SARugbymag.co.za's panel of experts on the Bok tour, players who impressed and disappointed, selections, and lessons learned.
ROBBIE KEMPSON (former Bok prop)
'It's quite obvious the tour was a failure. It should have been about blooding youngsters, but that's not what happened. As for the players who impressed, Coenie Oosthuizen was very solid in the scrum, Duane Vermuelen continued to be dominant, Victor Matfield took control of the lineout, and we have the two best hookers in the world in Bismarck du Plessis and Adriaan Strauss. Pat Lambie was good but Handré Pollard should've been given another start. Willie le Roux had a bad tour and his defensive frailties let him down. The backline in general misfired. The Boks lack a replacement lock pairing because if Eben Etzebeth is injured who else is there? Blindside flank is also a worrying position. Oupa Mohoje was off the pace but it's not his fault because it's difficult to adapt to northern hemisphere conditions. Jaco Kriel was unfortunate not to play, as he was outstanding this year.'
JIMMY STONEHOUSE (Pumas coach)
'A lot of youngsters should have played on this tour to get experience in northern hemisphere conditions, and it's a pity we didn't get to see Warren Whiteley and Jaco Kriel. There weren't many standout performers, but Marcell Coetzee was solid and Nizaam Carr made an impact off the bench, especially against Italy – Heyneke Meyer should have started him against Wales. Wille le Roux was very disappointing – he made far too many mistakes and kicked too much – and the two scrumhalves [Francois Hougaard and Cobus Reinach] didn't perform either. It will be interesting to see who replaces Jean de Villiers, if this knee injury rules him out of the World Cup. Damian de Allende doesn't have much international experience, as he only came off the bench against Wales on tour. I think they need to get Frans Steyn back.'
WAYNE FYVIE (former Bok flank)
'The tour was a failure, not just because of the losses to Ireland and Wales but the way the Boks performed in those matches. The win against England was a positive, though. Cobus Reinach had a good tour – he shows great commitment and really stood out for me. When the All Blacks played Scotland, they rested 13 players and still won. Heyneke Meyer should've done the same against Italy. This was the game for the fringe players to be given a chance. They would have been fresh, ready and hungry to make an impact. One thing we have learned from the tour is that we are still far behind the All Blacks. They win in difficult situations and we don't. The Springboks are not consistent.'
JAMES DALTON (former Bok hooker)
'I wouldn't say the tour was a failure, but it wasn't a rip-roaring success either. Provided we use this as experience going forward, there has to be an identification of the 15 best players, whether they are youngsters or not. They then have to start regularly without any rotation policy. Pat Lambie showed he is the future at flyhalf, while Bismarck du Plessis, Adriaan Strauss, Duane Vermeulen, Eben Etzebeth and Victor Matfield all did well. It's difficult to blame certain individuals, as I believe it was a bad tour for the team and coaching staff as a collective. None of them return unscathed, everyone's confidence took a dent. In South Africa, the coach's selections always come under scrutiny, but given the injuries and the release of the overseas-based players for the match against Wales, Heyneke Meyer made the most of what was available to him. This tour would have humbled the Boks considerably and taught them that northern hemisphere sides are fairly competitive, so they can't slack off when they play teams on the other side of the equator. There's no room for complacency.'
OLLIE LE ROUX (former Bok prop)
'The tour was a huge failure. The coaching was not up to scratch. Duane Vermeulen performed admirably but overall there were no real standouts. A few players performed below their potential, but no player pulls that jersey over his head to fail. Coaching was the real problem. Selection wise, Heyneke Meyer got it spot-on in every game, but tactically not so much. With the World Cup looming, the Boks needed to get acquainted with the style of rugby you need to play in those conditions. They also had to adjust to the way referees officiate the breakdowns over there.'
KOBUS WIESE (former Bok lock)
'For any team ranked among the top five Test nations in the world, let alone second best, those results are not good enough. But it's been building for quite a while now. The Boks were lucky to beat Argentina twice in the Rugby Championship, lost to Australia and only just beat the All Blacks after they already won the title. It was a disastrous end-of-year tour. The most experienced players never showed up and that's worrying. Tours are all about blooding youngsters but Heyneke stuck with the tried and tested. He knows what he has in the older players, so this was an opportunity to see what the youngsters could do in those conditions. Sadly, we will only find out at the World Cup, if he picks the youngsters. I can't say what the Boks learned from the tour, but looking on from the sidelines, it doesn't seem like much, otherwise players like Jaco Kriel and Seabelo Senatla would have got game time on tour, especially after the defeat to Ireland.'
Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images