It is exactly one month until the Springboks face England at Mr Price Kings Park in the first of three test matches, which is also coach Heyneke Meyer’s first series in charge of the Green and Gold. As expected, the Super Rugby season has taken its toll on players all over the country, and the decisions are becoming difficult as Meyer has to decide not only on his strongest available 22 man squad, but also a leader.
With four Super Rugby matches still to be played by each of the South African franchises, and spots in the National team clearly up for grabs, will we see an improvement in the form of certain players over the next month, or will Springbok selection take precedence over teamwork and as a result, individualistic play coming to fore? An article written by Rob in the past few weeks raised the point about the amount of Sharks players that are the best in their position at this point in time, and how we can only really see Bismarck du Plessis pushing for selection. This clear lack of form players at the Sharks will surely hamper players’ selection for the National side, which could force these players to lift their game in the following weeks. We can only hope!
Looking over the list of injuries, a few jump out as being key. Juan Smith has not played any form of rugby in two years now, and even though he would have been an ideal candidate for captain, we all knew that his inclusion would always have been a long shot. The individual that caused the most debate when a new captain was first discussed, Schalk Burger, has only seen 12 minutes of rugby and is ruled out of the test series, with a return to Super Rugby only likely to be in July, if he is lucky.
In the time that the Super Rugby competition has been running, certain players have put up their hand for Springbok selection, and have subsequently been injured and will not be available, like Duane Vermeulen and Jacques Potgieter, both of which were in superb form and able to take on the English in June. Someone like Beast Mtawarira is only recently back from a long term layoff, and will be pushing very hard over the coming weeks to be able to pull the number one jersey over his head.
Taking into consideration all of the above injuries and looking at the form of the Super Rugby teams, but also considering individual players’ experience, I have selected a team that I think would be able to give the English a very good run for their money:
2.Bismarck du Plessis
3.Jannie du Plessis
12.Jean de Villiers (Capt)
13.Juan de Jongh
The sad reality is that I am not the Springbok selection board, nor am I Heyneke Meyer. I am sure his team will be different from the one I selected, especially when it comes to the inclusion of Eben Etzebeth, where I think Flip van der Merwe or Juandre Kruger will be selected, Marcell Coetzee, where there is a possibility that Dewald Potgieter or even someone like Francois Louw will get the nod.
Amongst the backs, Pietersen and Habana are a must on the wings, unless Basson or Aplon gets the nod ahead of either, and fullback is a personal choice where I think Meyer might select our favourite clown, Zane Kirchner.
A difference might also be seen in the front row, where I have selected an entire Sharks front row, as they would have played together for five matches by the time the first test comes around, but I get the feeling that either of the Bulls props or even Coenie Oosthuizen might see game time ahead of the Sharks pair.
I have selected Jean de Villiers as my captain, but my gut tells me that Pierre Spies might be announced interim captain, as he is a decent leader at the Bulls, and Meyer having a preference for leadership in the forwards instead of in the backline.
So there you have it, my Bok team with a month to go until the first test. We are sure to see injuries to certain of the players mentioned here, we can only hope that they are minimal. For the first time in a while, I am excited to see a Bok team in action.Tweet