Who’s the ideal SA fullback?
- 29 Jul 2013
Our experts explain who they would pick at 15 for their Fans' XV.
Every weekday a new position will be made available in the Fans' XV, and every time you make a selection you will go into the draw for the grand prize: two tickets for the Boks vs All Blacks Test at Ellis Park, including flights and accommodation!
Jon Cardinelli: WILLIE LE ROUX
A player with a natural penchant and flair for attacking football, Le Roux gave the Springboks some much-needed impetus in the first three Tests of the 2013 season.
Le Roux had forced his way into national contention through a series of consistently brilliant performances for the Cheetahs in the preceding Super Rugby competition, a tournament where he showed his value as both a counter-attacking specialist and finisher. Le Roux would make several mistakes in his first three matches for South Africa, but he would also make a number of important contributions that made all the difference to a much-improved Springbok attack. While he failed to score a try in that three-game block, he did show his value as an attacking catalyst, often getting himself into the right position and providing the perfect pass for team-mates such as Bryan Habana to score.
His kicking game requires work, but if he can improve in this department he will provide the Boks with more versatility in that fullback position. The Boks have declared that they want to play a more balanced game between attack and defence in 2013, and have already displayed more accuracy in terms of execution and finishing in their first three games. The Rugby Championship will be the true measure of their progress, but it's important that players such as Le Roux are allowed to settle into their positions. Le Roux can be devastating when he is provided with the necessary platform. He's currently playing with confidence and deserves his place ahead of the other fullback options.
Mark Keohane: JACO TAUTE
Taute experienced a horror season with the Stormers and got injured early in the campaign. But a fit Taute would be my choice to start at fullback for the Springboks.
I'd utilise Willie le Roux as an impact player, or on the wing as a starting option. Taute, in competitions such as the Rugby Championship and end-of-year tours to Europe and the United Kingdom, offers greater solidity and presence at fullback. He has a strong kicking game and his physicality and pace could add another dimension to the potency of the Bok back-three unit.
Taute's skill-set complements the likes of Bryan Habana and, say, Le Roux on the wing, or even a Gio Aplon or Bjorn Basson. But I feel the Boks, in their build-up towards the World Cup, have to invest in Taute more as a fullback than outside centre.
Gareth Duncan: PAT LAMBIE
After being rotated around the backline, Lambie was given an extended run at flyhalf during the Sharks’ Super Rugby campaign this season. But he failed to live up to expectations, struggling for consistency and confidence. This also affected his goal-kicking, which has been wayward all year.
It’s time to face reality: Lambie’s best position is fullback.
If Lambie can’t deliver at flyhalf for the Sharks, we can’t expect him to do so at Test level. He has already played 24 Tests for the Boks, and none of them has been a memorable performance in the No 10 jersey.
I agree with the view that Lambie needs to stick to one position. He hasn’t disappointed when played at fullback, so why select him elsewhere?
While the 22-year-old lacks height (Lambie stands 1.78m), he still shows good composure under the high ball and has the athletic ability and speed to cover the last line of defence effectively. He has an accurate kicking game, which will suit the Boks’ current style of play, and has the skill to create counter-attacking opportunities in space.
Lambie will struggle to jump ahead of Morné Steyn and Johan Goosen (when recovered) in Bok coach Heyneke Meyer’s flyhalf pecking order. With Zane Kirchner off to Leinster and Willie le Roux yet to make a strong statement in the No 15 jersey, there’s an opportunity for him to shine at fullback and cement a place in the Springbok starting line-up.
Photos: Barry Aldworth/Tom Shaw/Getty Images/BackpagePix
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