Five lessons from the past weekend's international matches, according to SIMON BORCHARDT.
Marnitz Boshoff has bouncebackability
No one would have been more disappointed with the Golden Lions' Currie Cup final loss to Western Province than their flyhalf, who missed four penalty kicks at goal, including one that would have taken the game into extra time. Colin Slade's superb performance at 10 for the Barbarians against the Wallabies at Twickenham on Saturday meant Boshoff got just 12 minutes off the bench, but he made them count, having a hand in Nick Cummins' try and then scoring one himself. Boshoff kicked both conversions, as the Baa-Baas came back from 40-22 down to make it 40-36 and set up a thrilling finish.
The jury is still out on Juan de Jongh
No South African at Twickenham had a bigger point to prove than De Jongh, who was not selected for the Springboks' end-of-year tour squad. The WP captain started the game at 13, but you wouldn't have known as, apart from two failed interception attempts, he was totally anonymous. In stark contrast, his opposite number, Tevita Kuridrani was a constant attacking threat, scoring a try and having a hand in several others. Based on Saturday's game, Heyneke Meyer will feel his decision to overlook De Jongh has been justified.
New Zealand has incredible depth
The Maori All Blacks thrashed Japan 61-21 in Kobe, nine Kiwis started in the Barbarians team that pushed the Wallabies close at Twickenham, and an All Blacks B team thrashed the USA 74-6 in Chicago. While South Africa comes close, no country has as much depth as New Zealand, who could field three teams at a World Cup and probably get all three into the quarter-finals.
Sonny Bill Williams and Dan Carter are good to go
Yes, the opposition was poor, but Williams impressed on his return to the All Blacks and showed that it won't take long for him to readjust to rugby union. During his 60-minute stint, the inside centre scored two tries, made 132m from eight runs and three clean breaks. Carter looked just as sharp when he came off the bench in the 49th minute. The flyhalf, who missed the Rugby Championship because of a fractured leg, had a couple of good runs, one of which led to Israel Dagg's try, and kicked three conversions, including two from the touchline.
Japan and the USA have a lot of work to do
Japan, who are ranked 11th in the world, looked like they had turned the corner when they beat an understrength Wales last year. But their 40-point defeat, at home, to the Maori left coach Eddie Jones with a bemused expression at full time. Jones has tried to push local talent during his time in charge, but their lack of size counts heavily against them, and it would benefit the Brave Blossoms to pick more foreigners, and New Zealanders in particular, who have played club rugby in Japan for three years and therefore qualify for the national team. The 18th-ranked USA were just as disappointing on Saturday, conceding 12 tries to a second-string All Blacks side. The Americans had just a handful of professionals in their lineup and desperately need to establish a professional domestic league that players can join after college, where rugby in the USA is very popular.
Photo: Christopher Lee/Getty Images