With 10 Weeks done and dusted in Super Rugby 2012 and having a fair idea of which players are performing and which players are injured, maybe it’s time for the Guru’s of Rugby-Talk to do the Following:
- Name their 15 Springbok starters
- Next to the above names to pen down 2nd choice players in the various positions
- Explain in detail why players are chosen as starters and why 2nd Choice players are chosen
In turn the Guru’s out there in the blogesphere, whether registered as bloggers or not, will have the opportunity to name their own side (with 2nd Choices) and take some swings at the Authors and each other.
Registered Bloggers just Login with their normal particulars, Non-Registered Bloggers will have to supply a Name (nickname is fine) and an E-Mail Address.
The rules are… there are no rules except to leave parents, wives and children out of the picture and to behave within the bounds of decent undecency.
At the same time, as this Article will be seen as fun and good natured banter, nobody is allowed to get angry… and by participating accept that whatever is said, written or inferred, is done so in jest and with the general aims and purpose of Rugby-Talk in mind.
Here we will go head to head, toe to toe… and get our frustrations out into the open.
Are you clear about all of that, muppits, moepels & mopkoppe… and friends?
The Article will consist of 3 portions, namely:
- The View and Opinion of grootblousmile in BLUE
- The View and Opinion of Scrumdown in RED
- The View and Opinion of Just for Kicks in DARK BLUE
The different colours suggest the Author’s Provincial preference… although it must be noted that no Bulls supporter can ever be accused of applying preferential treatment or being biased, they are far too level-headed and intelligent for that.
OK, here goes:
Springbok Starting side (with 2nd choice players next to it in brackets)
15. Joe Pietersen (Patrick Lambie)
- In a Stormers team, this man defends well, attacks well, kicks to posts and is in good form.
- Patrick Lambie would normally have been my first choice but he has to play at flyhalf in a disjointed Sharks outfit this year, the choice was a close one to call.
- Jaco Taute was unlucky to miss out.
14. Gio Aplon (JP Pietersen)
- This smallish oke has huge heart, blistering speed, defends well and is a game breaker of note.
- Who else excells at right wing at present? Certainly nobody from the Lions, Akona Ndungane of the Bulls is solid but not spectacular, JP Pietersen of the Sharks is now utilized as a No 13 in a struggling team and I think the Cheetahs wings are leaky on defence.
- JP Pietersen comes close.
13. Bryan Habana (JJ Engelbrecht)
- The man has finally recovered some form after a few dismal seasons and I back him for experience… and for knowing Heyneke very well.
- JJ Engelbrecht is my wild card pick, I have been hugely imressed with what he’s done at the Bulls, The couple of times JJ Engelbrecht came on as outside centre sub for the Bulls and the couple of times he started, things started happening. Takes a break well, distributes well, coming on in leaps and strides.
- Robert Ebersohn came very damn close.. it was touch and go – he’s even upped his defence this year.
12. Francois Steyn (Juan de Jongh)
- No 12 suits this boykie in a Bokke jersey, like an udder suits a cow. Strong, direct, good boot to supplement the flyhalf, was good at the World Cup last year… and will be back in SA anyway.
- Juan is a bit predictable, tends to be a bit stingy with ball in hand but has huge potential.
- Far too early to speak about Tim Whitehead as an established No 12, has a lot to learn and do.
11. Lwazi Mvovo (Bjorn Basson)
- Close choice between Mvovo and Basson, could have gone for either one of the 2. Maybe I’m now doing what Heyneke would do and in a 50 / 50 call I chose the non-Bull.
- Willie le Roux is exciting and I considered him, but apart from brilliant attack, he is a bit thin on defence… in a leaky Cheetahs defensive system.
10. Morné Steyn (Patrick Lambie)
- Mr reliable & Mr effective.. and there is no reason to drop the incumbant ace kicker.
- Patrick Lambie does not cut it as flyhalf the way Morné does and is a better fullback. He is also not as spot-on kicking to goal, due to in my mind a very dodgy kicking technique where he curls the ball too much in the air on it’s way to the posts.
9. Francois Hougaard (Sarel Pretorius)
- Hougie is nuggety and things simply happen when he’s on the field. He rarely dies with the ball and has that needed X-factor.
- Nippy and accurate, but a bit frail on defence and he’s not even a starter in the Waratahs side, but he’s still better than the rest in SA.
8. Pierre Spies (Joshua Strauss)
- Despite what the non-Bulls say, he’s been good this season, is the incumbant No 8 and would be my choice as Vice Captain.
- Josh is regressing in my view and has become one-dimentional with ball in hand… but has huge potential to be developed.
- No other No 8 stands out, not Keegan Daniel, not Koster, not Carr… Duane Vermeulen is injured and will be out of action for a while.
7. Jacques Potgieter (Siya Kolisi)
- With Schalk Burger and Juan Smith out injured and Willem Alberts off form, new blood has to be found. Jacques Potgieter is abrasive, busy, robust, tackles well.
- Kolisi is sticking his hand up big time. The boy’s got talent, guts and heart.
6. Heinrich Brussöw (CJ Stander / Marcell Coetzee)
- There is only one contender, Heinrich Brussöw. I will always go for an out and out fether, to bring balance to a loose trio.
- With Deon Stegmann having been out for a while due to injury I can’t consider him at present because I simply don’t know what his form is like, so in stead I have to go with someone who has shown constant form. Difficult to pick a Lion because I think the Lions forwards is the reason for the Lions poor results, so it’s between a Bull and a Shark – CJ Stander or Marcell Coetzee.
5. Juandre Kruger (Wilhelm Steenkamp)
- Juandré Kruger has certainly stepped into Matfield’s shoes well.
- Wilhelm Steenkamp is my 2nd choice, therfore the first question people will ask me is why Andries Bekker is not there… well he’s been woeful, shocking, injured, match-unfit, off form, shirks his basic duties for the glamour of the centre and wing berths – in short, he needs to get his act together.
4. Eben Etsebeth (Flip van der Merwe)
- Man, I like the way this 20-year old Eben Etsebeth is playing. He will be a monster in the next few years… and become a legend.
- The Sharks, Cheetahs and Lions locks do not impress me one bit, so Flip is my 2nd choice.
3. Patrick Celliers (Werner Kruger)
- How the mighty have fallen, Doc Jannie du Plessis is not even a shadow of his former self, whereas Patrick Celliers has been one of only a few Lions to impress me. He took his chances well.
- Werner Kruger is busy in the tight and loose exchanges, carries the ball well, defends like a trojan… he gets the job done.
2. Adriaan Strauss – Captain (Chiliboy Ralepelle)
- Coin toss material, but the last few weeks has plunged Bismarck du Plessis’ shares down, down, down… and the Springboks need a good captain. In Adriaan Strauss we have a monster hooker and a great captain, but Chiliboy Ralepelle is chasing him hard, having had his best 12 months in his career.
- Chiliboy Ralepelle comes very close to Adriaan Strauss, but unfortunately somebody has to be on the bench, and today my axe falls on Chiliboy.
- Bismarck du Plessis has the ability to be the best in the world and at times have been exactly that, but not in the last 2 or 3 months, I’m afraid.
1. Coenie Oosthuizen (Steven Kitshoff)
- Coenie Oosthuizen has to be my No 1 at the moment, with Beast only slowly starting to come back from injury and not near his best. Apart from Beast I am hesitant to select a foreign-based player like Gurthro Steenkamp, just because of past glory.
- Steven Kitshoff (Kitskos) surprised me this year to be frank and is an investment into the future of prop stocks.
- Dean Greyling is close, but I feel his scrumming technique needs a lot of work. A better man in the loose exchanges is difficult to find, one step wrong by Kitskos and Dean MacGuyver Greyling, also known as “Wors” will slot in.
Springbok Starting side (with 2nd choice players next to it in brackets)
Here goes with my first “Springbok Team”, and unlike GBS, I’m totally biased towards the JHB boys.
15. Joe Pietersen (Patrick Lambie)
- Joe Pietersen has been solid every time I’ve watched him play this season. Perhaps not the most dynamic attacking option, but his solid defence, accurate goal kicking, and (for the most part) sensible open play decision making make him my first choice Fullback for the ENGLAND series.
- Patrick Lambie is an enigma for me. He promises so much, and yet always seems to just fall a little short of what I expect. I think he needs to be in the group, but for me the jury is still out on his long term role in the Green and Gold group.
- Zane Kirchner seems to be going through a little bit of a slump, or perhaps just a hollow. He’s not done a lot wrong, but just hasn’t shone as he has previously for the Bulls. There’s always a chance that Heyneke Meyer may stick with what he’s familiar with, but in my opinion it would be to the detriment of the group as a whole.
- The “find” of 2011, Jaco Taute still impresses. Crossing the gain line almost at will, but in a totally inept Lions set up, and playing out of position, he’s always going to find it difficult to make the step up to the National side, despite his obvious talent.
14. Bjorn Basson (Gio Aplon)
- Bjorn has proven that he has speed, can take a ball in the air, both on defence and on attack, and has an eye for the try line. In my opinion, he is the future out wide for some years to come. No matter which wing he’s played on, he needs to be there.
- I’m somewhat worried about our defensive frailties out wide. Gio tries hard, but if push comes to shove, he may get steamrollered. He’s never short on guts though and will never capitulate.
13. JP Pietersen (Bryan Habana)
- Flip, we’re in the poo if our first two choices for outside centre are retreated wings. Sure Habana played there at provincial level, but hasn’t done so for some years. JP Pietersen seems to have made the move ok, and gets my nod only as the younger man. Let’s not kid ourselves, the English tour is an appetiser for bigger things. Robbie Fruean is waiting for us.
- Robert Ebersohn has controlled the midfield for the Cheetahs for some time now without letting his side down against some pretty big opposition. I think it’s time to ease him in to the bigger picture.
- Two to look out for, for the future are Tim Whitehead and Johann Sadie. Both need nurturing though.
12. Frans Steyn (Juan de Jongh)
- In my opimnion, this is one of SA Rugby’s biggest problem areas at present. For me, the choices in the midfield could decide Heyneke Meyer’s fate with the “non-Bulls” supporters. There are no candidates that stick their hands up and scream “I’M YOUR MAN”. If Frans returns, (and even if he doesn’t) to SA, I feel he’s probably the best man for the job given Jean de Villiers injury woes.
- Juan de Jongh has (thus far) had a solid defensive season for the Stormers, but in my mind there is still a lingering doubt regarding his ability to break the opposition line and set up his fellow midfielders for the score.
- In my opinion,the other players in the SA franchises are all limited in their abilities, and frankly could well be shown up in a tight situation. If push came to shove, I’d stick with someone like Wynand Olivier for a squad position who, whilst not perhaps the ideal choice, at least has some experience in the heat of battle at Test level.
11. Lwazi Mvovo (Francois Hougaard)
- I’ve realised in recent days that wingers need speed first and foremeost, and this young Shark has it in excess. It’s time for long term change on the Springbok wings, and I feel that Lwazi Mvovo is the player for the future.
- Francois Hougaard HAS TO BE IN THE BOK STARING 22. Personally I don’t think the Bulls have the mix quite right with him starting at halfback, but he has proven before that he can make a difference on the wing coming off the bench. His vision and ability to change the attacking point of contact in the latter stages of a game make him the ideal and true SUPER SUB. I know the Pretoria boys will think I’m mad, but in my opinion, Houghie’s true worth is off the bench, either as a wing or if required at Scrumhalf.
- Willie le Roux has come through as a try-scoring machine for the Cheetahs this year. Unfortunately he has defensive frailties that may be shown up on the international arena. Possibly not against England, but the Ausmob and Kiwis may well tear him to shreds.
10. Morné Steyn (Patrick Lambie)
- Morné Steyn has proven time and again that (at least at present) he’s the best pivot in South Africa when it comes to taking on the rest of the world. He can play the kicking, and running game equally well when called upon to do so, and given SA Rugby’s current situation is the ONLY choice at Flyhalf at the moment.
- Patrick Lambie’s shown that he has the ability to play No. 10 at international level, I’m just not sure that it’s his best position RIGHT NOW. SA Rugby needs a GENERAL to control the game at the moment, and in my opinion, Lambie isn’t up to that job yet.
- Peter Grant… well what can I say about the Rugby Gypsey? Does he have the footballing ability? Absolutely. Does he have the mental strength to take on the best in the world? I’m not sure. Time will tell. For now, in my opinion, he’s a stop gap option at best.
9. Jano Vermaak (Sarel Pretorius)
- Cat among the pigeons? Jano has (in my opinion) looked sharper than Francois Hougaard whenever he’s got onto the field. I think he’s the best No. 9 in SA at present and deserves a chance against the Poms. If he shines, (which I think he will) keep him for the Castle Rugby Championship.
- Sarel Pretorius off the bench is proving a revelation down in Sydney. If he was in the Cheetahs starting XV, he’d be a shoe-in for the Bokke. It’s a travesty that he was allowed to go to Sydney. SARU should be hanging their heads in shame for allowing our talent to go down under, where if things go as they are now, a player of this calibre could well don the gold jersey of Australia.
- Francois Hougaard. Is he the best No. 9? Should he start? Is he better off the bench? If we can’t decide, what will Heyneke Meyer do? Make your own mind up. For me, he’s best utilisied off the bench.
- Piet van Zyl has been a revelation for me this season. Crisp service with exceptional breaks around the forwards. A talent for the future.
- Dewald Duvenhage has done very little wrong all season. He keeps his side on the front foot, and has a great eye for the overall field. Wouldn’t let the Boks down if picked.
8. Pierre Spies (Ashley Johnson)
- Captaincy seems to agree with young Mr Spies. He seems to be playing better than he has in the last 5 years. Perhaps the shadow of Bakkies and Victor being removed has allowed him to come out of his shell somewhat. Definitely my first choice No. 8.
- Ashley Johnson is indeed a hard and uncompromising player. The fact that he’s decided to join Wasps next year may tell against him, but for me he’ll always be a factor against such a structured side as the English, particularly off the bench.
- Josh Strauss. Flip, I write his name with such…geez, I can’t even find the right word. Such a potential talent. Last year I was sure he was a future Bok Captian, now he seems almost lost in a sea of mediocrity at the Lions. That he has the potential is without question. Whether Heyneke will have the testes to pick him is in question. Maybe a few minutes with a green and gold jersey is what he needs to bring his talent to the fore.
7. Jacques Potgieter (Derick Minnie)
- That straight, shiny mane of black hair is enough to put fear into any half decent back line player. Potgieter has taken the step up BIG TIME. There is no reason why Heyneke Meyer shouldn’t let this hard young man pull the Green and Gold over his head for the first test against the Poms. He certainly won’t let his country down and I’m sure he’ll cement a place in the squad for a long time to come.
- Derick Minnie is one of the few Lions that has carried his Currie Cup form of 2011 into 2012. He may not stand out every week, purely because of the side he’s playing in, but rest assured, he’s all class. The mere fact that John Mitchell keeps on picking him is testament to that. Expect big things from Derick Minnie in years to come. whether with the Lions or not.
- Willem Alberts - If fit, I would include him any time. He’s explosive off the bench, and certainly keeps the opposition thinking. In my opinion, he’s the kind of player the Poms hate to face.
6. Heinrich Brussöw (Siya Kolisi)
- The world’s best openside flanker of recent years (yes, even better than Pocock) gets my nod, despite not being on top form at present. An 80% Brussöw is still the best open side flanker in SA at present in my opinion.
- Since coming into the Stromers side for the injured Schalk Burger, Siya Kolisi has been a revelation. Some will argue that he’s not a true open side flanker, but then neither is Schalk Burger. This youngster is a true all round loose forward for the future.
- Marcell Coetzee has had a solid Super Rugby season thus far, and whilst still perhaps some way off International standard could well be considered for honours at a later stage. I’m sure it’s not helping playing in a disjointed Sharks team though.
5. Juandré Kruger (Andries Bekker)
- Juandré Kruger has had a good year thus far, and coupled with his experience of having played in England should just get the starting berth. The England series could well show Heyneke Meyer and the rest of SA whether he has a long term future in the Green and Gold.
- That Andries Bekker should always be in the SA squad is almost without question. His line out potential will always be there, but for goodness sake, stay out of the back line and concerntrate on your primary tasks.
4. Flip van der Merwe (Eben Etsebeth)
- Stick with the (relatively) tried and tested. Flip shouldn’t let the side down from a Rugby skills point of view. The only concern I have is that there was the start of a disciplinary trend starting previously, and referees remember it. He’ll have to make sure he keeps his nose out of trouble, or he could cost his team points.
- Young Etsebeth has shown in his short Super Rugby carreer that he has the skills to go all the way. Is he the next “enforcer” that SA Rugby likes to have at No. 4? Time will tell, but for me I have no doubt that in a relatively short space of time he’ll grow into the real deal.
3. Jannie du Plessis (Patrick Cilliers)
- This was a tough decision for me. In my opinion, South Africa is woefully short of world class Tighthead Props. I really hope that the inclusion of Pieter de Villiers (the former French international, not Snor) can help groom a really solid No. 3 for the future. My old Rugby schoolmaster (Jack Pilbin) always said that the first person on the team sheet should be the tighthead prop. Unfortunately in SA we don’t have anyone dominant enough to allow that. For the England series I think that Doc Jannie will do ok, but going forward, we really have to develop a better option.
- Young Patrick Cilliers has been a revelation at the Lions this year, and when he was injured, the Rooibontes really struggled at scrum time. Now may be the ideal time to introduce him to a higher level of Rugby. Maybe he can grasp the concept that his primary tasks are scrummaging, lineouts and getting down and dirty in the tight loose. Something that SA’s tight forwards seem, bye and large, to have forgotten in the last 15 – 20 years.
- Werner Kruger and WP Nel both jump out as potential long term assets for the Boks, but both need some degree of grooming, something that I sincerely hope de Villiers can provide.
2. Adriaan Strauss – Captain (Chilliboy Ralepelle)
- Let’s face facts, the Cheetahs Captain is playing the best Rugby of his life. Adriaan Strauss leads his team from the front with guts and determination. His set play standards have no equal in South Africa, and he has the ability to inspire those around him to greater heights, and his play in the loose this season has been beyond reproach. Currently he is the best hooker in South Africa without exception.
- Just as Strauss has picked up his game, so has Chilliboy Ralepelle. His work in the loose has been a revelation to watch this season. Without a doubt, he is going to make Heyneke Meyer’s choices for the squad a difficult one.
- Bismarck du Plessis’ form has slumped somewhat this season, and coupled with a couple of injury niggles has done his Bok aspiriations no good at all. His ability to to act as a 4th loose forward when the chips are down though will allways keep him in contention for a Bok jersey.
- Then we have Mr Tiaan Liebenberg. Hmm. Perhaps right up there on his day. A hard abrasive No. 2 who ALWAYS does the hard yards. I think he may just loose out to Bismarck and Chilliboy in the squad.
1. Steven Kitshoff (Coenie Oosthuizen)
- Again, maybe a bit of controversy, but young Kitshoff has really taken the bit in his mouth and ran. His scrummaging has really helped to forge the Stormers into a true “tight five” team (I’m sure with Mathew Proudfoot’s influence), and his ball carrying has given the “Mountain Goats” another dimension to their game. It’s 50 / 50 between Kishoff and Coenie Oosthuizen, but the young Capetonian gets my nod because of his better discipline throughout the course of a game.
- That Coenie Oosthuizen has great potential is without question. He scrums well (for the most part), runs exceptionallly well with ball in hand for a front row forward, and makes more than his expected quota of tackles. For me though, the big question marks hangs over his discipline. There seems to be the odd rush of blood to the head, and BINGO. In the international arena a team can’t afford it. Punishment is only a swing of a goal kicker’s boot away. Undoubtedly a potential for the future though.
- Beast Mtawarira? CJ van der Linde? Dean Greyling? Enough in the reserve pool to not let us worry too much.
I have (apart from Frans Steyn) not really considered any overseas based players. I’m sure that some may well come into consideration, but in my honest opinion, Heyneke Meyer need only look within the boundaries of the Republic to find the richness of talent needed to carry Springbok Rugby to the next World Cup.
Our Junior SA side will soon do battle for the U20 World Championship, and I’m positive that a good few of the young men involved will end up donning the Green and Gold jersey of the senior side before the next edition of the IRB Rugby World Cup.
I have tried to be impartial and remove any provincialism from my selections, but if I have included any Lions players in a 50/50 call, toughies.
My choices are based purely on what has transpired thus far in the Super Rugby competition, and I think that, even though the three authors here seem to have similar lines of thought (for the most part), Heyneke Meyer may well spring a total curved ball or two on us all.
Just For Kicks:
Springbok Starting side (with 2nd choice players next to it in brackets)
15. Joe Pieterson (Pat Lambie)
- On form this season Pieterson deserves his spot in the starting lineup. Kicking out of hand, place kicking good. Defence solid. Some sublime attacking runs.
- Pat Lambie I feel has the ‘X’ factor when given space at the back. Reads the game well, and another kicking option. Versatile – Can play fly half and at centre.
- Kirchner’s been solid this year, but Joe just nudges him. Taute has huge potential and if Joe was not the form player, would definitely have been there. Also a journeyman, can play in the centre too.
14. Gio Aplon (Akona Ndungane)
- Another one with the ‘X’ factor, hell, even Aplon’s own team mates are left in the dark with his moves sometimes. Punches well above his weight, fast, good hands, fine boot and good on defence, and finds holes in bullet proof vests. Versatile – can play on the wing
- Akona has been solid, fast, and deserves second spot in my opinion.
13. Bryan Habana (JP Pieterson)
- Habana’s move to centre this season has re-ignited his game. Doesn’t have the speed of a wing anymore, but reads the game well, solid on defence, has been getting over the gain line and is still the intercept king. Versatile – can play on the wing.
- JP Pietersen has also done very well since moving to centre, similar to Habs, but Habs just nudges it for now. As with Habs, can play on the wing too
- Robert Ebersohn comes a close third, has had a good season and deserves a spot, but I can only choose two.
12. Franscois Steyn (Juan de Jongh)
- Francios is the obvious choice here at the moment. Big, young, talented and fearless. Has a boot second to none on him, as we all know, and thus can take on the kicking duties when needed. Can play fly half and full back too
- Juan de Jongh at inside centre has played very well this season. Finds the gap, solid, and reads the game well.
11. Bjorn Basson (JJ Engelbrecht)
- Bjorn Basson is the try king, and has explosive pace. Has consistently been a top try scorer, chooses himself in my opinion.
- I would like to see JJ Engelbrecht back on the wing. Strong, big and fast with excellent hands, and can interchange with centre as has been seen at the Bulls.
10. Morné Steyn (Peter Grant)
- Morné’s lucky to sneak in, it’s only Goosen’s injury that has saved him – that, and his boot.
- Going to be an unpopular choice, but with plenty of kicking power available, against an abrasive side like England, I like the ‘Henry Honibal’ type player for this series. I think Grant will give Farrell something to think about. He reads the game well, doesn’t stand back, and will never let you down. With Fransie outside him, the kicking option is there.
- Sias Ebersohn has done nothing wrong, except not get too much game time, and Jantjies needs a proper defensive coach.
9. Francois Hougaard (Piet van Zyl)
- I like a nuggety No.9, and Hougaard’s my man. Strong, talented and reads the game well. He is a scrummie / loosie / wing all rolled into one. Has a fast, crisp service, just needs to work a bit on his kicking.
- Piet van Zyl is a youngster with a crisp service, reads the game well, and would do well to be part of the Bokke set-up looking to the future.
- Super Sareltjie has blown hot and cold this season, I don’t believe playing for an Australian outfit suits his game. He would do well to come home and get back on top of his game, he has the talent. McLeod, Vermaak and Duvenhage have been solid, dependable and a good go to man, and could all have made it.
8. Josh Strauss (Pierre Spies)
- Josh Strauss has been off form this year, but I think that is because of the Lions as a whole at the moment. He has the temperament, the ability, and is solid at the back of the scrum. Like Grant, this guy will never let you down. I believe he will perform well at Bok level, and is an option for captain.
- Spies has always been a great impact player, and can run the opposition ragged in the second half when he comes on. Has had a solid season so far, don’t believe he is captain material, and thus would like to see him coming off the bench.
- Vermeulen is a solid choice too, if not injured. There is no report back on his knee injury, so have left him out. Ashley Johnson also gets a mention. Great impact player on his good days, but just a bit inconsistent, for me, to sneak a place
7. Siya Kolisi (Willem Alberts)
- Siya has been a revelation this season, and I believe Heyneke Meyer needs to blood some new players, and he is the obvious choice to give a chance to. Solid, fast, good elusive runner, excellent in the loose, and has done his fair share of work in the deep. Would partner well with Brussöw to become the loosies of the future.
- Willem is your impact man, when the poms are buggered, this boy is going to steamroller through. Is coming into form in my book.
6. Heinrich Brussöw (Marcell Coetzee)
- Heinrich Brussöw picks himself.
- Marcell Coetzee has had an outstanding season, and has been the one forward to stand out even when the team is losing. Another who will benefit from being in the Springbok set-up
5. Juandré Kruger (Andries Bekker)
- Juandré Kruger has been the form No. 5 this season, and deserves his place above Bekker.
- Andries Bekker has been off form, and is prone to injury, but somehow, I feel we need his height to combat those big locks from England. He is a risk, but I am taking one risk in my picks. He’d better not let me down.
- Who knows about the Matfield saga, but if he is in, he will take Bekker’s place.
4. Eben Etsebeth (Flip van der Merwe)
- Eben Etsebeth has been outstanding this season, and has played his way into the team in my book. The new enforcer.
- Flip van der Merwe, big, tall, strong, and a good impact player. Doesn’t quite have the mongrel aggression that Eben has, and thus is pushed out to second choice.
3. Werner Kruger (Jannie du Plessis)
- Werner Kruger has been the standout from the SA conference this season. Strong, solid and a good scrummager. He deserves his spot over an out of form Jannie.
- Experience brings Jannie du Plessis into the side for me, I know he is off form a bit, but we need some experience in the front row.
2. Adriaan Strauss (Bismarck du Plessis)
- Adriaan Strauss is the form hooker this season, and deserves that starting birth. He is a leader, and an obvious choice for captain.
- Bismarck du Plessis is the impact player off the bench. Sorry old chap, but you still don’t start. Hasn’t had a bad season, although, even by his standards needs to improve, is that extra loosie in the pack, and will also run riot as a run on.
- I’m still not convinced by Chiliboy Ralepelle, is third in line for me. Solid, good scrummager, and won’t let you down, but just something lacking. Is he the future captain? If not then he drops down. I love Tiaan Liebenberg, one of my favourite players, always smiling, and obviously enjoying the game more than most. Brilliant at Super Rugby level, again, just not sure whether the step up will be for him. Prove me wrong.
1. Coenie Oosthuizen (Steven Kitshoff/Dean Greyling)
- Coenie is having the season of his life in my book, solid in the scrum, good technique, fast, good with ball in hand, and solid on defence. Deserves his spot.
- As with the other youngsters I’ve picked, and after all the ribbing Steven Kitshoff received before the season, this lad deserves a chance. Has really worked on his game, and matured into a solid scrummager, and turned the Stormers front row into a force to be reckoned with – at last!!!!
- Dean Greyling is there if Kitshoff is unavailable due to Baby Bok duty. He has had a solid season, scrums well, and I don’t think will let the side down.
- I am not sure about the Beast, played his first game for the Vodacom side last week, and will no doubt be back with the Sharks shortly. Will he be back to his best by he test series? If he is then I’ll adjust my starting player.
I have tried to go for a mixture of experience and youth, form, and perhaps a bit of provincialism has crept in, and for that I do not apologise! The Stormers and Bulls weigh in heavily, but picking the form players helps when you look at the form teams. Apart from Francois Steyn, I have not looked at any overseas players.