Battle for the Bok six jersey

Date published: November 1 2016

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Welcome to our match up between Nizaam Carr and Roelof Smit! The stakes couldn’t be higher as the winner seeks to claim the Springbok number six jersey.

With Springbok heavyweights Francois Louw and Jaco Kriel both KO’d, Carr and Smit are the new contenders for the auspicious title. The loss of Louw and Kriel is a hammerblow for an injury plagued South African team.

After five years at Bath, Louw is adept at playing in Northern hemisphere conditions, while Kriel’s excellent carrying skills would have aided the Springboks in gaining metres against their European foes.

Our first athlete was born in Queenstown Eastern Cape, weighing in 109 kilograms and Currie Cup finalist, the Blue Bulls poacher… Roelof Smit!

The openside excelled in the Currie Cup and was added to the official Springbok touring squad as a replacement loose-forward.

Our next competitor hails from the Mother City, weighing in at 102 kilograms, and already has two caps for the Springboks… Nizaam Carr!

Carr was previously only selected for the Springbok game against the Barbarians but was then promoted to the Springboks side for their Test squad after Kriel’s injury. Both tearaways will be tested on their attack, defence and turnover records.

DING! DING! DING!

1st Round, Attack: Carr is infamous for his lighting quick runs and fast footwork. The mobile loose-forward created a scintillating try for the Springboks two years ago against Italy when he busted through two players before spinning out of another tackle and handed off to Cobus Reinach who scored. Carr ran almost 100 more metres than Smit in the Currie Cup gaining 278 ahead of Smit’s 186. Carr made 20 passes to Smit’s 12 and the Stormers flanker made 39 carries to Smit’s 22.

Decision: Carr is the clear victor in the first round!

2nd Round, Defence: Both contenders are mobile units making them industrious defenders. Carr has regularly played all over the loose trio where he has honed in on his sacking skills. While Smit, a specialist six, has had plenty of practice on defence. Smit made 62 tackles in the Currie Cup whereas Carr made 71! This would make Carr a clear winner… but the referee isn’t happy. He says that Carr missed seven tackles while Smit only missed two throughout the season.

Decision: It’s a draw!

3rd Round, Turnovers: As an openside flank, controlling and stealing ball at the breakdown is vital. Carr isn’t known to be an expert fetcher while Smit was described by Blue Bulls coach Nollis Marais as the, “Only flanker in South Africa who plays towards the ball” during Currie Cup 2016. Let’s check out the stats… it’s a blowout. Carr only made four turnovers during the Currie Cup while Smit made an jaw-dropping 22 steals!

Decision: Smit is the clear winner for the round.

So the selection comes down to whether coach Allister Coetzee wants Nizaam Carr’s experience and searing runs, or Smit’s master-breakdown thievery. But the decision might go down to which athlete is better suited to Northern Hemisphere conditions.

Carr’s running game might be found obsolete due to a likely wet ball and muddy terrain. While Smit’s heavier frame, (with both players around 1.85 metres tall, Smit is seven kilograms heavier than Carr at 109 kilograms) will make him better suited to a conservative game plan… making Smit our champion!

by Nicholas McGregor

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