The nature of Saturday night’s announcement of new Springbok coach Peter de Villiers’s first national training squad might mean that there will be more significance to names that don’t appear than names that do.
The 45-man group is just a training squad, and while it will show De Villiers’s line of thinking following what has mostly been a one-man selection process, it needs to be remembered that not all of the 45 players will get Springbok colours.
Gavin Rich writes for Superrugby that there have been countless instances over the years where players have been part of the training group and have been subjected to all the media fuss that goes with such a selection, but have never graduated to international rugby.
De Villiers will merely be taking this opportunity to take a closer look at the players he is particularly interested in, and the sifting process really starts once the squad assembles in Stellenbosch on Monday.
However, only a handful of players may be there for the first week following De Villiers’s decision to delay the announcement of players involved in next week’s Vodacom Super 14 semifinals. Going into Saturday’s play, there is a strong possibility that both the Stormers and Sharks will still be in the competition next week.
That will mean the squad could be cut by more than half, and we will not know the full details of the squad when it is announced on Saturday night.
What we do know though is that players not from the Super 14 contending franchises who find their names missing from the list can consider themselves to be on the outside looking in. Unless there are injuries in the semifinals, the squad as it has been selected now will remain intact.
Those who want to see some element of the momentum attained with the World Cup triumph last October maintained will be hoping that De Villiers has had a change of heart when it comes to attitudes to some overseas players.
It was understood that at one stage he was reluctant to choose Butch James, which would be a highly questionable decision if you consider the dearth of experienced flyhalves currently playing for South African teams. Fortunately, the latest word is that De Villiers is now favourably disposed towards James, so hopefully sanity will prevail.
In the absence of any great depth in the position, it would be a good bet that De Villiers will back someone like young WP Vodacom Cup flyhalf Ishma-eel Dollie for one of the places in the squad, while Bulls players Bandise Maku and Hilton Lobberts could get call-ups despite only making rare appearances in the Super 14.
Paul Delport, the former SA under-19 and under-21 captain, is another player who has been coached by De Villiers that the new national mentor might be favourably disposed to. Unless Delport and Dollie get late call-ups to the Stormers squad for a semifinal, these are players who could be among the names read out on Saturday.
Fullbacks: Percy Montgomery, Conrad Jantjes, Francois Steyn.
Wings: Tonderai Chavhanga, Bryan Habana, JP Pietersen, Odwa Ndungane, Akona Ndungane.
Centres: Jean de Villiers, Gcobani Bobo, Waylon Murray, Jacque Fourie, Meyer Bosman.
Flyhalves: Butch James, Peter Grant, Ishma-eel Dollie, Ruan Pienaar.
Scrumhalves: Fourie du Preez, Ricky Januarie, Rory Kockott, Paul Delport.
Loose-forwards: Ryan Kankowski, Pierre Spies, Juan Smith, Luke Watson, Duane Vermeulen, Hilton Lobberts, Schalk Burger, Joe van Niekerk, Keegan Daniel.
Locks: Bakkies Botha, Victor Matfield, Andries Bekker, Johann Muller, Danie Rossouw.
Props: Gurthro Steenkamp, Brian Mujati, CJ van der Linde, BJ Botha, Heinke van der Merwe, Beast Mtawarira.
Hookers: John Smit, Bismarck du Plessis, Schalk Brits, Bandise Maku.Tweet