Richard Ferguson

The captaincy conundrum

Written by Richard Ferguson (Richard Ferguson)

Posted in :Original Content, Springboks on 7 May 2013 at 11:11
Tagged with : , , , , , , , , , , ,

Tomorrow, in a month’s time, the Springboks play their first International fixture of the year, against Italy at Kings Park. The biggest question surrounding this date is who will lead out the team that day.

Jean de Villiers is the current captain, even though he was only appointed for the 2012 calendar year. Heyneke Meyer might have little choice but to continue with the stalwart, but will this be a good thing? Can the Springboks do better than another season with Jean de Villiers at the helm?

The Boks are in a fortunate position that the June Internationals are not as serious as they have been in the past. Playing Italy, Scotland and then any of Italy, Scotland or Samoa on the final day of the quadrangular tournament does seem like we can risk a few of the inexperienced players. Meyer’s tactics going into this three week period will be interesting, as he will lose his players for two more months of Super Rugby before they re-assemble to take part in the Rugby Championship.

One of two things can happen. Meyer can opt for a few new players and combinations with one beady eye on the future, or he will look to get his combinations settles against the early opposition in an attempt to build consistency before tackling the bigger nations.

As it stands, Meyer is already without a host of key players. His early choice of captain in Schalk Burger is yet to take part in training with the Stormers, and his absence is looking increasingly like that of Juan Smith, where we will one day wake up to a retirement announcement. Apart from the injury rot, there are also key individuals who have already agreed terms to leave South Africa and will not be available to play in the Rugby Championship. Do these players now take part in June only to leave the Boks setup once they leave for Europe?

Taking all of this into account, the Boks have a few leaders from which they will have to select a captain. The easiest will be to stick with Jean de Villiers. He has been playing some of the best rugby we have seen from him in years. The only negative is that he lacks an important captain’s trait, which is the ability to motivate the players when the team is on the back foot.

Two other candidates spring to mind, in Adriaan Strauss and Pierre Spies. Strauss is almost certainly going to start for the Boks in the absence of a fit Bismarck du Plessis, but once the Sharks hooker is back, he will most likely return to the front row, leaving the Boks without a captain. Spies on the other hand, is a Meyer favourite, looks to be in good form at the moment and leads his team well. They are most certainly the form South African team at the moment and it will be great if Meyer can tap into that confidence and see similar rugby from the Boks.

Adriaan Strauss is a great captain himself and looks to have overcome some of his fitness concerns from earlier in the year. He has also led his Cheetahs team with aplomb, a team that has been very successful in Super Rugby this year.

Apart from these three, no other player currently in South Africa fits the mould of Springbok captain, and we surely cannot hand the captaincy of our national team to a player who is yet to captain his franchise.

All in all, it looks like we are in for an interesting month in terms of selections, and a very interesting year when it comes to looking at the Rugby Championship.


  • It’ll be De Villiers for sure.

  • Comment 1, posted at 07.05.13 11:18:02 by PTAShark Reply
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  • I would prefer not having De Villiers as captain. He seems to be as bad at decision making as Keegan.

  • Comment 2, posted at 07.05.13 11:22:20 by King Shark Reply
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  • Sadly I agree. De Villiers is playing great rugby and should be at centre but as a Stormer I have been a bit unsure of his decision making. My vote would be for Francois Louw.

  • Comment 3, posted at 07.05.13 11:31:00 by rumblo Reply
  • Francois louw is another option. Not sure where he is fitness wise…

  • Comment 4, posted at 07.05.13 11:33:42 by The Quirk Reply
    The Quirk
  • And all the talk about Keegan, who would we replace him with as captain in our team? When smit gets here he can groom him to become a better captain.

  • Comment 5, posted at 07.05.13 11:34:56 by Dunx Reply

  • @rumblo (Comment 3) :
    @The Quirk (Comment 4) :

    Should Louw surprise all and sundry and be announced captain, what will your loose trio look like?

    Spies at 8?

  • Comment 6, posted at 07.05.13 11:35:06 by Richard Ferguson Reply
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  • @Dunx (Comment 5) :

    At the Sharks the captain needs be someone who is actually a first choice in his position. We have very few of those at the moment, with injuries and all.

    I would opt for co-captains, something the Chiefs have been doing with Clarke and Messam. My choices would be between Jean Deysel and Bismarck du Plessis.

  • Comment 7, posted at 07.05.13 11:38:00 by Richard Ferguson Reply
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  • Spies at 8 alberts or duane at 7, as both cover off the bench. Think as long as spies is fit, hm will pick him at 8…

  • Comment 8, posted at 07.05.13 11:38:43 by The Quirk Reply
    The Quirk
  • @The Quirk (Comment 8) :

    Looking at the current options, Spies is probable the only viable option at 8. I am not sure Vermeulen will be good enough at the back.

    Would love to make space for Brussouw, but I fear that ship has sailed..

  • Comment 9, posted at 07.05.13 11:43:57 by Richard Ferguson Reply
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  • Strauss, not just for now, but also to lead us to the RWC.

  • Comment 10, posted at 07.05.13 11:53:16 by Morné Reply
  • @Morné (Comment 10) :

    Big call that..

    No space for Bismarck? Or do you know something about him leaving SA?

  • Comment 11, posted at 07.05.13 11:55:11 by Richard Ferguson Reply
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  • @Richard Ferguson (Comment 11) :

    You know where I come from (since john Smit days already)… I pick my captain first, and my team around that.

    Strauss for me is the best candidate, and currently (albeit in the absence of Bissie) the best hooker.

  • Comment 12, posted at 07.05.13 11:58:42 by Morné Reply
  • @Richard Ferguson (Comment 11) : Both Dup brothers got Bok contracts, which would indicate that they will be in SA till at least after the WC.

  • Comment 13, posted at 07.05.13 12:01:36 by Salmonoid Reply
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  • @Morné (Comment 12) :

    Fair enough..

    Strauss would have been first choice Bok captain if he had been playing for any other franchise..

  • Comment 14, posted at 07.05.13 12:04:35 by Richard Ferguson Reply
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  • @Salmonoid (Comment 13) :

    Contracts are only on a year-to-year basis.

    @Richard Ferguson (Comment 11) :

    The OTHER option of course (which requires a bit of out the box approach) is why saddle yourself (and commit yourself) to one captain only for an extended period, even a calender year?

    If you commit yourself as coach to one player for any extended period, you almost shoot yourself in the foot where a player hits a bad patch in form (as Pierre did last year) and as Adriaan is sure to hit soon given the amount of rugby he has played in the last 12 months…

    At any point and time we have leaders in the squad who are fit, and in good form – so why not pick a captain per tournament (June tours captain, Rugby Championship captain, EOYT captain, RWC captain when that comes, etc.). You may well end up picking the same guy for all of those, but at least if that player is injured or loses form badly, you allow yourself options.

    Every coach will talk about a core leadership group in his squad, Heyneke has done this himself in the past – any one of 3 or 5 guys should be able to step up and lead the team then…

  • Comment 15, posted at 07.05.13 12:07:32 by Morné Reply
  • @Morné (Comment 15) :

    I like that approach! It makes sense even more when you not only consider form, but injury. Injuries are sure to further deplete the Boks squad as we get closer to the first match.

  • Comment 16, posted at 07.05.13 12:09:36 by Richard Ferguson Reply
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  • @Morné (Comment 15) :

    To add, those youngsters like Botha who many rate as a future Bok captain can in a scenario like above, be the understudy or vice captain at any given tournament or tour and perhaps even captain the team in an instance with a Jean, Adriaan or Pierre (or all three) in the same team to guide him…

  • Comment 17, posted at 07.05.13 12:09:55 by Morné Reply
  • @The Quirk (Comment 8) : @Richard Ferguson (Comment 7) :

    When has Pierre Spies ever dominated a game for the Boks.??..and Im talking since the June Test series in 2007!!!

    And for that matter when has Pierre Spies ever dominated a SuperRugby?? Im sorry guys I cant take a guy serious who has such an amazing athletic prowess, but absolutely nothing in commitment on both attack and Defense. When do you ever see Pierre smash someone in a tackle, smash guys off rucks, steal balls?? He hardly busts tackles either…

    And Brussow is still amazing!!!!

  • Comment 18, posted at 07.05.13 12:10:04 by pienaar111 Reply

  • @Morné (Comment 15) : Im sure I read that the latest contracts were effective till the world cup.

  • Comment 19, posted at 07.05.13 12:11:41 by Salmonoid Reply
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  • Morne, I couldn’t agree with you more, Adriaan Strauss just seems like the right man to take us to 2015. There is no better leader in SA Rugby at the moment, I think he’s as good as Bismarck has ever been with the added leadership dimension. Best hooker in World Rugby at the moment

  • Comment 20, posted at 07.05.13 12:15:27 by Ludz Reply

  • @Salmonoid (Comment 19) :

    Nope, only for 2013.

  • Comment 21, posted at 07.05.13 12:18:37 by Morné Reply
  • My dream loose trio would be Louw Vermeluelen and Brussouw.

    But if Louw were by some miracle made Captian. I would like
    6 Louw
    7 Steph Du toit
    8 Vermeulen

    And when Louw got the call last year he looked in prime condition. And from the write ups I’ve read he seems to be playing well?

  • Comment 22, posted at 07.05.13 12:27:49 by rumblo Reply
  • @Ludz (Comment 20) : Totally disagree that he is as good as Bismark has ever been. To me Bismark would make a world 15, on his playing ability and will go down in history, as one of the greatest springboks ever to pull on the green and gold.

  • Comment 23, posted at 07.05.13 12:32:12 by Bump Reply

  • Set piece (scrum and lineout), ball carrying, defence, breakdown effiency, offloading, ruck attendance, support play. Which aspect is Bissie better in apart from being slightly better at the breakdown?

  • Comment 24, posted at 07.05.13 12:42:35 by Ludz Reply

  • @Ludz (Comment 24) : True .Think Bismarck is a better ball carrier and as you said better at the breakdown, considerably better.

    This talk of Vermulen and Spies at 8 or 7 gives me a headache 🙁 Jaque Engelbrecht has done a shit ton more than either, but will be overlooked. I would like to see this trio ;6.Lappies 7.Alberts 8.Engelbrecht/Kankowski

  • Comment 25, posted at 07.05.13 13:05:46 by Talent Reply
  • Another name that deserves a mention is Siya Kolisi, before Arno Botha any day of the week.

  • Comment 26, posted at 07.05.13 13:07:16 by Talent Reply
  • My Bok side vs Italy and Scotland would be:

    15. W.le Roux 14. JP 13. JJ. Engelbrecht 12. Serfontein 11. Rhule 10. Lambie 9. Hougaard 1. Beast 2. Strauss (c) 3. Coenie 4. Etzebeth 5. Steph du Toit 6. Brussouw 7. Arno Botha 8. Vermeulen 16. Chiliboy 17. Malherbe 18. Flip 19. Kolisi 20. Reinach 21. Morne 22. Jean

  • Comment 27, posted at 07.05.13 13:15:46 by Saffex Reply

  • @Richard Ferguson (Comment 7) : I agree with your comment, he has to be first choice. But in our current squad who would you say fulfills that criteria? We need to be grooming our captains, and leaders within the squad. I haven’t seen keegan chatting to refs unless things are going really wrong.

  • Comment 28, posted at 07.05.13 13:21:02 by Dunx Reply

  • @Dunx (Comment 28) :

    One for the future is PSdT, but I am not sure if he is leadership material?

  • Comment 29, posted at 07.05.13 13:57:00 by Richard Ferguson Reply
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  • @Saffex (Comment 27) : Not bad Saf…

    Pienaar for Hougaard.
    Kanko for Vermeulen with Vermeulen at #7.
    And Herbst in for Malherbe.

    And Id give Ebersohn a run in the centres at some point. Hey Saf did you check my post in the ratings column?? It was just for you ;-)!!!

  • Comment 30, posted at 07.05.13 14:10:19 by pienaar111 Reply

  • @Richard Ferguson (Comment 29) : no, doesn’t strike me as the type

  • Comment 31, posted at 07.05.13 14:27:17 by robdylan Reply
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  • @Saffex (Comment 27) : 12 and 13 dont pass well enough to be paired together. Like Willie Le Roux’s inclusion .Not sure about 7/8 or 3 for that matter .

  • Comment 32, posted at 07.05.13 14:27:20 by Talent Reply
  • @Ludz (Comment 24) : Major difference between the two players imo, is that Bissy is the mongrel in the team, something that very few players have.

  • Comment 33, posted at 07.05.13 14:40:22 by Bump Reply

  • @pienaar111 (Comment 30) : No thanks to Pienaar, Hougaard looks back to his best and he is a world beater on form. We need him setting the world alight at 9 with ball in hand.

    Kankan, you have to be joking. The man cant make the Sharks touring squad. Kolisi, Vermeulen, Elstadt, Brussouw, Labascagne, v/d Walt, Arno Botha, Dewald Potgieter, Daniel and Coetzee are all ahead of Kankan right now.

    Nope Malherbe has been huge for the Stormers this year, dominant in the scrums and always prominent in general play. I like Herbst, but I prefer a good few others.

    Ebersohn is too small for test rugby – foget him and de Jongh.

    No did not see your post in the ratings……take it, it was Bosman with a 9?? He had a good game, but a 9 is a laugh.

  • Comment 34, posted at 07.05.13 14:56:35 by Saffex Reply

  • @Talent (Comment 32) : What bull, they play together for the Bulls where passing has never been an issue. Serfontein has good hands, has played 12 all his life. JJ’s passing game is good enough for 13.

    Vermeulen has been our best 8 by some distance. Arno Botha is the form SA flanker right now.

    Coenie has been huge in the scrums coming on at 3 for the Cheetahs and his presence and strength is second to none. For a prop he has x factor. Given how average Jannie has been, its time to move on. Coenie is the man

  • Comment 35, posted at 07.05.13 15:00:49 by Saffex Reply

  • @Saffex (Comment 34) : Pienaar is a class above my friend. Better kicker, better passer, better game manager and is an elusive runner. Kanko comment is fair – blame Plum for that. But in all honesty I dont care much for Bok selections these days. they all end up playing the same….

    And of course it was a Bosman reference. The man was dynamite on the weekend.

  • Comment 36, posted at 07.05.13 15:07:09 by pienaar111 Reply

  • @pienaar111 (Comment 36) : Hougaard’s service has been brilliant this year. His attacking game is far superior to Pienaar and no 9 can match Hougaard defensively.

    Pienaar has a better kicking game and thats where it ends, if its a kicking 9 we want. Give me an in form Hougaard anyday.

    Bok rugby needs to move on from the likes of Kankan, Spies and co amongst the loosies, we have an abundance of young talent there.

    The word dynamite and Bosman dont go together. He had a good game, but lets face it, it was hardly world beating. But I give him credit for his first acceptable game of the season

  • Comment 37, posted at 07.05.13 15:13:21 by Saffex Reply

  • @Saffex (Comment 27) : Coenie and Malherbe vs. the Italian forward pack? 😆

  • Comment 38, posted at 07.05.13 15:21:29 by FireTheLooser Reply

  • @Saffex (Comment 37) : PLEASE…Pienaar has the complete game at #9. Dont u watch the Rabo 12 up there?? you are in the UK arent u?? He dominates with his BMT. Pienaar has always had a great running game. NOT AS PHYSICAL FOR SURE but silky smooth…dont make me whip out the youtube clips.

    Hougaard doesnt have the reading of the game or distribution from #9. Hence the reason he was dropped last year. And the Bulls have been better with Jarno at the base…FACT

  • Comment 39, posted at 07.05.13 15:25:57 by pienaar111 Reply

  • @FireTheLooser (Comment 38) : yeah….NO I would rather die. give them time

  • Comment 40, posted at 07.05.13 15:35:44 by pienaar111 Reply

  • @FireTheLooser (Comment 38) : Oh without doubt, there is nothing special in the Italian scrum and if Coenie and Malherbe can stand firm against the best Oz, NZ and SA has to throw at them, then I’m sure the Italians will be a breeze.

    Malherbe has come of age this year and Coenie has been damn good in the scrums this year

  • Comment 41, posted at 07.05.13 15:53:01 by Saffex Reply

  • @pienaar111 (Comment 39) : Wrong, Hougaard was not dropped because of his distribution, he was dropped because his kicking was not up to scratch.

    Pienaar is a quality player and yes I have seen all his games up here. He has done nothing special with ball in hand. He makes the headlines for his goal kicking.

    Hougaard looks in good touch and on form is by far our best 9.

    Vermaak has been piss poor for the Bulls, until his last 2 matches. Hougaard has come on and looked even better

  • Comment 42, posted at 07.05.13 15:57:31 by Saffex Reply

  • @Morné (Comment 21) : Thanks.

  • Comment 43, posted at 07.05.13 15:57:50 by Salmonoid Reply
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  • @Saffex (Comment 41) : Coenie aint no tight head, I’d rather have Smit at th which was a disaster.

    Best young th in SA is Herbst, by a country mile. Did you not see what he did to the Saders scrum when he came on? They were stuck in reverse from then on out.

  • Comment 44, posted at 07.05.13 16:08:15 by FireTheLooser Reply

  • @Saffex (Comment 41) : Hmmm – I still have nightmares about what the Leicester front row spearheaded by Martin Castrogiovanni did to the Boks on that EOY tour a few years ago. We should beat Italy comfortably at home but we would be foolish to underestimate their scrum – one of the things they usually do reasonably well.

  • Comment 45, posted at 07.05.13 16:57:06 by steve Reply

  • @steve (Comment 45) : The starting Bok front row that wet evening was Gurthro Steenkamp, Chiliboy and Jannie du Plessis with Danie Rossouw and Andries Bekker at lock.
    Heres what the Guardian had to say;

    “The Tigers were superb, their front row especially so, brutal and unforgiving.
    South Africa’s assistant coach Dick Muir said he had never seen a Springbok front five so comprehensively outmuscled: “You can’t play this game without any possession. We were poor at the breakdown and poor at set pieces so we couldn’t get the game going. We just move on. We came over here with an experiment and perhaps it didn’t come off as planned.

    “I don’t think I’ve ever seen [a South Africa pack] as bad as that, especially from a coaching perspective. We were given a bit of a lesson at the scrums. Hats off to the Tigers.”

  • Comment 46, posted at 07.05.13 17:14:52 by steve Reply

  • @FireTheLooser (Comment 44) : You have clearly not seen Coenie off the bench at 3 this season then, for if you had you would not be making that naive call. Coenie wants to play tighthead, Os wants him to play tighthead, the Boks need him to play tighthead. He destroyed the Stormers scrum coming off the bench playing at 3.

    Herbst is good, but he is not the best young tighthead. When Herbst had come on, the Saders were without Crockett at loosehead and they were hardly dominated. The best young tightheads are Coenie, Malherbe and Frik Kirsten. Herbst is up there, but give me Coenie and Malherbe anyday

  • Comment 47, posted at 07.05.13 17:39:19 by Saffex Reply

  • @steve (Comment 45) : Agreed, they have a solid scrum, but Castro is done and plays second fiddle to Cole at the Tigers now.

    Coenie has been strong at 3 off the bench, I have no issue with him standing strong against the Italians

  • Comment 48, posted at 07.05.13 17:41:38 by Saffex Reply

  • @Saffex (Comment 35) : You are just to much of an asshole to have a conversation with 😆 but I respect your opinion and will continue to laugh at what a hard time you give other bloggers 😆 😆 😆 :mrgreen:

    You are so condescending and pompous 😈 KEEP it up mr unwilling troll

  • Comment 49, posted at 07.05.13 17:58:29 by Talent Reply
  • @Talent (Comment 49) : I am always right!!

  • Comment 50, posted at 07.05.13 18:41:02 by Saffex Reply

  • Reading some of you it looks like the bokke must only run onto the field to beat the Italians, just like some super rugby teams. If players fall into that mindset bokke will go same way the French did.

  • Comment 51, posted at 07.05.13 23:10:02 by JD Reply
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  • @Talent (Comment 49) : @Saffex (Comment 50) : And yet…Always right and saying Hougaard is the best #9 is quite contradictory. And NO he has not been on form. Did you not watch the Bulls with Hougie before he got injured??? They were shit…

  • Comment 52, posted at 08.05.13 05:27:39 by pienaar111 Reply

  • @pienaar111 (Comment 52) : Now you are speaking complete nonsense. Hougaards service in those first few games before his injury was brilliant. It served as part of the reason Morne rediscovered his form. The service he received from Hougaard gave him time on the ball.

    Go check the games out on Youtube if you want. You are wrong about Hougaard, he was solid with a great service pre his injury and since his return, we can see the old spark back. On form, there is no SA 9 to touch Hougie, not even close. Hougaard is a game breaker, Pienaar is not

  • Comment 53, posted at 08.05.13 10:28:50 by Saffex Reply


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