I’ve given myself a few days to allow the Bok squad selected for this weekend’s fixture against Wales to sink in. Not because I am necessarily disappointed by it but because to some degree it is quite different to the team we saw take on the All Blacks a few weeks ago. Whilst there are those who certainly deserve their spot there are others whose selection have raised a few eyebrows. Let’s have a look, shall we?
15 Pat Lambie
Take nothing away from Pat. He’s a great footballer and in my opinion should be starting every game. I recently heard Jake White and Nick Mallet talking at a dinner where they insinuated that if Pat were a Kiwi player, by this stage of his career he would be toted as the next Dan Carter as he would have received the necessary grooming and exposure to allow him to grow to a player of that stature. Such is the quality of the player. My point is simple: Pat is a Flyhalf and not a 15. When is the last time that Pat started at Fullback? I have no doubt that he will perform the task at hand with flying colours but he is out of position. A decision needs to be made at the top as to where they see his future and it needs to filter through to franchise and provincial levels as it is clear at this stage that the Sharks and Bokke are not on the same page when it comes to Patrick.
14 JP Pietersen
A tried and tested wing. I’m a fan of JP and would have him starting every day of the week. I haven’t followed his progress in Japan but can only imagine that with his big legs and jinking runs he has dominated. Willie le Roux can rightly feel aggrieved that he has been relegated to the bench as he has – to a degree – been the spark which has seen the Springboks reignite their attacking flair. This is a safe option by Heyneke
13 Jaque Fourie
Jack Ferrari! The man is pure class. Period. Another Japan based player who has obviously been running over okes on a regular basis in the land of the rising sun. I’m excited to see him rekindle what was for a stage the greatest centre pairing in the world. He offers so much more in all aspects than JJ ‘I’m a revolving door’ Engelbrecht. Good selection.
12 Jean de Villiers (captain)
Jean is in the best form of his life and had this game been against a lesser team like Italy or Scotland, we may have seen Jean rested. Which is exactly what he needs. Think about it, Jean has played EVERY second of EVERY match for both the Stormers and Bokke (and Province to a lesser degree) for the past two years. If this oke isn’t managed next year he will break down and we will be stuck without a captain and inside centre come 2015. Fuck sakes that would be a kak place to be. Someone sort this shit out.
11 Bryan Habana
Bryan. Habana. Enough said.
10 Morne Steyn
Vetkop has had a good season for the Boks. The player we saw a year ago on the end-of-year-tour is but a shadow of the player we’ve seen this year. I have always said that two years out from a RWC, a coach should have a good idea of who will be playing for him in crucial positions. Flyhalf is as crucial as it comes and Heyneke has clearly made his decision. I actually have mixed emotions about this because as dead-eye-dick as Vetkop is in front of posts, I find unless he has a pack going forward in front of him, he tends to blow a little hot and cold. A safe choice.
9 Fourie du Preez
The man is a genius and looks rejuvenated and fucking stoked to be back in the Bok setup.
8 Duane Vermeulen
What a breath of fresh air at the back of the Bok pack. Reminds one somewhat of a lion looking to rip the shit out of the heard of gazelle’s in front of him. Love him and what he does on the field as he forms an intricate part of the back three. His work in partnership with Flo is immense.
7 Willem Alberts
Big. Physical. Kind of picks himself. Is there another Blindsider in South Africa worthy? I don’t reckon.
6 Francois Louw
Flo has established himself as one of the top Opensiders in world rugby. He is pedigree and his knowledge of conditions will be crucial. I would venture to say that Flo has the potential to be the next Bok captain. Hashtag Just Saying.
5 Flip van der Merwe
Look this chap is pedigree. There is no doubting it. Unfortunately Flip has this irritating tendency to do something fekkin’ stupid and earn himself a yellow card. Can we afford 14 men for 10 minutes this weekend? Can we afford it in the semi final of the RWC? Or the final? Dead weight and a DC waiting to happen.
4 Eben Etzebeth
Immense! Could probably do with a bit of a rest himself but he’s young and keen so let the boy play. Bok great in the making right here.
3 Frans Malherbe
Big call if you ask me. The Welsh Props aren’t exactly the smallest okes and will be licking their lips at the prospect of welcoming ol’ Fransie-boy to International rugby. Had a decent season for the Stormers and Province but is probably lucky to have been fast tracked. Brok Harris will feel he has a shot at Bok glory now, however. Oh wait, Brok’s a Flyhalf right? This will be the Boks biggest test this weekend and potential weakness and Frans will need his fellow forwards to rally around him.
2 Bismarck du Plessis
Ah fuck, Bismarck du Plessis! This oke is worthy of a post of his own. Yes he’s a fantastic specimen but like Flip has this knack to brain melt and end up on the sidelines for 10 minutes. Not a fan. Let’s leave it there.
1 Tendai Mtawarira
Uses a BIC razor. Enough said.
I’m not going to get into the replacements.
It is clear that whilst Heyneke is telling us that this tour is a trial to weed out those who are worthy of representing us at the next RWC, he is also very keen on winning every match at all costs as the team selected for this weekends match is by far the safer choice. Which is fair. To what extent though? I want to see the Boks win every match they play and will have my little grumble round the fire if they don’t but is this tour not a great opportunity to a) rest a few senior players and b) give some youngsters a chance to prove themselves? What happens if Jean, Bryan, Eben or Morne break down next year or heaven forbid the 2015 Super Rugby season? Will we have ample experience to fill the void left by these players? Let’s hope so.
You stay classy.