Columnists 29.11.2017 09:32 am

The thought lingers: what about the Welsh?

Jon Swift

Jon Swift

Would whatever the Springbok brainstrust came up with, would it be enough to bewilder the Welsh?

It is a well-established fact that the Arithmetically-challenged Golfer – so named because of an inability to balance his scorecard against either his handicap or the number of strokes actually aimed at the golf ball yet still a self-proclaimed expert across the sporting spectrum – would have something to say in the wake of the Springbok victory over Italy in Padua.

It is equally set in stone for the members of the usual gathering that when Dave the Silent is absent from the company, and the Follically-challenged Fireman – whose biting comments are enough to deflate even the most pompous of pundits – all restraints on the Arithmetically-challenged One disappear like mist before the sun.

And though some of his theories tend to originate from the deep reaches of left field, he does make some sense on occasion. His look ahead to the final game of their tour in Cardiff against the Welsh, still smarting from a 33-18 loss to the All Blacks after being only a point adrift at half-time, had a ring of logic about it.

“You have to admit the Boks showed some go-ahead against the Italians,” the Arithmetically-challenged One said. “And you have to accept this was a long way distant from the klap the Irish dished out to us two weeks before that. “But this was a different side from the one that lined up in Dublin or the team that eked out a win over a very average French combination the following Saturday … and what worries me is that it will be a different side again against the Welsh.”

There was a round of quizzical looks among the assembly at this. It made sense. But the Arithmetically-challenged One was not finished yet. “Think about it,” he continued.

“We lose Franco Mostert, Francois Louw and Duane Vermeulen to club commitments this week end and even with Siya Kolisi back in the frame after his break for the birth of his second child, it means another loose forward combination just when it looked like there was go-forward and stability coming back into the South African game. Then it looks like Beast Mtawarira could be out as well.

“The backline could still do a bit more in this respect but bringing in Handre Pollard at flyhalf for Elton Jantjies has given us some impetus. Jantjies remains a fine player under certain conditions. But in the northern hemisphere conditions and having to play off the back foot – something he has never been comfortable with – doesn’t fall into this category. Pollard is finally shaking off his inactivity and looks like being the threat of old.

“Bringing in Francois Venter at centre has also made a huge difference. He has brought some direct running up the middle – and more importantly some defence – to the midfield. I can’t understand why he wasn’t an automatic choice from the start. You’ll have to ask the coach about that. I’m as bewildered as he is.”

Again there was a round of looks exchanged. Again the self-styled expert had raised some valid points. But the lingering thought remained unspoken. Would whatever the Springbok brainstrust came up with, would it be enough to bewilder the Welsh? Sadly, the Arithmetically-challenged One did not elucidate.