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First off, here’s this week’s team:
15. Andries Coetzee (2)
14. Deon Van Rensburg *
13. Juan De Jongh (4)
12. Jean de Villiers (4)
11. Bryan Habana (4)
10. Elton Jantjies *
9. Francois Hougaard (8)
8. Josh Strauss *
7. Dewald Potgieter *
6. Siya Kolisi (5)
5. Juandre Kruger (6)
4. Eben Etzebeth (7)
3. Pat Cilliers (2)
2. Callie Visagie *
1. Dean Greyling (2)
This week’s team of the week has a little bit of a different feel to it. The Lions have the most players in this week’s team and I thought with the upcoming Bok match and most of the focus already on this coming weekend, I’d use our team of the week numbers to give an idea of which individuals we thought were the in form SA players this year.
Steven Kitshoff 5
Coenie Oosthuizen 3
Beast Mtwarira 3
Making up the numbers: Dean Greyling (2), Caylib Oosthuizen
We thought Kitshoff had a consistently good season, but he’s still young and has now been given a chance to represent his country at the under 21 World Cup. All in all it looks like Beast and Coenie were the right picks, especially given the fact that Beast had a late start.
Bismark Du Plessis 7
Chilliboy Ralepella 4
Adriaan Struass 3
Making up the numbers: Callie Visagie
This was one of the more obvious areas of selection. Early in the season there was question on who the starting hooker should be, I think Bismark has done enough to prove that he is now the best, but not without some pressure from Chilliboy and Struass.
WP Nel 7 (Leaving for Europe)
Werner Kruger 3
Pat Cilliers 2
Making up the numbers: Frans Malherbe, Brok Harris
WP Nel’s decision to leave for Europe may have affected this selection although Werner Kruger who played under Meyer and has those two test caps behind his name may have been preferred anyway.
Jannie du Plessis
He didn’t crack our team once, but his experience and combination with the rest of the Sharks front row makes him an automatic selection. In the 30 times he’s represented his country he has also never let a Bok team down.
Eben Etzebeth 7
Juandre Kruger 6
Andries Bekker 4 (Injured)
Anton Bresler 4
Steven Sykes 4
Making up the numbers: Goerge Earle, Andries Ferreira, Flip van der Merwe
It’s great to see that our two young locks were rewarded for their outstanding form throughout the season. They may even be trusted as the starting combination. Flip van der Merwe had an unusually quiet season but as far as an enforcer lock goes he has shown in previous seasons has what it takes and will be a good back-up for Etzebeth.
Franco van der Merwe
He never made it into our team, but this could be more due to the fact that the Lions have been struggling, rather than a good indication of his form. With the loss of experience due to players retiring and the recent injury of Andries Bekker, Franco van der Merwe seems like a fairly logical call up.
Marcell Coetzee 9
Siya Kolisi 5
Jacques Botes 3
Jacques Potgieter 2
Willem Alberts 2
Making up the numbers: CJ Stander (2), Heinrich Brussouw (2), Rynhardt Elstadt, Duane Vermeulen, Dewald Potgieter.
Another young player rewarded for good form, clearly Marcell Coetzee has something special and it has been evident to all throughout this season. No one is arguing his selection, but the omission of Kolisi who has also been impressive is a little surprising, as the young Stormers player has also been outstanding for his team. Although Alberts hasn’t been at his best his selection is understandable, as the coach has placed some trust in the players form before his injuries this year. Jacques Potgieter for Brussouw is one of the biggest surprises, clearly our new national coach places lesser importance on the value of a good ball fetcher and protector. He has also explained this selection by pointing out that other players in other positions can take this responsibility and has been doing this just as well and better than Brussouw this season.
Pierre Spies 4
Keegan Daniel 4
Duane Vermuelen 2
Making up the numbers: Nizaam Carr, Waren Whiteley, Nick Koster, Ashley Johnson, Josh Struass.
Pierre Spies has returned to some form this year and with quite a number of injuries in this area was never going to lose his spot at the back of the scrum. Keegan has been selected as a loose forward. He has showed some of his best in recent weeks but his selection was still quite surprising.
He’s played very little rugby this year and has not been in the best of form of late. Apparently though, Meyer is just as big a fan of the player (as am I) and could have selected Kankowski based on what he could bring to the Boks if he plays to his potential.
Francois Hougaard 8
Dewaldt Duvenage 3
European selection: Ruan Pienaar
Making up the numbers: Jano Vermaak, Charl McLeod, Piet van Zyl
According to our selections Duvenage would have been a fair option as cover for Hougaard but as it is Ruan Pienaar may start and Hougaard used as a utility cover. Vermaak’s selection, a player who had to sit on the bench the whole season, is an indication of the lack of quality scrumhalves in this country.
Patrick Lambie 5
Peter Grant 4
Morne Steyn 2
Making up the numbers: Johan Goosen (2), Elton Jantjies
Morne Steyn was never going to lose his place in the team and although he only made our team twice and I’m not the biggest fan of how he plays, he has been solid and integral for the Bulls. Maybe Lambie or Jantjies will be given an opportunity at some point as both these players present an exciting prospect for the future. This is why the omission of Grant is a no brainer for me. The injury of Johan Goosen has left the “make-Johan-Goosen-the-Bok-flyhalf” debate wide open.
Juan De Jongh 5
Tim Whitehead 4
Jean De Villiers 4
Meyer Bosman 3
European selection: Frans Steyn
Making up the numbers: Paul Jordaan (2), Andries Struass (2), Robert Eberson (2), Jp Pieterson (2), Francois Venter, Bryan Habana, Jaco Taute, Wynand Olivier
Twelve players were selected in the two centre position over 14 weeks. Four players showed some consistency, but only one of them were selected for the Bok team. Wynand Olivier must be there for his experience, but relative to the Boks and how much he’s played for them and the fact that 3 of the centres selected are inside centres, this selection does not make sense to me.
It’s interesting that Meyer would leave one of the most consistent performers in the centres out of the squad completely and replace him with a young player who never cemented his spot for his provincial team during this season. Having said that JJ is a good young player with a lot of potential so I won’t question his selection, but rather the omission of de Jongh.
Willie Le Roux 5
Lwazi Mvovo 5
Akona Ndugane 4
Bryan Habana 4
Making up the Numbers: Gio aplon (2), Odwa Ndugane (2), Jp Pieterson (2), Bjorn Basson (2), Danie Poolman
It’s hard to argue the four selections made for the wings. Habana has slowly been returning to form, not the explosive player he used to be, but still a 50 plus cap Springbok. Then there’s JP who had to cover the midfield for most of this season for the Sharks, although he also had a few good runs at the wing. It’s JP’s reputation more than anything else that has him penned into the Bok team. Mvovo was the form wing in the South African conference and given that Meyer has made it clear that he will be playing a Bulls’ or (his style) of rugby, Basson is just the man to contest the up and unders that Steyn and Hougaard will surely put up. The only man unlucky to miss out on a call up is Willie le Roux.
Joe Pietersen 4
Zane Kirchner 2
Making up the Numbers: Riaan Viljoen (2), Louis Ludik (2), Andries Coetzee (2) Jaco Tuate, Patrick Lambie
Zane Kirchner ahead of Joe Pietersen has been another big talking point. Joe has been really good for the Stormers, not just this season, but over the past few years. His size may be considered a problem, although this hasn’t stopped him from putting in more good performances than any other SA fullback. He’s also an excellent goal kicker and could have been an option if Lambie (who’s kicking has also improved, but may still not be up to standard) was to be given a shot at flyhalf. As mentioned before, Willie le Roux has also been in awesome form and has been one of the outstanding outside backs of the competition. He has mentioned that he prefers playing fullback and could have replaced the uninspiring Kirchner as fullback cover.
Joe Pietersen may also still be injured at the moment? He didn’t start against the Bulls and wasn’t on the bench either. That may be why he wasn’t considered for the final Springbok squad. Meyer may actually be a fan of his style of play – especially because he had such an educated boot.
All in all, I think Meyer did a pretty decent job of selecting his first squad. I really don’t think any of his selections were made based on Bulls’ bias. If anything he probably just feels that these are the best players for him to work with to produce his first win as the Bok coach and that should be enough reason for a selection. I say good luck to him and all the boys who made it into the team.
So our team of the competition:
15. Joe Pietersen
14. Willie le Roux
13. Juan de Jongh
12. Tim Whitehead
11. Lwazi Mvovo
10. Patrick Lambie
9. Francois Hougaard
8. Pierre Spies
7. Marcell Coetzee
6. Siya Kolisi
5. Juandre Kruger
4. Eben Etzebeth
3. WP Nel
2. Bismark Du Plessis
1. Steven Kitshoff
Beast Mtwarira, Chilliboy Ralapelle, Anton Bresler, Keegan Daniel, Dewaldt Duvenage, Jean de Villiers, Peter Grant
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