Sir Clive Woodward is expecting Cheslin Kolbe to slay Duhan van der Merwe, much like David slayed Goliath. And I agree with him, writes Mark Keohane.
I love Woodward’s weekly Daily Mail column, and on the eve of the first Test against world champions South Africa and the British & Irish Lions, Woodward has not disappointed in zoning in on an outside back battle and picking a winner.
Van der Merwe, South African-born and raised, has had a sensational start to his international career with Scotland and he has been huge for the Lions on tour.
Kolbe, in the past three years, has been the best rugby player on the planet.
Van der Merwe is a physical giant, but it’s Kolbe’s dazzling feet and all-round skill on attack that could leave Van der Merwe lumbering defensively.
Woodward, who won the World Cup with England in 2003 and played for and coached the Lions, also has no issues with Kolbe’s defensive abilities.
‘The only selection that really surprises me is the omission of try machine Josh Adams, with Duhan van der Merwe being preferred. To a certain extent I get it — Van der Merwe is a big, fast unit and difficult to stop.
‘But for me he is not a deadly, natural try scorer like Adams and he is not as strong defensively. He will be up against Cheslin Kolbe and some pundits suggest that Kolbe might not enjoy tackling Van der Merwe.
‘They clearly haven’t seen the pocket rocket Boks wing pile into opponents twice his size. He loves the physical challenge and in attack his dazzling feet could expose the Scotland wing badly.’
Kolbe started for the SA ‘A’ team against the Lions at the Cape Town Stadium last Wednesday and set up a try for Lukhanyo Am with dazzling footwork that skinned midfielder Chris Harris.
He was also sensational playing for Toulouse this season, winning the Heineken Cup and the French domestic Top 14.\
Watch this and you’ll see Kolbe make tackles and make breaks