South Africa v Wales second test preview: head to head ratings


No.South AfricaRatingWalesRating
1.Tendai Mtawarira – The Beast carries a fearsome reputation but far too often his bark is worse than his bite. Lacks the scrummaging prowess of Steenkamp but is proficient enough and his workrate around the park is impressive.7.5Gethin Jenkins – Held his own in the scrum last week and remains an instrumental presence in the loose8
2.Bismarck Du Plessis – Without doubt, one of the best hookers in the world. Powerful, fast and with surprisingly soft hands, having Du Plessis on the field is like having an extra flanker available.8.5Ken Owens – Gaining reputation points all the time. Reliable in the lineouts and like a Duracell bunny around the park.7.5
3.Jannie Du Plessis – Strong in the set piece and a powerful presence in the rucks, despite not being the most mobile.7.5Samson Lee – An unknown quantity for the South Africans. He didn’t disgrace himself last week but he needs to step up now and solidify his position as an international tighthead.6
4.Flip van de Merwe – He lacks the sheer intimidation factor of Botha, but he’s a physical and athletic presence in the engine room7Alun Wyn Jones – One man who certainly won’t be overawed by the Springbok physicality. He was a rallying point last week but he needs to fire his team up to start explosively this time around.8.5
5.Victor Matfield – The evergreen skipper just keeps on delivering. An incredible footballer with a phenomenal workrate who inspires the troops around him.9Luke Charteris – He may be a beanpole but he is deceptively physical, but he will need to bring more of that side of his game out tomorrow. Lacked a bit of bite last week.7.5
6.Francois Louw – Has been one of the form opensides in the world for over a year now. Such a potent pain in the rear end at the breakdown.8.5Dan Lydiate – He is rightly renowned as one of the world’s best tacklers, but that doesn’t matter if you’re losing the contact. His workrate his phenomenal but you have to stop the Springboks from crossing the gainline, and that will be his target on Saturday.7.5
7.Willem Alberts – The perfect foil to Louw’s guile, he’s a destructive ball carrier who guarantees yards whenever he has the ball.8.5Josh Turbull – More of an out-and-out scavenger than Shingler, Turnbull impressed in the closing stages of play last week – he’ll need an 80 minute display of hard tackling and sharp turnovers.7
8.Duane Vermeulen – The big man’s stock is rising all the time. He’s against one of the best defensive back rows in the world, but he has a habit of winning the contact and offloading.8Toby Faletau – He’s a quality player but, like Lydiate, he has to win the physical battle in the tackle rather than letting the attacker run 3 metres before bringing him down. Needs to carry more effectively too.7
9.Fourie du Preez – Just a technically wonderful player, despite his aging limbs. Shows that brain beats brawn in the half back spot.8Mike Phillips – A very, very lucky boy to be starting. He’s been living off his reputation for far too long in my opinion and needs to focus on speeding up his delivery and improving the quality of his kicks to 2009 levels.5
10.Morne Steyn – He’s the South African version of Paul Grayson – not all that imaginative but he controls the powerful pack with authority and directs the quicker guys outside him well too7.5Dan Biggar – A calm presence who did nothing wrong last week. Needs to maintain accuracy and make the right calls with authority.7.5
11.Bryan Habana – 8.5He might not have the wheels he had yesteryear, but he’s still one of the sharpest and smartest finishers in the game.George North – He gets a high mark because he is a genuine match winner, but he has to show a greater hunger for the ball than he did last time out. Also needs to step up his one-on-one tackles, which were disappointing at times.8
12.Jar Serfontein – Up against one of the world’s best and acquitted himself well last week, but has another chance to fulfil the undoubted potential he has shown previously7Jamie Roberts – Such an important player. Will be disappointed with his yellow card in his last appearance but the rest of his game was good – he needs to dominate his younger opposite number.8
13.JP Pietersen – He may not be a regular centre but he knows his onions and is an intelligent operator in the middle, despite lacking the physicality of most South African centres.7Jonathan Davies – A player of real class in the midfield. With deceptive pace, lovely hands and good strength, we will want the ball flat so that he can pick lines around Pietersen.8.5
14.Cornal Hendricks – A great sevens player and dangerous in space, but he needs to work harder to find it.6Alex Cuthbert – His physical attributes were demonstrated in a superb solo score last week, but he has to sort out his defensive positioning – which was woeful at times.7
15.Willie Le Roux – In phenomenal form and provides the creative edge to a backline. Has to be shut down early or else he can dominate.9Liam Williams – One tough cookie. Never shirks from the challenge but will need to show more composure under pressure this time round.7

By Mike Cooper

Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images

7 thoughts on “South Africa v Wales second test preview: head to head ratings

  1. Interesting comments on Faletau.

    I must admit that I have wondered about him for a long while now, as I have never quite understood why others viewed him as being so good.

    leaving aside however he played last week, what is it that makes him a quality player?

    Read, Kaino, Parisse, Vunipola, Morgan, Picamoles, Vermeulen, Heaslip, even Easter and Waldrom – I get what they all do well, but Faletau?

    1. I didn’t rate Faletau in the past, but now I do. I think his lack of mistakes is what makes him so good. He’s just a very unfussy player.

      I concede I don’t have the best knowledge of Welsh rugby, but I don’t know who the second choice 8 is for Wales. Faletau seems to have been there pretty much since his debut, and plays every minute.

      I guess he is one of those players that if you concentrate on watching him for a whole game, you begin to appreciate him more.

    2. That is my impression of him. No real weakness. Very high workrate (along the lines of Robshaw). Makes a lot of tackles. Carries well, though not as destructive as Vunipola, Vermeulen of Picamoles. Links well with the backs (not as well as Parisse or Read).

      Mostly as Jonny says, incredibly consistent and doesn’t make mistakes.

      But I would rate at least 4 of those listed above as better No8s. Generally because they bring something special. If Faletau improves he is probabaly the most like Read of the above in that he has a complete game. Just not quite as good.

  2. Blub – Some of those players you mentioned above are only good carrying the ball effectively and physically, such as Vunipola, Morgan etc. If they were that good, then they would last the whole 80 minuets of the game, whereas Faletau carries, tackles and gets to nearly all of the breakdowns for a whole 80 minuets. I can’t remember the last time he came off to be subed. Although I do think he needs to improve his ball carrying as that’s what no.8 be, a destructive ball carrier. I’d say my top 5 would be:

  3. I wasn’t that too keen on Faletau baring in mind I am an England fan, but what I’ve noticed, certainly when watching Wales vs England last year and this year is that he is definitely quality player. The way he tackles, carries ( sometimes ), the way he’s always there in supportive play, always there to clear a ruck out. He got more to improve on his game, but remember the guy is still young.

  4. How can North be rated an 8? All he does is carry well, other than that he can not defend as well as he should be able to nor can he catch a high ball, he had many opportunities too but never took them

  5. Amazing what difference a year makes. If there was a Lions Tour now, how many Welsh players would make the starting line up? North, Alun Wyn Jones maybe, Warburton? Not many others I don’t think.

    Wales and Gatland both look like they need a change, ‘Warrenball’ seems to be increasingly unpractical for the capabilities of this Welsh side; ie I don’t think they can physically compete and beat the likes of SA, England and NZ. Too one dimensional and all too predictable now. Several players look like they need a break or an early retirement, Mike Phillips, Adam Jones…is Warburton ever not injured!?

    That said end of season tours arent traditionally Wales’ stong point and they are missing quality players and will be all the better when they return. The difference is they don’t have the strenght in depth the best sides have.

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