Stransky: Butch should be No.10
July 6, 2011
Will the Lions' Butch James spearhead the Springboks' attack at this year's Rugby World Cup © Getty Images
Springboks legend Joel Stransky believes Lion fly-half Butch James should spearhead South Africa's defence of the Rugby World Cup crown.
Stransky, who famously steered the Boks to the 1995 World Cup title, has backed James to lay claim to the No.10 jersey ahead of rivals Morne Steyn and Patrick Lambie. James, who was a key figure in South Africa's World Cup triumph in 2007, only returned to his homeland in May following a stint with English Premiership side Bath but Stransky is adamant he has done enough to warrant getting the nod.
"I'm not sure right now that the Boks have an idea of who that starting fly-half is going to be. To be fair, the way he has played, it should probably be Butch," Stransky told The Independent newspaper. "I assume that that is the thinking, and they would probably leave him at home for the Tri-Nations tour coming up."
Stransky believes James' superior all-round game gives him the edge over his rivals and believes he is a better player than the one who led the Boks to glory in France four years ago. "I, right now, would go for Butch. His ability to make decisions, to play closer to the gainline, defending that channel," said Stransky. "All of that, plus his experience, means for me that he would be the fly-half. Butch's kicking game has improved dramatically since the last World Cup, and even in that tournament, he kicked out of hand really well. He looks comfortable as a goal-kicker too, and looks natural. With his experience, they won't look past him."
However, Stransky fears that James' temperament may work against him. "There is only one thing - whether he will stay on the field," he added. "It's those hot-headed tackles every now and then, and he has had three or four knee reconstructions. His longevity might be an issue."
South Africa will announce their squad for this year's Tri-Nations on Saturday ahead of their opening clashes with Australia in Sydney (July 23) and New Zealand in Wellington (July 30).
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