Springbok Dominance Reflected in Tri-Nations XV

Sanjay DevaCorrespondent ISeptember 19, 2009

HAMILTON, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 12:  South Africa celebrate with the Tri Nations and Freedom Cup following the Tri Nations Test between the New Zealand All Blacks and South African Springboks at Waikato Stadium on September 12, 2009 in Hamilton, New Zealand.  (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

The Springboks were dominant in the 2009 Tri-nations, and this is reflected in my Tri-nations XV.

The Springboks have had one of their best years ever. In winning the Tri-nations title they clearly exhibited the best side, playing superbly as a unit rather than as individuals.

In putting together my Tri-nations XV, it was extremely difficult to think of which Australians or New Zealanders were better than a Springbok in a particular position.

For the first time in a long time the All Blacks don't have many players dominating their positions on the world stage. It is a reflection of where South African rugby is at present that they have numerous world class players.

In some positions where there were world class players to choose from in each position, it came down to who performed under pressure, and made match winning contributions for their side.

Sanjay's Tri-nations XV:

1. Benn Robinson
2. Bismarck du Plessis
3. John Smit (c)
4. Bakkies Botha
5. Victor Matfield
6. Heinrich Brussow
7. Juan Smith
8. Pierre Spies
9. Fouire du Preez
10. Morne Steyn
11. Bryan Habana
12. Berrick Barnes
13. Jaque Fourie
14. JP Pietersen
15. Francois Steyn

16. Andrew Hore
17. Beast Mtawarira
18. Nathan Sharpe
19. Richie McCaw
20. Will Genia
21. Dan Carter
22. Mils Muliaina

Coach: Peter de Villers


Benn Robinson was the stand out loosehead for me, and was an exceptionally strong scrummager. The Beast Mtawarira was great in the loose, had a very high workrate and made many tackles, but his scrumming let him down.While Tony Woodcock for the All Blacks is always a good player, he did not stand out this season.

John Smit takes the tighthead spot for his high workrate and leadership. He could have covered hooker and allowed a second prop on the bench instead of Andrew Hore in the absence of props on the bench who can cover both sides of the scrum.


No competition here with Bismarck du Plessis standing out from the rest. Andrew Hore earns the reserve spot as I went with a conventional bench, however I'd probably have preferred John Smit as my reserve but he hasn't played hooker for some time now.


Once again the Springbok pairing of Bakkies Botha and Victor Matfield pick themselves. Strong, physical, skillful. Bakkies does the hard work and Matfield provides the lineout genius. Once again it was hard to pick a reserve, but Nathan Sharpe is always solid and offers a replacement for Bakkies late in the game.

Loose Forwards

This was perhaps the hardest area to call. I've opted for an all Springbok back row. Heinrich Brussow was the form openside flanker, and shaded Richie McCaw and George Smith in their encounters this year. McCaw remains a class player and can cover both flank positions from the bench.

Juan Smith earns the blind spot flank position because of his strong workrate, and he never has a bad game. He was the unsung hero of the Bok pack this year.

Pierre Spies was my eighthman, and although he has tons of potential and was always dangerous, there was a lack of competition for his spot. George Smith was solid, but eighthman is probably not his best position.


Fourie du Preez is the world's best halfback. His performances in Perth and Hamilton were sublime.


Morne Steyn won games. His goal kicking was superb and tactical kicking great. Dan Carter remains a world class player, but Morne Steyn never put a foot wrong. In Hamilton, Carter was forced into some poor options at times. Matt Giteau remains dangerous but didn't dictate play for his side, and it was not one of his better seasons.


Berrick Barnes gets the inside centre position and had a good season. His kicking game was very good, and his ability to get his outside backs away perhaps just shades Jean de Villiers.

At outside centre Jaque Fourie was very solid, creating an enormous presence in the midfield, tackling superbly and running straight and hard.

On the bench, Dan Carter covers 10 and 12.


Bryan Habana and JP Pietersen were the form wingers. They had high workrates, and were a large factor in the dominance of the Springbok kicking game. Defensively they both solid, and on attack always dangerous.


Francois Steyn. Fights off a strong challenge from Muliaina, but his all round game and match winning goal kicking gives him the edge. Mils Muliaina gets the reserve spot, being able to cover fullback, centre and possibly wing. James O'Connor was dangerous and had some good performances, but was too erratic overall.


Love him or hate him, Peter de Villers has built an imposing record. Tactically he was very astute, and his Tri-nations rivals have not worked out ways to counter him just yet. Learnt valuable lessons from the British and Irish Lions series and changed his approach. Not sure Graham Henry and crew are as quick on the uptake, while Robbie Deans doesn't have the same quality of talent to work with.


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