The Boks are back – or at least some of the optimism we used to feel when settling down for a match is back.
We may have come unstuck in the nasty, wet Newlands conditions in the third test, but the Siya Kolisi-led team have lifted some of the dread ahead of this year’s Rugby Championship.
If you want some kind of idea of how strong the All Blacks will be, though, consider the depth they have in the pivotal flyhalf position.
Whereas we call on Elton Jantjies when Handré Pollard needs a rest, leaving South Africans shouting at their TVs and wondering when Jantjies will find a decent hairdresser, New Zealand is absolutely spoilt for choice.
This weekend, two of the frontrunners for the position again showed off their world-class skills, and we’ll start with the Hurrican’s Beauden Barrett.
During his side’s win over the Blues, Barrett pulled off a ridiculous intercept, and then a cheeky no-look pass to really drive the point home:
No, stop it.
And he has a decent haircut.
I still think TJ Perenara’s effort was more acrobatic, and you can rest assured the scrumhalf will be telling Beauden that.
Another name in the mix for the All Black number 10 jersey is Damian McKenzie, having switched from fullback in recent times.
The Chiefs pipped the Brumbies in Hamilton, but start from around the 25-second mark to appreciate Damian’s skills:
Hits the gap, behind the back pass, then on his feet to burn the defence and dot down.
Only one of them can start at 10, and that’s part of what sets the All Blacks apart from the rest of the world. Every position has a number of world-class players waiting in the wings, and when they come in the final 20 minutes of a game their intensity is near impossible to match.
Oh, and it doesn’t hurt that refs seem to be consistently ruling calls in their favour, as the French will attest after a horror tour.
There’s no doubting that the Springboks will put their bodies on the line when we face our opponents in the Rugby Championship, but skills like those we saw from Barrett and McKenzie are a reminder of how tough that challenge will be.
A certain Mark Keohane declared that the Boks would win the Rugby Championship – his reasoning here – but I’m not so sure I share his optimism.
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