A Scrum-Half should work as a waiter as part of his training. Or should I say, Ricky January should. Most scrumhalves rely on peripheral vision to determine where their mid-field players are positioned. Not Ricky January. He looks left. Then right. Then left again, like a dutiful school boy before crossing the road. And only after this will he pass the ball. Maybe. If he feels like it. Only trouble is, by this time the ball isn’t there anymore. “Huh? What happened to the ball? It was there a moment ago …” he wonders and as he looks up he sees to his amazement the opposition breaking away with the ball.
What he needs to develop is his peripheral vision, the way the best waiters do, looking straight ahead as they head to the kitchen but able to see exactly what is happening to their right and left, and whether a customers needs attention.
Fortunately, he was much better (but not great) during the second test against Italy.
The announcement of the squad for the Tri-Nations held few surprises. Playing Jean de Villiers at wing is a waste of his talent but it was probably because of the need to get some height at the back to cover for Gio Aplon who, despite he’s mercurial brilliance, is a trifle short and could be vulnerable under the high ball if challenged. But some regard De Villiers as possibly the best inside centre in the world. What a pairing he would make with Jacques Fourie!
Pieter de Villiers’s unusual quotes are often puzzling. But not as puzzling as his decision to omit Francois Steyn at full-back. I hope the Boks don’t get to rue this decision.
That aside, it’s a great squad and, having seen the All Blacks and the Wallabies play this weekend (Wales and Ireland respectively) I couldn’t help thinking that the Boks looked far stronger than their arch rivals whom they’ll meet again in the upcoming Tri-Nations competition. As one headline in Australia put it: “Hungry Springboks will make a meal of cold-and-mushy Wallabies.” But to be overconfident at this stage would be folly. At least, while there are sidestepping, quicksilver eels like Quade Cooper around.