The Springboks host England in a three test series starting on 9 June 2012, with the first match taking place at our very own Mr Price Kings Park. We continue our series, looking at the potential midfield combination that our new coach, Heyneke Meyer, might select.
The biggest debates when it comes to the centre combinations, are whether the mercurial Frans Steyn will be selected at inside centre, and who will replace Jaque Fourie in the outside centre jersey. Should Frans Steyn be the chosen one in the 12 jersey, it will make Jean de Villiers available for either the 13 jersey, or potentially a wing jersey.
The competition for the 13 jersey is not such a fantastic one at that, with only Juan de Jongh having represented the Boks in this jersey of all the players left in country, forgetting for a moment that Zane Kirchner has a few caps at outside centre. Jean de Villiers himself could shift one over and form a centre combination with Steyn, but de Villiers hardly has game time in this position, yet I am sure he will make the best of it, and will also be a leader in a team lacking a captain at this stage.
Should coach Meyer opt to play Frans Steyn at fullback, Jean de Villiers will be the obvious choice for the inside centre jersey, with Juan de Jongh outside him. These two have played all season long for the Stormers, where their defence has made a stronger point for their inclusion than their attack.
Other players who could feature include Wynand Olivier, who has represented the Boks 34 times already, and the rest being long shots in Tim Whitehead, Andries Strauss and maybe even Robert Ebersohn. The gaping hole left by Jaque Fourie has opened the door to a youngster to stake a claim, and it will be interesting to see who the new coach backs in this role.
His other option, which I personally think is highly unlikely, would be to experiment with either Bryan Habana or JP Pietersen in midfield, both having had short stints in the position during the Super Rugby campaign. This, I feel, should be done only in case of an emergency, with other players being able to fulfil the role better than a makeshift centre.
Meyer’s probable picks:
13.Jean de Villiers
Ferguson’s form picks:
12.Jean de Villiers
13.Juan de Jongh