Stormers coach Robbie Fleck moved the Bok loose forward back to openside flank on Thursday for Saturday’s Super Rugby showdown against the Bulls at Loftus (7.20pm kickoff) after he started at his preferred No 8 in last week’s disappointing 17-17 draw against the Sunwolves in Singapore.
The 25-year-old Carr has been knocking on the Springbok door for the best part of three years, having won two caps in Europe in November 2014. That was the year when he first played regularly at No 6 for the Stormers, and was unlucky not to make the Bok squad for the June Tests that year.
And now Fleck feels that is where Carr has been at his best in 2016, having also played at No 8 as the coach rotated the likes of Schalk Burger, Siya Kolisi, Sikhumbuzo Notshe and Rynhardt Elstadt in the loose trio. Burger will be at No 8 against the Bulls, with Kolisi at blindside flank.
“Nizaam Carr has played exceptionally well at six, and Schalk comes back at No 8 and brings the experience that we probably missed against the Sunwolves. Siya is the big ball-carrier at seven, and this is the loose trio that I’m starting to feel comfortable with,” Fleck said in Bellville on Thursday.
“For me, he has done exceptionally well at six this season. And if we can recall two seasons ago when he did make the Springboks, he played at six. When we put him at six against the Brumbies earlier this season, he had an exceptional game.
“I know that (David) Pocock got Man of the Match, and he was pretty good. But Nizaam Carr, for me, every time he has put on the six jersey, he has done exceptionally well. I certainly believe that there is a future role for him there.
“At this stage, I think he has had the most steals at the breakdown in our team, and he has a massive work-rate on attack and defence. He is starting to fit into that number six role quite nicely for us.”
Carr’s main attributes are his ability to link with the backs, use his speed to hit half-gaps and offload in the tackle, as well as create space for the strike-runners as a No 8. Fleck said that the Bishops old boy was concerned about not being able to get his hands on the ball often enough when operating at No 6, but that it hasn’t been problematic in the end.
Carr’s thirst for tackling came to the fore in 2014, when his relentless style on attack and defence was one of the few shining lights for the Stormers and played a big role in Western Province winning their second Currie Cup title in three years.
“I think he mentioned in the past to you guys that he needed to become a little bit tougher – he needs to be able to operate in those dark spaces, and I certainly felt that he showed that against the Brumbies, in a tough encounter,” Fleck said.
“Every time he has worn the six jersey, he has stood up physically. I guess that was always his challenge – he likes to play a roaming game and likes to play in space, whereas six is a little bit tougher and a little bit ‘darker’, where he has to hit a little bit harder there.
“And every time he’s put on that six jersey, he’s been able to get himself up physically and mentally, and emotionally for that role, and deliver. I’m excited now to see him play that role going forward. I think it suits his play in the sense that he gets a lot of involvements.
“One thing about Nemo is that he has a high work-rate and a high involvement rate. At six, he was always worried that he wasn’t going to get enough carries. But whenever he plays there, he gets the same amount of carries that he would get at eight. He is making more tackles, more cleans – he’s getting more and more involvements, so I believe it is suiting his game.”
As mentioned before, with Duane Vermeulen the strong favourite to be Allister Coetzee’s starting No 8 for the Boks, and possibly take over the captaincy as well, Carr’s best chance of making the team could be at openside flank, especially with Marcell Coetzee out for the season with a knee injury.
The other likely options at No 6 for Coetzee would be Francois Louw, who is still playing at Bath in England, and the Lions’ energetic Jaco Kriel.
But Fleck is right when he says that Carr has shone on the side of the scrum this year, and another excellent outing on the big stage at Loftus against the Bulls would be perfect timing as it would be just a week before Coetzee names his first squad for the Irish Test series.
@IndyCapeSport - Independent Media
Original source: Carr can operate in ‘dark spaces’