The Springbok squad selected to tour is filled with a mixture of experience and youth, and with a few new players in the setup, will Heyneke Meyer continue with the tried and tested in Morne Steyn, or will he use this tour as a license to try the untested.
A squad of 31 players will be joined by one other as they head into the final three games of the year, before taking a bit of a break over Christmas and then doing it all over again. Certain players are fortunate enough to be resting already, with the likes Schalk Burger, Bryan Habana, Bismarck du Plessis, Frans Steyn, Pierre Spies and Andries Bekker getting an extended, albeit injury enforced, break.
This tour, being played against Ireland, Scotland and England, presents a great opportunity for Heyneke Meyer to try some new combinations, as those that he had in mind are clearly not working. There is no series loss to worry about, or poor showing in a Rugby Championship, so he should be able to pick just about any team he pleases and get away any results over those three weeks.
My worry is that Meyer is concerned about keeping his job and as a result will stick to his game plan and his prior selections, stringing along the new and uncapped players only to carry tackle bags and make up the numbers.
From his squad, I have a clear idea who I would have selected if it were up to me, but I fear we will see the return of Morne Steyn to the starting line-up, with very few other changes being made to the team that went down to the All Blacks in Soweto.
Here is the team that I would have selected to take to the field against Ireland, and in brackets the starting team that I suspect Heyneke Meyer will select:
1.Beast Mtawarira (Beast Mtawarira)
2.Chiliboy Ralepelle (Adriaan Strauss)
3.Pat Cilliers (Jannie du Plessis)
4.Eben Etzebeth (Eben Etzebeth)
5.Juandré Kruger (Juandré Kruger)
6.Francois Louw (Francois Louw)
7.Marcell Coetzee (Willem Alberts)
8.Duane Vermeulen (Duan Vermeulen)
9.Ruan Pienaar (Ruan Pienaar)
10.Elton Jantjies (Morné Steyn)
11.Lwazi Mvovo (Lwazi Mvovo)
12.Jean de Villiers (Jean de Villiers)
13.Juan de Jongh (Jaco Taute)
14.JP Pietersen (JP Pietersen)
15.Jaco Taute (Zane Kirchner)
Just to point out some of the thinking in putting together my version of the squad –
Chiliboy is a more dynamic hooker than Strauss, and I feel he will be a better backup to Bismarck once the big guy is back.
We know what we have in Jannie, and Jannie has had a massive workload all season, so I would give Cilliers a crack at it to see if he can do the job.
Willem Alberts has had a long season as well, and from the Currie Cup Final, one can see he is tired and also rather one dimensional at the moment, whereas Coetzee can add something special on that side of the scrum.
My views on Elton have been made public on many occasions, and I will stick with that. Pat Lambie is definitely my backup to Elton in this team, and also the reason I have not selected him at fullback.
Juan de Jongh is a centre and should play there, not a young fullback. Simple really.
Taute over Kirchner – don’t think I have to explain that to anyone.