Sir Clive Woodward is certainly not the Springboks’ biggest race leader. If the former England coach does not complain that the South Africans kick the ball away too much, he grumbles about Rassie Erasmus’ actions.
The 67-year-old Woodward, who won the 2003 Rugby World Cup alongside players such as Jonny Wilkinson and Martin Johnson, wrote in his latest Daily Mail column that the Springboks can kick themselves for not having an effective set-piece kicker in their ranks for didn’t have the game against Ireland.
“The harsh reality is that the Springboks could in all probability have won the showdown if Manie Libbok and Faf de Klerk had been spot on with their set-piece attempts.”
According to Woodward, the heroics of Michael Lynagh, Joel Stransky, Wilkinson, Dan Carter and Handré Pollard underlined the importance of a reliable kicker.
Although he has a lot of respect and appreciation for Libbok’s attacking game, he believes that the Springboks must now make an important decision.
“This does not necessarily mean that they have to leave him out of the team, but they will either have to transfer the kicking duties to Damian Willemse or devise a way to get Pollard back into the team. If it’s up to me, Pollard is definitely in the starting line-up.”
Woodward also put the spotlight on the Springbok hooks.
“When Malcolm Marx suffered his injury, they decided to move Pollard closer instead. Against Ireland, Deon Fourie – a player who can serve as hooker or loose forward – struggled with his throw-in work at an important time. The smallest thing can make the biggest difference in a World Cup.”
Yet the Goats also impressed him.
“It was a wonderful and captivating spectacle. It was the first time since the opening game between France and New Zealand that things really caught fire again.”