Richard Ferguson

Bok selection countdown – Second row


Written by Richard Ferguson (Richard Ferguson)

Posted in :Original Content, Springboks on 17 May 2012 at 10:00
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The Springboks face the English in a three test series starting 9 June 2012, which is just around the corner, with Heyneke Meyer taking charge of his first team of Springboks. He will have a difficult time selecting a team that he had in mind at the start of the season, thanks to many an injury in Super Rugby.

Continuing our look at the options available to our new coach, we shift our attention to the second row, which might be a little easier to predict purely due to the lack of feasible options. This was always going to be an interesting selection, due to the loss of both Bakkies Botha and Victor Matfield, both of which were pencilled into the team without having to think twice about it.

If the media in general had anything to do with it, the Stormers pair of Eben Etzebeth and Andries Bekker would be a done deal, but let’s look at it more closely. The Stormers pair has been in good form this year, and even though this is Etzebeth’s maiden season in top class rugby, he has shone against the international players he has faced. But is it not too soon to shove him into the limelight of Springbok rugby?

The second row combination of Flip van der Merwe and Juandre Kruger has also had a good season to date, even though they might not be as flashy as the Stormers players, they get the job done, having learnt from the best in the business, with Matfield still heavily involved at the Bulls. Neither player has really put a foot wrong so far this year, with Flip van der Merwe having won a few caps in the past, so his selection in the squad is almost guaranteed.

Looking at the rest of the Super Rugby franchises, one has to think that it would be difficult for the likes of Steven Sykes and Anton Bresler to make an impact, especially with the latter failing to make the training squad a few weeks ago. Neither the Cheetahs nor the Lions have anyone special at lock, with the Lions trying every lock in the province.

So we have the four locks likely to be selected in the squad, but how do we play them? Do we stick to combinations that play at Super Rugby together, or do we expect the players to form new combinations in a week and be ready to tackle the English? Personally, it would only have made sense to keep both locks from a province if the hooker came from the same province, as this trio and work they put in at Super Rugby level already would make this set piece unbelievably strong. But the likelihood is that Bismarck will be starting hooker, meaning that the combination is broken down, and we are likely to see a mixed lock combination.

Meyer’s probable picks:
4.Flip van der Merwe
5.Andries Bekker
18.Juandre Kruger

Ferguson Form selection:
4.Flip van der Merwe
5.Andries Bekker
18.Juandre Kruger



48 Comments

  • Only problem with Flip VDM is his propensity for yellow cards… I think Etzebeth is the future and what better litmus test than England. He is as aggressive as Flip but smarter with the way he bashes people…

  • Comment 1, posted at 17.05.12 10:04:03 by The Quirk Reply
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  • @The Quirk (Comment 1) :

    I agree with the “if he is good enough, he is old enough’ choir..

    But,

    This guy has hardly played a full season, and Flip has cleaned up his act so far this season..

    My opinion, I think Etzebeth should get a game in the last test, when the series is won and we can afford to experiment..

  • Comment 2, posted at 17.05.12 10:07:29 by Richard Ferguson Reply
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  • Personally would go with Etzebeth and Bekker, but with Bekker’s history with injuries – could end up with Etzebeth and Kruger

  • Comment 3, posted at 17.05.12 10:08:19 by Bokhoring Reply

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  • Long time reader, first time poster, lifetime Sharks fan. Hi guys, love Sharksworld site, always reading it on my phone on way to work each day.

    Nice article Richard, what do you think about Johann Muller being in Meyer’s thoughts for the tests against England? The guy is going to be in the spotlight this weekend for Ulster, is very highly regarded there, could lend some experience to Bok squad at lock? Even being touted as possible captain for this series.

  • Comment 4, posted at 17.05.12 10:10:56 by Alan Moscrop Reply

     
  • Etzebeth is an animal. Extremely talented and as Heyneke himself has said, if you’re good enough, you’re old enough. Fills the ‘Bakkies-Type’ role better than Flip, more aggressive, more talented and a good head on his shoulders. SA’s future no. 4 without a doubt!

  • Comment 5, posted at 17.05.12 10:11:25 by rumps Reply

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  • @Richard Ferguson (Comment 2) : True, at least we have options, looking forward to see who gets picked… One for the future though, that 130 kg kid the lions pulled from obscurity…

  • Comment 6, posted at 17.05.12 10:12:21 by The Quirk Reply
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  • @Alan Moscrop (Comment 4) :

    Hey Alan

    Welcome to the site!

    Regarding Muller, I think there are a fair amount of locks running around in the country that are on par with him, in terms of ability.

    Your point regarding his leadership and captaincy is an interesting one, and personally, I think it is feasible.

    Considering the lack of leaders in the current setup, with not one player really putiing his hand up in terms of captaincy, it could work out really well.

    The only plroblem I see, is that he would have to replace Andries Bekker, who I think is first choice 5 at this stage.

    Still, a very interesting observation!

  • Comment 7, posted at 17.05.12 10:14:06 by Richard Ferguson Reply
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  • Etzebeth is a freak. I’d start him right away. He’s got the ability to jump in straight away and dominate like Schalk did for example…

    Look for Juandre Kruger to take the 5 jersey ahead of Andries Bekker. Meyer will go for something less flashy with Bekker maybe on the bench.

  • Comment 8, posted at 17.05.12 10:14:52 by hendrikp Reply

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  • @The Quirk (Comment 6) :

    This Hattingh chap they are playing on the flank at the moment?

  • Comment 9, posted at 17.05.12 10:14:57 by Richard Ferguson Reply
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  • @Richard Ferguson (Comment 9) :

    Think he meant Paul Willemse.

  • Comment 10, posted at 17.05.12 10:20:32 by hendrikp Reply

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  • @hendrikp (Comment 10) : the guy that kind of reminds me of a young Kobus Wiese – even the same hairstyle?

  • Comment 11, posted at 17.05.12 10:22:56 by Bokhoring Reply

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  • Anyone know how Gerhard Mostert is doing? The Sharks’ biggest loss from last year IMO

  • Comment 12, posted at 17.05.12 10:23:40 by Die Kriek Reply

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  • @Richard Ferguson (Comment 2) : Hey Rich, Flip actually already has 2 yellow cards to his name, one of them I remember being a fairly stupid punch right in front of the ref. He was lucky not to get a red since refs are too scared to hand them out for punching.

  • Comment 13, posted at 17.05.12 10:28:24 by molly Reply
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  • Having said that though, I was a big fan of Flip when he first came onto the scene, not sure what happened to his attitude, but I hope he sorts it out, he has huge potential.

  • Comment 14, posted at 17.05.12 10:30:20 by molly Reply
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  • cheers Richard. Yes that’s the barrier for Muller, Bekker looks first choice and they both couldn’t start. Will be interesting though, if he leads Ulster to a surprise win on Saturday, sure to make Meyer sit up and take note.

    Agree about Mostert, a big loss. Been wasting away at Stade Francais, in and out of team that has been all over the place this season, now just sacked their head coach after missing T14 play-off spot. This boy should have been given much better guidance, don’t know if it was a greedy agent or something that got him to move. Always felt Mostert/Marais lock combo was future for Sharks, but at least Bresler has stepped up in a big way this season.

  • Comment 15, posted at 17.05.12 10:31:08 by Alan Moscrop Reply

     
  • I say give Etzebeth a go against the Poms with Bekker(if fit) else with Juandre.

  • Comment 16, posted at 17.05.12 10:31:38 by Pokkel Reply
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  • @Bokhoring (Comment 11) :

    Will be interesting to see how his work-rate holds up. No need for another Hendrik Roodt. Big but pretty darn slow and useless.

  • Comment 17, posted at 17.05.12 10:33:13 by hendrikp Reply

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  • @molly (Comment 13) :

    Oh damn.. must be smoking my socks then..

    Apologies..

    I rate Flip, I think he is a good jumper, competes at opposition lineouts and is good at scrum time, giving weight behind the prop and hooker..

  • Comment 18, posted at 17.05.12 10:35:57 by Richard Ferguson Reply
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  • @Alan Moscrop (Comment 15) :

    Had Mostert stayed with the Sharks, I reckon Sykes would never have come back..

    Agree regarding your point on Bresler, he has stepped up this year, showing Hargreaves how it is done..

  • Comment 19, posted at 17.05.12 10:37:36 by Richard Ferguson Reply
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  • In the tight 5 its all about combos. Your props and hooker must be able to scrum together, some people just dont mesh and the scrum is a shambles. Same with the locks, they must be able to work off each other and at the same time have a good understanding with the props and hookers. Make no mistake England are not to be underestimated, especially their forwards.

  • Comment 20, posted at 17.05.12 10:37:57 by SheldonK Reply

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  • @hendrikp (Comment 10) :

    Oh that guy..

    Will look out for him come Currie Cup time..

  • Comment 21, posted at 17.05.12 10:38:16 by Richard Ferguson Reply
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  • One big ommission from this article Rich.

    I can’t believe I’m actually saying this. Victor Matfield.

    Has there been any final comment that he WON’T be available? If he is I’d go with a Etzebeth, Matfield starting pair and Bekker off the bench or maybe Bekker Matfield with Etzebeth off the bench in the 1st test to not throw Etzebeth completely in the deep end.

  • Comment 22, posted at 17.05.12 10:56:12 by KSA Shark © Reply

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  • JW once mentioned that Bakkies and Matfield compliment each other perfectly with Bakkies playing the rough tight game and Matfield being more loose. Etzebeth would be an ideal Bakkies replacement.

  • Comment 23, posted at 17.05.12 10:58:21 by KSA Shark © Reply

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  • @Richard Ferguson (Comment 21) :

    TBH, I’m more excited to see a fit Ruan Venter. Won’t mean much if he can’t get over the injuries though… and a real shame he’s been left out of the SA U20 team, presumably because of those injuries.

  • Comment 24, posted at 17.05.12 10:59:35 by hendrikp Reply

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  • @Richard Ferguson (Comment 7) : @Alan Moscrop (Comment 4) : Agree about Johann Muller due to his current form, his experience and his leadership abilities!

    I wrote an article at the beginning of the year where I said that our Bok captain could come from overseas due to injuries and lack of leadership amongst the local Bok hopefuls.

    I’d be happy to see a combination of Bekker and Muller with Etzebeth or Kruger on the bench. Maybe even both as they could both cover flank if needed due to their mobility!

  • Comment 25, posted at 17.05.12 11:06:16 by ChrisS Reply
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  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 22) :

    I’m pretty sure Matfield is out of the picture else we would have seen him playing again by now. No ways he can play a test without having played at least 3 or 4 S15 games and time is just about up for that to happen.

  • Comment 26, posted at 17.05.12 11:08:13 by Pokkel Reply
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  • @Pokkel (Comment 26) : Agree 100%!!

  • Comment 27, posted at 17.05.12 11:09:25 by ChrisS Reply
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  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 22) :

    As Pokkel said..

    It was an assumption based on pure lack of game time, and he actually never attended any of the training camps either ;-)

  • Comment 28, posted at 17.05.12 11:47:26 by Richard Ferguson Reply
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  • Etzebeth will be a Bok. But Flip should start. I don’t think that Meyer is one of those who gets carried away with 1 season of good rugby.

    So we wouldn’t see Goosen, Koster, Sadie etc in the team, even if they were physically ready and able to get through a SR season (leave alone Test rugby) uninjured.

  • Comment 29, posted at 17.05.12 11:51:12 by Big Fish Reply
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  • Flip is kak.

    Hot headed and work rate is nowhere near that of Etsebeth, Sykes and even Estadt when he was playing 4 last year.

  • Comment 30, posted at 17.05.12 12:01:05 by John Galt Reply

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  • @Big Fish (Comment 29) : Flip is seriously off the boil.

  • Comment 31, posted at 17.05.12 12:08:07 by Megatron Reply

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  • @Big Fish (Comment 29) :

    Not even JP du Plessis??

    :shock: :mrgreen:

  • Comment 32, posted at 17.05.12 12:17:18 by wpw Reply
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  • @Megatron (Comment 31) :
    You think we should start with Etzebeth? Given the loss of experienced heads and injuries to some key loosies, I just don’t think that we should bring in a new lock against a team like England.

    @wpw (Comment 32) : No man can stand in the way of The One. As soon as he is done solving the problem of world hunger he will be good to go.

  • Comment 33, posted at 17.05.12 12:35:34 by Big Fish Reply
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  • @Big Fish (Comment 33) : It is not like Flip has that many starting caps either. He has 11 Bok caps in total – of which I am not sure how many he started

  • Comment 34, posted at 17.05.12 12:42:32 by Bokhoring Reply

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  • @Bokhoring (Comment 34) :

    But he has 5 plus years of Super rugby under his belt, alongside some of the best in the business..

  • Comment 35, posted at 17.05.12 12:45:02 by Richard Ferguson Reply
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  • @Big Fish (Comment 33) : who are the English locks, mouritz botha and who else?

    eben can take those cats man!

  • Comment 36, posted at 17.05.12 12:45:48 by Megatron Reply

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  • @Richard Ferguson (Comment 35) : How many years did Bakkies have when he manhandled the much vaunted Irish locks in 2004?

  • Comment 37, posted at 17.05.12 12:49:56 by Bokhoring Reply

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  • @Bokhoring (Comment 37) :

    Made his Super Rugby debut in 2002 already..

    So that’s at least three years..

  • Comment 38, posted at 17.05.12 12:51:48 by Richard Ferguson Reply
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  • @Bokhoring (Comment 37) :

    He also featured in both U19 and U23 teams for SA, as well as touring Europe in 2001 with a South African A team..

  • Comment 39, posted at 17.05.12 12:53:46 by Richard Ferguson Reply
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  • I see your point, but there is something about Etzebeth

  • Comment 40, posted at 17.05.12 13:11:23 by Bokhoring Reply

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  • You can’t always go back to this one played for SA U19 or U21. I know of a lot of these players who disappeared totally from the rugby scene. Look at current form when selections are made.

  • Comment 41, posted at 17.05.12 13:33:35 by Marge Reply

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  • @Bokhoring (Comment 40) :
    But that’s what we’re back to then, right? Precedent says that particularly T5 players need some experience to shine, so its going against a safe, reliable option on the basis of 1 good season.

  • Comment 42, posted at 17.05.12 13:37:41 by Big Fish Reply
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  • Meyer will stick with the experience – so it will probably be Flip and Bekker

  • Comment 43, posted at 17.05.12 13:41:33 by Bokhoring Reply

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  • hi there.bekker a must for starters.

  • Comment 44, posted at 17.05.12 17:41:21 by loftus1 Reply

     
  • I nearly choked when I saw that Flip is suggested. WTH? Walking yellow card. He is the stupid man’s Bakkies Botha. It should only be Kruger, Bekker and Etsebeth. I reckon a guy like Sykes would also add value – hard worker going about it week in and week out.

  • Comment 45, posted at 18.05.12 08:01:03 by King Shark Reply
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  • @Bokhoring (Comment 43) : Flip only has 11 tests of which he only started 3. Hardly what I call experience. If you play Etsebeth for example, he would surpass Flip’s bok game time by the end of the year.

  • Comment 46, posted at 18.05.12 08:04:26 by King Shark Reply
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  • @King Shark (Comment 46) :

    Experience comes in more than one form..

    Springbok experience alone is not what we are referring to here..

  • Comment 47, posted at 18.05.12 08:08:39 by Richard Ferguson Reply
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  • @King Shark (Comment 46) : It is what I said earlier on too. I would select Bekker and Etsebeth myself, but I think Meyer will go for Bekker and Flip. With Bekker’s injury history, we will end up with Kruger and Flip probably

  • Comment 48, posted at 18.05.12 08:34:55 by Bokhoring Reply

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