The Currie Cup Final is the showpiece this weekend, but there will be a few players with their minds on Monday night’s Springbok squad announcement, to go on the End of year Tour.
Even though there are a few Springboks in action anyway, even the Springbok captain, there will be some player who would want to put in an extra special performance to sway selection in their favour. We can start with the most obvious of all, being Deon Fourie.
Fourie has led Western Province with intent in this season, following in the lead from the front captaincy, having probably had his best Currie Cup season. This is quite a statement after the player was named the 2012 Currie Cup Player of the Year. He is surely in line for that award again this year, and that type of consistency is sure to make Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer sit up and take notice.
There is a slight snag in Fourie’s Springbok chances – Fourie is actually a hooker, and the Springboks already have two world class hookers to juggle. And to be fair, Fourie isn’t exactly the greatest hooker out there. I do not even think Fourie is the best hooker in the Cape, but he sure is one hell of a loose forward. This is the position is which he has shown the greatest form and should be the position in which he targets to represent his country. The Springboks have a wealth of loose forwards to choose from, with Francois Louw currently cemented in the six jersey. That would leave Fourie as a second choice behind him, should he be selected for this tour (which I would expect him to be). In the unlikely event of Louw not making it for the tour, for whatever reason, Fourie is right up there as a specialist breakdowner. Another good performance, both in play and in leadership, would see his shares with Meyer rise, unless Meyer already has Arno Botha lined up to go on tour.
Staying with the home team, there are two more players I think should be in line for Springbok selection, starting with hooker Scarra Ntubeni. Now, I am not a fan of giving a player a cap simply for having a good Currie Cup season, but in this case, I think he is one for the future. He is an agile hooker, much like Craig Burden, but he actually gets the hooker’s job done as well, in terms of scrumming and getting the line-outs right. And for those that want to tell me he is too small for the scrums, think back two weeks ago when he was in the middle of a dominant Western Province front row that put the Springbok front row on the back foot.
The big question is, can the Springboks afford to take both Deon Fourie and Scarra Ntubeni on tour, or rather, is it necessary? Should Fourie make the tour party, the Boks, by default, already have a third hooker on tour, so do they really have the need for another?
The final Western Province player having a go at Springbok selection is Demetri Catrakilis. The Greek won the Currie Cup for Western Province last year, and had a great run in Super Rugby where he showed class in a team that was struggling all season. Back in Western Province colours for the latter part of the Currie Cup season, he has shown that class again, not only in his kicking abilities, but as a general. The battle between the two flyhalves might just be the reason Meyer only wants to select his team on Monday. In my mind, there are four flyhalves able to go on tour: Morne Steyn, Pat Lambie, Johan Goosen and Demetri Catrakilis. Not all of them can go, and we know Meyer’s love for Goosen will lean towards him going along. Does that rule out Catrakilis or only force Lambie to go as a fullback? Some interesting choices to be made.
On the Pat Lambie dilemma, he is one of the Sharks that is sure to go on tour, but is set to get a raw deal yet again. Lambie got about 30 minutes of game time during the Rugby Championship, and this showed in his rustiness when he eventually got back to the Sharks. Now that he has had a few minutes on the park, he is slowly starting to look like the player we all know he can be. Does that mean I think he should start at flyhalf for the Springboks? No. Do I think he deserves a run at flyhalf for the second half? Yes. Whether he actually gets into the match 22 as a flyhalf remains to be seen.
I was going to complete my article by discussing Jean Deysel’s chances of making the tour after his solid Currie Cup campaign, but he is injured for the final, and we are not sure the extent of the injury. Deysel has been the form loose forward for the Sharks this season, again, we are seeing a player get back into the form that we saw prior to the injuries that ruined many a season for him. Should he make it into the Springbok squad based on that? I don’t know. I would want to see an extended period of consistent form before I put him into the Green and Gold jersey, but then again, if Arno Botha is primed to tour after last playing in the June Internationals, then Deysel can just as well tour!
We can go on for hours discussing each player’s chances, but I think I have touched on the important ones. If you feel I have missed anybody, please do not hold back in the comments below.Tweet