Last week while we were travelling Bakkies Botha received a nine week ban for his head butt in the first tri-nations test, and deservedly so. Which raises several questions about the defending world Champions, the Springboks.
The first is, it raises the question as to what it was that former coach Jake White said to the talented if self destructive lock, to ensure that he did not behave in such a way when he was in charge?
The second is has the time come, irrespective as to what a great player he can be when on the park, where the Springbok management say enough is enough, Bakkies, we cannot afford to have you in the team, as you are letting your team mates down?
Four years ago Jake White, made it quite clear that he was going to blood his second string players in the tri-nations series and the test series against the Northern hemisphere sides, so that come the world cup, both his first choice and second choice players would all have played against the key opponents at the world cup and would not be overawed.
Last weekend Pieter de Villiers put out on the park the most experienced Springbok side to ever play in a rugby test, over 700 test caps spread across the whole side. Yet they still lost, and they lost in New Zealand, the very place where next year’s world cup is being played. How much damage will this have done the Springbok psyche?
He has a tough task in the next 15 months to decide who he keeps in the side. If he makes a bold move to tell a player like Bakkies Botha he is no longer required who does he bring in? Danie Rossouw is the wrong side of thirty at 32, and so suddenly you are looking at an ageing player replacing another ageing player.
Should de Villiers be looking at trying possible replacement players now?
John Smit is undoubtedly a great captain, but again it appears his best rugby at international level is behind him, Jean de Villiers in the centre is another whose best days may be behind him, while Kirchner is yet to look convincing at full back. Pienaar does not look like he knows where his best position is, he is a useful utility player but not a standout at 15, 9 or 10.
Springbok fans may be worried by what has just happened in New Zealand, but more worrying will be what coach de Villiers does in the coming weeks. Whether he likes to believe it or not, the preparation for next year’s world cup starts now.
Should the Springboks end bottom of the log in the Tri Nations this year, will he be at the helm next year? Despite an impressive resume so far, he may find the heat and expectation a little too much to bear.