Team dynamics, and not the wishes of individuals, were behind the decision to select Ruan Pienaar and John Smit out of their usual positions for next month’s Springbok tour of Britain.
Liam Del Carme writes in Beeld that Smit, hooker and captain of the South African team that won the rugby World Cup last year, will play at tighthead prop and Pienaar, scrumhalf in the Sharks team that won the Currie Cup at the weekend, is the fist-choice flyhalf.
“You must understand the team dynamics, Springbok coach Peter de Villiers said at the weekend. “We have two brilliant hookers.”
Smit’s selection as a prop forward means he and Bismarck du Plessis will not have to compete for the hooker’s berth. Chiliboy Ralepelle is the other hooker in the team.
Smit has problems
SA Rugby’s decision not to consider players who are turning out for overseas clubs meant a replacement for CJ van der Linde had to be found.
Jannie du Plessis was considered not good enough but Brian Mujati, who had come off second best a few times this season, was included.
If Smit, who has some experience at tighthead prop, has problems, the Springboks could be in trouble.
De Villiers denied that room had to be made for Smit because the Springbok captain was unable to keep Bismarck du Plessis out of the starting lineup.
Pienaar has been handed the flyhalf jersey, the most important position in the team, even though he said earlier this year his future lay at scrumhalf.
De Villiers believes decisions of this nature can be taken only in team context.
Asked whether he had discussed the matter with Pienaar, the coach said he acted professionally and had done the necessary.
“It revolves around the dynamics of the team. Ruan is a brilliant player. He has good hands and feet and an eye for a gap. He is also our first choice goal kicker.”
Not in Training squad
The selection of Earl Rose as second-choice flyhalf has also drawn some criticism.
The Lions player produced some fine performances in Currie Cup rugby this year but also suffered embarrassing moments.
Western Province flyhalf Peter Grant, who was generally tipped to be included in the touring team, is one of those on the standby list.
Rose and Cheetahs flanker Heinrich Brüssow are the uncapped players in the squad.
Brüssow is the only player in the team who was not in the initial training squad of 48. “It (his inclusion) proves that good Currie Cup performances will be rewarded,” De Villiers said.
For all practical purposes, Brüssow takes the place of WP flank Luke Watson, who last week declared himself unavailable for selection.Tweet