We are only four Saturdays away from the Boks hosting the English in Heyneke Meyer’s first series of matches as coach, and while the Boks are favourites to win the series quite comfortably, the make up of his first team is still open to much debate.
I will be doing a series of articles discussing all the positions and the players that we will most likely see take to the field at Mr Price Kings Park come 9 June 2012.
Let’s start at the front and see if we can come up with a front row worthy of wearing the Green and Gold, and able to give the English a hard time in the scrums.
Looking at the form of players in the Super Rugby season so far, the front row is far from an easy selection.
Meyer could be very conservative and select the tried and tested, albeit John Smit-less front row of Beast Mtawarira, Bismarck du Plessis and Jannie du Plessis. The problem with that is that the Beast has only seen two weeks of action, and even though he has made all the difference in the front row of the Sharks, his match fitness can still be questioned, as well as that he is yet to come up against a tough scrum since his return.
The other glaring weakness in that trio is Jannie du Plessis, who has been far from his best so far this season, and even though the return of the Beast has improved the Sharks scrum dramatically, his individual play is not quite where we have seen him peak.
The Bulls front row has been in good form for most of the season, with Dean Greyling, Chiliboy Ralepelle and Werner Kruger forming a formidable combination. Of the three, Kruger has the best chance of stepping into a Bok starting position, purely based on the lack of form shown by Jannie du Plessis, but I will not be surprised to see all three these players in the squad, with Greyling as backup to Beast, or even potentially starting, and Ralepelle the second choice behind Bismarck.
Others who might come into contention, but are more surprising than conservative selections, are Coenie Oosthuizen and Adriaan Strauss from the Cheetahs, Pat Cilliers from the Lions and Steven Kitshoff from the Stormers. Coenie Oosthuizen’s disciplinary record counts heavily against him, but Strauss, Cilliers and Kitshoff are all in amazing form, and should form count in Meyer’s eyes, one or more of these could see themselves in the green and gold.
Meyer’s probable pick:
2.Bismarck du Plessis
17.Jannie du Plessis
Ferguson’s form selection:
2.Bismarck du Plessis