Sharks prop Jannie du Plessis has been added to the Boks front-row casualty list and flew home yesterday. The Leceister front-rankers that did such a demolition job on Friday night will no doubt share a high-five or two, knowing that they managed to injure all three of their Bok opponents.
The big doctor apparently picked up a hand injury – it might even be a break – and will play no further part in the tour. The baffling thing, to my mind anyway, is that he has been replaced by Leinster’s CJ van der Linde. I know that he has come under a lot of criticism as a result of the policy, but I, for one, applaud Peter de Villiers’ non-selection of foreign-based players and I don’t see why he should go back on that now, particularly given that there is a superb local option in WP Nel who has again been overlooked.
Sanity (or was it pragmatism) seemed to have prevailed at last in the belated selection of two-thirds of the all-conquering Cheetahs front-row. Perhaps the coach is now learning that the front row is not really such a great place to be experimenting, especially not against hardened European opposition who pride themselves on scrumming well. Wian du Preez and Adriaan Strauss do seem more sensible front-row selections for a late season Northern Hemisphere tour than the notoriously fragile Chilliboy Ralepelle and Gurthrö Steenkamp. I just can’t understand why they didn’t now opt to bring the third member of that unit over, given that Nel was arguably the standout tighthead in the Currie Cup.
Let me just give some perspective to this, by saying that I have never been a fan of CJ van der Linde anyway. His scrumming has always been a weak point at tighthead and unless he has hardened up significantly in his time in Ireland (which he may well have done) I fail to see how his addition, 50 test caps regardless, will add much in terms of shoring up a dodgy-looking Bok scrum. His discipline is suspect too and far from being one of the leaders in the squad, he has always struck me as one of the ones most likely to transgress, to get involved in niggle, to be shown an untimely yellow.
Perhaps we should be counting our blessings here, in that the Bok XV now has a technically superior front-row unit to call on, which will be better for the Bok bench too. WP Nel, though, can consider himself most unlucky to have missed out on what would have been a deserved selection.Tweet