Carr can make Bok bid versus Hooper


Carr’s skill-set is ideally utilised at the back of the scrum, as his spatial awareness and ability to create play is unmatched among South African loose forwards.

He is much more than just a link-man as he reads the game well, is a good lineout jumper, has classy passing skills and enough speed to hit a gap.

Those are factors which give Carr the edge over someone like Warren Whiteley, who is excellent in the lineouts and tireless in defence, but doesn’t possess the tactical nous and creativity that Carr has.

But it is clear from new Springbok coach Coetzee’s interview with Independent Media this week that he is earmarking Duane Vermeulen to wear the No 8 jersey for the three-Test series against Ireland in June.

Toulon’s Vermeulen may even be appointed as the Bok captain, which will make it almost impossible for Carr to play at No 8 for South Africa, for this year at least.

Not that picking Vermeulen at No 8 is necessarily the right way to go – Vermeulen’s physical approach and lineout prowess is more suited to blindside flank.

Therefore, it was quite disappointing that Stormers coach Robbie Fleck shifted Carr to the side of the scrum again on Thursday to accommodate Schalk Burger.

As has been mentioned previously, Burger is not the same player he was a few years ago, and lacks the urgency and skill in his game – as well as the physicality – to be picked ahead of Carr, Siya Kolisi and Sikhumbuzo Notshe.

A mitigating factor in that regard this week was that Fleck did mention that Kolisi has been battling with flu, and has been in bed. But even then, Carr should’ve been retained at No 8, and Burger should’ve come in on the flank.

Be that as it may, Carr can only do his best in the position he has been picked in, and that is openside flank on Saturday (7.15pm kickoff), where he will come up against a world-class fetcher in Wallaby tyro Michael Hooper.

The 24-year-old Tahs captain has led Australia in the past as well, and does so much more than just create turnovers or slow down the opposition’s ball. He is a nifty ball-carrier too, although he is a more direct runner compared to Carr, who uses his ball skills and footwork to outfox the defence.

So, while his primary role will be to contest the breakdowns, Carr – who turned 25 earlier this month – can also catch the eye of Coetzee by continuing to make a contribution with ball-in-hand against Hooper, who has 51 Test caps to his name compared to Carr’s two.

He was industrious in last week’s 40-22 victory over the Reds at Newlands, where he was strong on attack and defence. Both areas will be crucial for the Stormers if they hope to stop a Waratahs outfit that stuttered at the beginning of the season, but found their touch in hammering the Western Force 49-13 in Perth last weekend.

“The Waratahs had a slow start to the campaign, but they’ve always had quality coaching and players, and it just a matter of time before they found their feet again. They found a bit of rhythm against the Force, and they’re looking ominous again,” Fleck said after announcing his team at Newlands on Thursday.

“I think they will be smarter than what they were in Sydney (last year, when the Stormers won 32-18), where they forced their hand a bit. (But) their culture and philosophy hasn’t changed too much – they want to keep ball-in-hand. They have some really good runners out wide and some big forwards, and they base their game on momentum.

“So we need to be as good defensively as we were in Sydney. They build their game around a strong set-piece and big ball-carriers, which allows the likes of (Kurtley) Beale and (Bernard) Foley to control things.

“Whereas the Reds tested us a lot in broken play and with some silky skills, this game will be about the gain-line and our boys understand that. But our approach this year is that we do want to play a bit more ball-in-hand, and we didn’t do that against them in Sydney. I would like to think that we can do a bit more this game around.”


Original source: Carr can make Bok bid versus Hooper