judge us at the World Cup” as a sham. For the last four years he’s been playing the “I got this under control” card. But it will seriously be derailed if they lose on Saturday. It’s time for the returning pensioners to front up if they have any hope of winning the World Cup.
One of the most exciting team announcements is the return of Heinrich “Lobster Boy” Brussow to the starting line up (imagine my disappointment at realising my inability to find the two little .. things you’re supposed to put over the “o” in his name). He’s been gone a while from the Bok test match set up, first recovering from an injury and then taking a small rugby sabbatical to act as Alfalfa in the Hollywood remake of the Little Rascals, but his return on Saturday will raise the interest levels of even the neutrals.
For loose forward purists, watching Brussow in action evokes the kind of emotions and interest usually reserved for discoveries of previously unreleased Heidi Klum Victoria Secret catalogues. In other words, eyes will be glued to television sets on Saturday.
Given the rapidly approaching retirement age of most of the Bok squad there aren’t a whole lot of names in the team that still strike fear into the hearts of Wallabies players. Fourie du Preez is one of them, Victor Matfield is another, and Heinrich Brussow should be one of them. If the return of the veterans isn’t enough to turn this season around – well… we’re truly screwed. You may as well not bother to watch the World Cup, because they’re only going to break your hearts.
So we’re calling a win for the Boks. Probably not out of reason, judgement or experience. But perhaps out of sincere desperation. If we can’t take the Wallabies in the Republic with a full strength team, we don’t have a prayer in Kiwiland.