What NICK MALLETT had to say on SuperSport about the Vodacom Super Rugby matches at Ellis Park and Kings Park.
Lions vs Vodacom Bulls
‘I got that completely wrong. I did not see the Bulls pack standing up as well as they did, particularly the front row in the first half. Their scrummaging was outstanding, they had a much better lineout and were far more physical. Tactically they played the game perfectly, a lot of pick-and-goes and big forward carries.
‘The Lions were slow out of the blocks and 14-0 was the lowest score the Bulls could have been up at half-time, quite frankly. Congratulations to the Bulls for bouncing back from a poor weekend. They looked much more like the Bulls who hammered the Stormers in the opening weekend.
‘There has been a lot of criticism in the past of Rassie Erasmus selecting Schalk Brits, saying, “Why hasn’t a young guy been picked, Brits has been out of the country for such a long time, surely it is an opportunity to for a young guy to come in and play?”
‘But he clearly is not only a good mentor, but he is also still an outstanding rugby player. He does not look 38, he plays as though he is 28 and in his first game against the Stormers he was outstanding. His influence, Duane Vermeulen’s influence and Handré Pollard’s influence were very noticeable. There was good organisation of the front row, defence and structure of the scrums and lineouts from Vermeulen and then Pollard dictated this game well. This is the problem with our old guys going overseas, because the young guys can’t learn from them. ‘
Sharks vs Stormers
‘Super Rugby is a marathon, not a sprint. It really starts taking shape after about nine or 10 weeks. Often we read a lot into these early games but it really is a long competition where you have got to rotate your players, keep them fresh and target certain games.
‘The Lions and Sharks losing at home are not good results for a long-term conference leader. Having started so badly against the Bulls, the Stormers managed to scrape a lucky win against the Lions at home. But this is a significant win for them and as [Stormers assistant coach] John Dobson, who was interviewed during the week said, after this weekend there would be at least one other team that will be one from three – and it happens to be the Lions – and the Stormers could be two from three. That is exactly what happened.
‘Everyone was saying the Stormers were shocking, including me because I thought their first performance [against the Bulls] was so poor and I thought they were pretty poor against the Lions too. But this was quite a clever performance in that they didn’t try to play rugby, they just tried to play error-free rugby.
‘We saw a flyhalf in Jean-Luc du Plessis not used to kicking, kicking a lot. We saw a territory-based game and a lot of forward ball-carriers and excellent defence. The interception [try from Damian Willemse] was the difference in the game and it was an error that was made by the Sharks.
‘It was a game of mistakes rather than a game of one team dominating with brilliant handling skills. We saw last week the Blues making plenty of handling errors. That is a New Zealand team that is very skilful. If they are struggling under the conditions, then South African teams, who don’t quite have the fluidity in the combination between forwards and backs, then you have to play the type of game the Stormers did today.’
SA Rugby’s new contracting system
‘A really talented U20 player or someone coming through the ranks can be given a bit of money in conjunction with his franchise to encourage him to stay in this country. That is a positive.
‘But allowing young players to leave without the Sword of Damocles over their head around not getting a Springbok cap is worrying because if you are getting three-and-a-half times more than you can in South Africa and your career is 10 years long it is very attractive.
‘If I was the Toulon owner I would say to Eben Etzebeth, who he is going to sign for them, on the table is a contract worth €750,000 if you don’t play international rugby for two years. Or there is €400,000 and you can play international rugby.’
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