Two of our team members pick their No 7 for the SARugbymag.co.za Fans' World XV.
Alberts was one of the most consistent performers for the Springboks throughout the 2013 season, both in his role as a momentum-stopper and as a momentum-gainer. The 120kg blindside flanker has used that bulk to terrific effect as far as ball-carrying is concerned, and his bone-rattling defence contributed to the Boks' three wins in Europe this past November.
There has been criticism of the Boks' back row in terms of their pace, acceleration, and ball skills. Some feel it is not up to the standard set by the New Zealanders. I agree that the Bok loosies lack the offloading skills of Kieran Read and Liam Messam, but then they play a different sort of game that maximises the physical strengths of behemoths such as Alberts, Duane Vermeulen, and even Francois Louw.
The Boks have proved difficult to stop when they have executed their simple but effective game plan. Alberts has been at the heart of that effort, and is easily the best blindside flanker in world rugby today.
Messam is the dynamic master of all trades in world rugby. He was a great co-captain (alongside Craig Clarke) in the back-to-back Super Rugby win for the Chiefs, playing one of his best games ever in the final against the Brumbies.
His leadership grew a lot in 2013 and his ability to do the grinding work with the forwards while also linking up with the backs has become an invaluable asset to the All Blacks.
Messam’s performance against the Springboks at Ellis Park was stellar and his two tries could be seen as the deciding factor that shifted things in their favour.
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