The selection of a Springbok 'B' side will give Peter de Villiers an opportunity to show his worth as a coach according to rugby365.com columnist Grant Ball.
While the older statesmen were clearly calling out for rest and recuperation for last year's November tour, De Villiers knew his job was on the line after their wooden spoon showing in the Tri-Nations and his constant media utterances where he said the Boks supported murder accused Bees Roux.
The Boks still lost to lowly Scotland, while players such as Victor Matfield came back overplayed.
Now De Villiers has finally rested individuals for the away leg, and although it may be too late already, it's a positive move. Without a first-choice Test side that regularly boasts well over 700 caps (this starting XV is still not that inexperienced at 322 caps), it gives the public an opportunity to see De Villiers's game-management without the senior core to rely on.
John Smit's presence as captain will help greatly, while all of the preparation work during the squad's two weeks in Cape Town and Jo'burg was run by Rassie Erasmus. De Villiers has said it's a blessing how much time the squad have had to work together, and this will be De Villiers and the players' chance to see if they can put into practise Erasmus's work.
By this stage of De Villiers's tenure this could also have been a chance to employ his much-hyped attacking game. This should've been coming into fruition by now, three years after talking it up on his appointment and throughout his first year in charge.
That is highly unlikely however, judging by the way they've practised. The Boks did much defensive work under Jacques Nienaber and also worked on counter-attacking. That points to following the Stormers' conservative kick-chase.
The problem is, as was exposed by the Stormers' semifinal loss to the Crusaders, is that they don't actually have a designated counter-attacking strategy. The Boks will rely on individual brilliance from Gio Aplon, while sides like Australia and New Zealand will have an actual strategy (simply put with minor tweaks: most likely having five players back and making two passes towards space).
De Villiers will also have had seven months to improve the Boks' one-dimensional attacking game that was evident on their November tour. The Boks will need to add some subtlety instead of simply using one-ff runners to get over the advantage line. If their attack is again predictable, expect many turnovers, which the Australasians will thrive off.
Player-wise, worse Bok teams have gone to Australia and not disgraced themselves. Aside from the composition of the loose forwards, there is no problem with the quality of talent at De Villiers's disposal.
This tour is more a test for the coaching staff. Will the players look like they have a plan? In past experiences of dirt-tracker matches in the De Villiers tenure when they played Leicester and Saracens, the Boks looked devoid of any strategy. Let's hope its different this time around, otherwise further questions will arise as to what De Villiers's value is.
Grant Ball also writes for RugbyXV
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