Can you believe how fast this rugby season has moved along? Super Rugby is done and the Rugby Championships are around the corner. Once again the powerhouses of southern hemisphere rugby will pit themselves against each other as devoted fans froth at the bit at the expectant entertainment which lies before them. It is then natural to expect that each of us die-hard fans has their own opinion on the players selected to represent their teams of choice.
Let’s agree on something upfront: Professional rugby players play too much rugby as it is. It has been a long season so far with a lot of the Springbok stalwarts
again being over-played during their teams Super Rugby campaigns. I understand that the coaches of the Super Rugby franchises want to play their best players in each and every game because a win is key to them keeping their jobs. With the fickle nature of professional sports coaching, a string of loses, resulting in a poor season, could easily see an established coach out in the cold. But somehow the Kiwi’s manage to give their All Blacks ‘sabbaticals’ – most notably Richie McCaw and Dan Carter – with the hope of prolonging their careers. Even with top players being rested, the Kiwi teams continue to be competitive year-in-and-year-out. This raises two questions in my mind: 1) Is there not enough talent in South Africa to give key Springboks a rest, whilst ensuring that our Super Rugby franchises remain competitive? 2) Are management at the national level monitoring their senior Springbok’s game time and do they have the right to demand that said Springboks be rested for the greater good of the national side?
Perhaps these questions are a whole other debate and worthy of a series of posts in the future? For now, let us look at the Bok squad announced this past weekend.
Props: Beast Mtawarira – has not had the best of seasons but really not a player you can afford to leave out. Coenie Oosthuizen – has also had a tough season. Needs to learn how to pass the ball which will see his game improve. Trevor Nyakane – has had a good season and impressed during the incoming tours. Gürthro Steenkamp – lucky to crack the nod. Would the selection of younger player instead not serve Springbok rugby better in the long run? Jannie du Plessis – solid yet overplayed. Is this the only option South African rugby has at tight head? Hookers: Adriaan Strauss – has had an immense season. Bismark du Plessis – has been solid since his return from injury. Wouldn’t start him, however. Chiliboy Ralepelle – solid season for the Bulls. Locks: Eben Etzeneth – the man is immense. Flip van der Merwe – the man is pedigree. Juandré Kruger – has yet to impress at Springbok level. Is no Matfield. Franco van der Merwe – seriously? Loosies: Flo Louw – has reinvented what South Africa previously believed an openside flanker was. Potentially the next Springbok captain. Siya Kolisi – has had an immense two seasons and deserves his selection. Impressed in debut during incoming tours. Willem Alberts – the man is a brick shit-house. Who wouldn’t select him? Marcel Coetzee – not convinced. Is too inconsistent at Springbok level. Duane Vermeulen – the premium 8th man in the country. Scrumhalves: Jano Vermaak – quality selection. Scores heaps of tries. Fourie du Preez – bolter of a selection but we know this oke is class, so let’s give him a chance. Ruan Piennar – am not sure how this oke has racked up 66 Springbok caps? Wasted talent. Flyhalves: Morné Steyn – good season and the first name down on Heineke’s team sheet. Pat Lambie – has had an off season due in part to the Sharks utilising him as a utility back. Centres: Jean de Villiers – pure class. Jan Serfontein – the future of Springbok rugby. There is something Danie Gerber-ish about this kid. JJ Engelbrecht – has reinvented himself since moving to the Bulls and subsequently moving to 13. Juan de Jongh – has been poor this season and will in all likelihood be holding tackle bags this campaign. Wings: Bjorn Basson – the man has pace but lacks any form of defence. Weakest link in current Springbok back line. Bryan Habana – pure class. Fullbacks: Willie le Roux – the future of Springbok rugby. Zane Kirchner – fuck off! Don’t ever mention this oke and the Springboks in my presence ever again.