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
Ferguson Form selection:
4.Flip van der Merwe