I’m not sure Charles Bukowski had the Springboks in mind when he wrote, “If you’re going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don’t even start.”
But when South Africa come up against the All Blacks this weekend at Country Bank Stadium in Townsville, it might be appropriate that they listen.
The narrative of these two nations is known.
The Springboks are anti-rugby. The defilers. A team which seeks to detract from all that is beautiful and pure about rugby.
The All Blacks are all white. Manna from heaven. Here to show us all how the game should really be played.
Light and dark. Good and evil. Waterboys and no waterboys. Who prevails in this clash of styles and reputation? Form and history dictate a Kiwi victory and that would be the sensible guess.
But form and history have a habit of biting us on the backside.
The Springboks know what needs to be done because it’s worked so well for them in the past. But do they have the courage to change up this plan? To try something different? Because if they are going to try to win, they may as well go all the way.
Take the chances they would otherwise resist. Go for the option that might seem uncomfortable. Choose speed over delay. Risk over safety. Brain over brawn.
A lot of this will come down to the selections they make. Some players provide much-needed spark and impetus to a team that has seemed bogged down and lethargic over the last couple of weeks. Reputations should go out the window and challenges need to be made.
Cheslin Kolbe is the biggest and most obvious name but I would also bring in Cobus Reinach to create an additional threat around the ruck. Aphelele Fassi for speed. Marco van Staden and Dan du Preez should come into consideration for Jasper Wiese and Kwagga Smith, te latter two having failed to show enough from the bench.
Most importantly, however, they need to play with more positivity – no matter who is selected.
Get fired up, get angry even! Take it to New Zealand and don’t sit back and wait for mistakes. Be brave enough to change what might have been working for you in the past and explore the unfamiliar.
The odds are against them. So if they’re going to try, they may as well go all the way.
“If you’re going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods, and the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It’s the only good fight there is.”