‘Boks can be competitive with SA-based players’

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Coetzee’s side ended a miserable year with yet another defeat, this time to a rather limited Wales, in a 27-13 reverse at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday night that saw them claim the dubious honour of being the first Bok team to lose eight Tests in a calendar year.

Of the match-23 fielded in Cardiff, only French-based Johan Goosen and Steven Kitshoff don’t feature in Super Rugby. A number of Lions stars move to Japan during the Currie Cup season, but return to their franchise the following year.

The likes of Francois Louw, Duane Vermeulen, Bryan Habana, Willie le Roux, JP Pietersen and Willem Alberts were some of the overseas-based players who turned out for the Boks this year, but Coetzee felt that he didn’t have enough time to work with them.

“I’m pleased with the young players that came through. I’m pleased that there will have to be – and it’s also in the statement – a firm decision on what we are going to do with our overseas-based players versus the home-based players. If we get decisions based on a few things, it will see some progress,” the coach said.

“(Picking only SA-based players): That’s a decision we have to make, but I still feel that we can be competitive. You’ve got to weigh up having more time to spend with the same team and preparing the same team, compared to a team that comes in a week before a Test.

“Surely, in no time, giving those young players the necessary exposure, they will get up to speed. The other side of the coin is that we will have to be creative in some ways. I know it’s difficult to compete against the pound and euro to retain players in our country.

“(Having a certain amount of caps to qualify) That’s going to be part of the policy that will be released by around the second week of December, right before the 14th. We will have a clear guidance and policy around that, and it is a big discussion point.”

The Boks were again found wanting on attack and defence against Wales, with several ball-in-hand moves ending in a knock-on, while there were holes in the defensive alignment that allowed the home side to gain momentum, with flank Justin Tipuric scything through one to score the final try.

But Coetzee said the exercise of picking new faces was worthwhile. “I suppose if you want to give players experience, you’ve got to play them. This is the start of making sure that those young players… I think they are talented and good enough to gain Test-match experience by playing,” he said.

“A player like Uzair Cassiem was never in the Springbok mix until we had numerous flankers injured this year, but he has proven to be comfortable at Test-match level. So I am really impressed by his performance tonight.”

ashfak.mohamed@inl.co.za

@ashfakmohamed

Independent Media

Original source: ‘Boks can be competitive with SA-based players’

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