Springbok scrumhalf Ricky Januarie’s chances of facing the British and Irish Lions in a three-Test series in June have been dealt a hammer blow.
The hero at the House of Pain in Dunedin last year when he scored THAT try to secure a first victory for the Springboks at Carisbrook against New Zealand, has lost his place in the Stormers team ahead of their Vodacom Super 14 match against the Hurricanes in Wellington on Saturday.
Januarie’s inconsistent form behind the pack this season has resulted in Rassie Erasmus turning to Dewaldt Duvenhage to start and relegating Januarie to the bench.
While Erasmus will argue he’s resting Januarie or rotating his players, the fact is Januarie would still be in the starting line-up if he were in top form.
It is a decision which will not sit well with the Bok No9 as he will be fully aware he needs as much game-time as possible to regain his best form and secure his place in Peter de Villiers’ squad for the Lions series.
He will also know that with Fourie du Preez back to his best at the Bulls and the likely first choice against the Lions, his position as back-up will be under threat – more so now that he’ll be sitting on the sidelines.
The Sharks’ Rory Kockott has again been in good form this year and he, like Januarie, would offer the Boks something different to Du Preez.
Kockott is exactly what his surname suggests – a cocky player with real attitude – and he also has the ability to make sniping breaks around the fringes of the scrum and ruck. His added bonus is that he’s also a very accurate goalkicker.
But while Januarie may be a little concerned about his Bok place, De Villiers yesterday told the Cape Times that current individual – and team – form would not influence any individual’s chances of making the Bok side this year.
“Show me which of those (11th-placed Stormers) players that started for the Boks last year have been playing badly?” De Villiers asked. “The team isn’t playing well, but I think the Boks are not doing badly as individuals. So I am not too worried about those players, even if the Stormers are not doing well.”
In other Stormers team news, Hilton Lobberts gets a rare start in the second row, while Tiaan Liebenberg replaces Schalk Brits at hooker.
Meanwhile, Cheetahs coach Naka Drotske has kept the same squad who chocked the Sharks last week for their clash with Chiefs in Kimberley on Saturday.
And in Australia, the Lions will be without star centre Jaque Fourie (eye) and Cobus Grobbelaar (ankle) for their clash with the Reds on Saturday.
Stormers: Conrad Jantjes; Wylie Human, Gcobani Bobo, Jean de Villiers (capt), Sireli Naqelevuki; Peter Grant, Dewaldt Duvenage; Luke Watson, Duane Vermeulen, Schalk Burger; Adriaan Fondse, Hilton Lobberts, Brian Mujati/Wicus Blaauw, Tiaan Liebenberg, JD Moller. Replacements: Schalk Brits, Brok Harris, AJ Venter, Pieter Louw, Ricky Januarie, Willem de Waal, Dylan Des Fountain
Cheetahs: Hennie Daniller; Bjorn Basson, Corné Uys, Meyer Bosman, Jongi Nokwe; Jacques-Louis Potgieter, Tewis de Bruyn; Hendro Scholtz, Juan Smith (capt), Heinrich BrÃ¼ssow; David de Villiers, Wayne van Heerden, Kobus Calldo, Adriaan Strauss, Wian du Preez. Replacements: Richardt Strauss, Bees Roux, Nico Breedt, Kabamba Floors, Sarel Pretorius, Piet van Zyl, Fabian Juries.
This article was originally published on page 17 of The Star on April 16, 2009