By Stephen Nell
Hard rock will seldom find favour with an audience of classical music, so Cape rugby followers could hardly be blamed for expressing their exasperation at Dean Hall's selection for the national rugby training camp ahead of Pieter Rossouw.
Hall joined the rest of the 32-man squad in Plettenberg Bay this week and the fact that he is one of two wings in the mix - the other is Breyton Paulse - means he is virtually a certain starter for the first Test against France in Johannesburg on June 16.
The selection will break the Stormers' back three combination of Rossouw, Paulse and Percy Montgomery. In fact, it suggests a radical departure from the playing style of recent years.
At a time when South Africa's lack of skills is a moot point, my feeling was that Hall over Rossouw was the wrong selection. Off to the offices of the Springbok business unit in Cape Town I went, where I bumped into Bok assistant coach Jake White.
"So, is Dean Hall a mindless basher?" I asked. Not on your nelly.
A debate with a pedigreed rugby man like White is usually a sobering experience and this one was no different. He has, of course, got the highest regard for Rossouw.
Yet the notion that Hall, the 101kg Springs giant who gained instant fame by flattening Highlanders back Iliesa Tanivula on his way to the tryline earlier this year, is all brawn and no brain is one that the Bok bench hotly disputes.
Hall, in fact, fits the label of a multi-skilled player down to the proverbial tee and is a powerful statement of intent of Bok coach Harry Viljoen's plan to utilise the full width of the pitch in his game plan. The national coaches, in fact, are looking to the affable 24 year old to virtually redefine wing play.
"All of us Springbok coaches believe Dean has huge potential and can add another dimension to our back play because he offers the complete opposite in playing style to Breyton Paulse," White said.
Paramount to Hall's game is the hard and straight running that has made him such a force for the Cats this year. There is the argument that he is not half as effective with the ball as Jonah Lomu, with whom he has often been compared.
Hall, of course, was not among the Super 12's leading try-scorers, but it's significant that most of the criticism surfaced towards the latter stages of the competition during which he was very rarely played into space in the Cats' unimaginative game plan.
"Dean's strengths, to me, are that he keeps the ball in the tackle, is strong enough out wide to wait for his loose forwards and bring them into the game and that he competes for the ball on the ground at tackle situations.
"We want our players to be multi-skilled and Dean definitely fits that mould," said White.