We chat to former Springbok lock Mark Andrews about what he thinks the biggest highlights of 2013 were.
Stand-out player of the year?
On the Currie Cup side, I like to say Pieter-Steph du Toit was the stand-out player for me towards the end. He just got better and better and the way he played in the final was fantastic. He’s got a big future in front of him. In Super Rugby I was very impressed with Bryan Habana. It’s really tough to keep your form towards the end of the year but he made it look easy. He turned things on and was electrifying and I really enjoyed watching him play. I was also very impressed with Willem Alberts for the Boks. He was just phenomenal and the way he was hitting people back was something to see and it gave the Springboks a lot of momentum.
Best performance by a South African team?
Currie Cup final for me was probably the best game of the year. I’m a little bit biased as a former Sharks player, but to have that team prepare a gameplan and then implement that strategy and play with the necessary accuracy and passion are three criteria which are very hard to get all three right. Often players will pitch up with the right attitude but then the gameplan is lacking or they don’t execute it properly. For me the Sharks in that game were just great. Western Province just had no answer and the Sharks completely outplayed them. It was probably the most complete game I saw all season. I also think the Kings deserve a lot of credit for the way the played in Super Rugby. No-one gave them any chance and they played some nice rugby.
Moment that made you wish you were still playing?
I don’t miss playing, but when Richie McCaw is on the field, hovering on the offside line I always I had five more minutes because I would like to teach him what pain is about.
One piece of advice for Heyneke heading into 2014?
Remember class is permanent and form is temporary. Never ever discard class because someone’s out of form. I’m not referring to any player in particular from this year but I have seen too many coaches discrediting experience. It’s not something you can demand from your players because the only way to get it is to earn it the hard way.