After the 37 man squad announcement this week we have a clearer indication of which players are going over to New Zealand representing the Springboks and defending our most prized possession, the Rugby World Cup.
The most notable and publicised omission from this preliminary squad is Bjorn Basson, who has been in some amazing form since the Currie Cup last year, carrying that form across to the Super Rugby and being the joint leading try scoring. A lot has been said about his defence letting him down and there being things he can improve on in his play, or that he has burned his bridges with management. Whatever the case may be, he is a talented player that will only add value in the bigger scheme of things, and he is good at what a winger should be good at, and that’s scoring tries!
The player left out that surprised me somewhat, especially after the hype of him being the Springbok saviour at flyhalf, is Peter Grant. There was never any way that Morne Steyn would have stayed at home, but his understudy position was available and with Grant in some good form before his injury, he would have been a solid back up. This position, by the looks of this latest squad, has gone to Butch James, who is back in the country and has made a noticeable impact at the Lions. Of course our young Lambie is also there as a very capable flyhalf cover.
Two players that go hand-in-hand as Peter de Villiers’ favourites have also surprisingly been left out of this squad, and they are Ricky Januarie and Zane Kirchner. Ricky has forever held the scrumhalf reserve title, but has fallen from grace in recent months with much improved performances by Francois Hougaard and Ruan Pienaar in the UK for Ulster. Zane is in much the same boat, he has been the first choice fullback under de Villiers for some time and now does not even look likely to make the trip to New Zealand.
The others that fell away were pretty much expected to not tour in the first place, and they will either hope to make the trip next time around or somehow hope to be in contention for the away leg of the Tri Nations, when all the top players will be rested.
The next step for de Villiers and the selectors is narrow this squad down even further to the required 30 man squad. If my opinion is worth anything, by my calculations the following will away:
1.Adriaan Strauss – We only need three hookers and Chili has always been a de Villiers favourite
2.Flip van der Merwe – We have three other locks in the squad and Danie Rossouw that can cover almost anywhere.
3.Ashley Johnson – He is in the squad as reward for some truly amazing form lately and I am certain with Spies and Alberts and the like already there, he will be surplus.
4.Duane Vermeulen – As with Johnson above, there are just too many other quality loose forwards in the squad.
5.Coenie Oosthuizen – Heaven only knows why Coenie is in the squad, but he is certain to stay at home and play some Currie Cup rugby.
6.Odwa Ndungane – One of the wingers in the squad will have to stay, and it will come down to a straight pick between Odwa and Mvovo. I wouldn’t be surprised to see either stay, but I would take Mvovo for pace alone.
7.Werner Kruger – This last one is a tough choice. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of props in the squad, but with John Smit able to cover all positions I can only think that Kruger can pack away his passport.Tweet