‘Hougaard is form wing in SA’

Five former Springboks on Francois Hougaard's best position and whether he should stay on the wing for the Vodacom Bulls in the absence of Rudy Paige.

Gaffie du Toit (former Bok flyhalf)

'I’d keep him on the wing. He's an explosive player like [former England and Lions wing] Jason Robinson. Hougaard isn't specialised enough to play scrumhalf, like Fourie du Preez, whose boots he'd have to fill at Test level. His strengths are explosive speed, good feet, and an eye for a gap. He doesn’t get the same opportunity to exploit those strengths at scrumhalf. With Rudy Paige injured, I would definitely start Piet van Zyl at scrumhalf and keep Hougaard on the wing. Van Zyl is a specialised scrumhalf and I thought his move from the Cheetahs to the Bulls would give him the opportunity to develop to his full potential. Hougaard can maximise his strengths on the wing.'

Corné Krige (former Bok flank)

'His best position is wing. He's prone to making the wrong decisions at scrumhalf. I think he gets caught up in the heat of the moment and tries to do too much. For example, against the All Blacks he chose to play Pieter-Steph du Toit on the blind side, which he shouldn't have done, and Du Toit was tackled out at a crucial point in the game. Fourie du Preez would never had done that. Hougaard just seems to lack the decision-making required of a scrumhalf. Rudy Paige is injured, but I’d keep Hougaard on the wing. I like Piet van Zyl at scrumhalf.'

Werner Greeff (former Bok fullback)

'Francois plays better on the wing. He is afforded much more space and he is attacking that space very well at the moment. When he plays scrumhalf, he tends to make the odd mistake and mistakes may cost a team the game. However, because of his international experience at scrumhalf, he will be the better choice for Saturday's match. But this solely depends on the Bulls' approach against the Stormers.'

Adrian Jacobs (former Bok centre)

'His best position is wing. He is dangerous in broken play, attacks the space very well and gives his opposition headaches. He should stay on the wing for Saturday's match. He has been in good form playing there and quite frankly, it should be a straight swop between Piet van Zyl and Rudy Paige.'

Chester Williams (former Bok wing)

'Hougaard's at his best on the wing. He is good in the air and utilises the space on the outside to good effect, but more importantly he seems to be enjoying rugby again. With Hougaard, it all depends on which team he plays for. His natural position is scrumhalf, but at the Bulls he struggles in that position and that effects his confidence. Piet van Zyl should stand in for Rudy Paige and Hougaard should continue playing wing.'

Braam van Straaten (former Bok flyhalf)

'He's the form wing in South Africa at the moment, there's no need to disrupt him now. He has so many options out wide and he carries better. With so much riding on the match against the Stormers, I'd rather the Bulls make just one change with Piet van Zyl coming in at scrumhalf, instead of shifting Hougaard and having to pick someone else on the wing. Continuity is key. Van Zyl needs confidence and it'll do him good to play in a winning team. Hougaard is more of a threat out wide because he is such a dangerous open-field runner.'

Ryan Vrede: Hougaard must wing it

Photo: Barry Aldworth/BackpagePix

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