World Cup-winning Springbok Hennie le Roux believes that the decision to deploy Morne Steyn at fullback against the All Blacks on Saturday could limit the Springboks in offensive situations.
Steyn was moved from flyhalf to the team's last line of defence in an apparent late change by Springbok coach Peter de Villiers ahead of the Tri-Nations clash with New Zealand in Wellington, and Le Roux believes that it could backfire on the South African team.
"Playing him at 15 could limit the Springboks as far as their plan of attack is concerned," said Le Roux.
The responsibility of making the most important on-field decisions would rest on the shoulders of young Patrick Lambie who is set to earn his first starting cap for the national team at flyhalf - the position he played for the Sharks in the Super Rugby competition this year.
Le Roux commented: "I find it very difficult to agree with that decision although I'm sure there must be some sort of logic behind it. I've not seen him (Steyn) play at fullback and I'm not sure that he has the skills needed to play in that position as he's not shown those specific skills while playing at 10."
Le Roux, who played 15 Tests at centre and 12 at flyhalf, said it could be asking too much of Steyn to slot into a position where he had only played twice for the Bulls, back in 2008.
"To make that adjustment to your game at Test level is extremely difficult and regular fullbacks have a better understanding of the opposing team's methods on attack," he said.
There was, however, the possibility that the two flyhalves could switch places during the match, depending on the team's field position, in which case Steyn was likely to be the pivot when the All Blacks venture deep inside Springbok territory.
Wallaby flyhalf Quade Cooper won the super Rugby title with the Reds playing in a roving role that saw him take the ball at first-receiver on attack and lurk at the back on defence in order to make best use of his 'counter-attacking abilities'.
Le Roux said, if that were the case, there were also other factors to consider.
"If there is a plan to rotate them during the match there is always the risk that they will lose focus and that could cause confusion as to what their respective roles in the team are," he pointed out.
Looking ahead to this year's World Cup, Le Roux said that, at this stage, he had no favourite to fill the No. 10 jersey. He felt the side's flyhalf should be picked based on the opposition and field conditions on the day.
As for last week's 39-20 defeat to the Wallabies, Le Roux expressed concern about the basic mistakes the Springbok halfback pair made during the match.
"I'm not sure whether it was just a lack of communication or instructions from the coaches, but you cannot expect your team to get on the front foot if the flyhalf is more than 15 feet out, as was the case against Australia last week. It makes it so easy for the opposition to defend against us," he said.
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