Front Row Grunt

Rugby … with cauliflower ears

Tank’s team to tame the Poms

Tank Lanning

In two weeks time, it will be the Tuesday before the first Test of the year, the first with Heyneke Meyer at the helm, and, we will all know that match 22 chosen be the new coach to take on the Poms in the first of three Tests …

The new coach has said two key things: He will only be announcing his first Bok side after the last round of Super Rugby matches before the break for the Tests, and that he will be treating the two big derbies that weekend – Lions vs Sharks, and Bulls vs Stormers, as final trials.

It’s a unique situation that is far from ideal for the new coach – hell it’s far from ideal for us bloody spectators … And it’s bordering on ludicrous for a seasoned national coach preparing for battle, let alone a complete novice …

Given the scenario, I might be tempted to play a Cheetah laden side in the first Test as they have a bye in the weekend prior to the Test, or perhaps a young side made of players that have not played a lot of Super Rugby. BUT – the new coach is hell bent on winning all three games, AND the Junior World Cup will be taking place in SA at the same time as the Tests, so a lot of the talented youngsters will be in that mix …

So given all of the above, it’s perhaps worth taking a stab at the 22 that could see themselves doing battle on the 9th of June. There are two ways of doing this – selecting a team I think the coach will pick, and selecting a team I would pick … I am going with the latter!

The Bok 22 I would pick for the 1st Test:
 
15 Joe Pietersen (Stormers) – He has been a revelation for the Stormers this year, and the nickname “Klein Percy” should be seen as a huge compliment given how reliable Percy Montgomery became for the Boks.

14 Gio Aplon (Stormers) And the size (and Stormer hater) freaks go mental! But it is not as if the Stormers have lacked in defence this year … And this man is dynamite on attack, and perhaps more importantly, counter attack.  Bjorn Basson a real option as well.

13 Juan de Jongh (Stormers) – Feet and pace. And if you do not have raw SBW or Nonu power, that is what you want from a centre. Robert Ebersohn and Tim Whitehead knocking on the door. Lots of centre talent in SA!

12 Jean de Villiers (Stormers) – Deceptively quick, puts players into gaps, and perhaps most importantly, could marshall defence like Fourie used to do. Would be marshalling more than that though, as he would be my CAPTAIN.

11 Bryan Habana (Stormers) – Habana 2011 should have been dropped, but he wasn’t. Habana 2012 is closing in on what made him an automatic selection for any team in the world. Gutsy, quick, hard worker. Lwazi Mvovo loses out.

10 Morne Steyn (Bulls) – So incredibly reliable with the boot (yet worryingly, has had the odd game off this year), and key to the way Heyneke will play his rugby. Pat Lambie and Peter Grant would not let any Bok side down, but Steyn still the man for the game plan.

9 Francois Hougaard (Bulls) – Right up there with the best in the world. Has no peer in SA. Quick and physical, with a good pass. Cannot wait for him to cement his place in the side.

8 Pierre Spies (Bulls) – Best of an injury free bunch to be honest. But Meyer has to implement a game plan that sees this man running onto the ball at pace, and not roughing it in the tight-loose, because he fails badly at that!

7 Jean Deysel (Sharks) – Raise the alarm! With Juan Smith, Duane Vermeulen and Schalk Burger out the mix, and Willem Alberts seemingly struggling with injury and form, this is a problem position. Siya Kolisi, Marcel Coetzee and CJ Stander all contenders, but Deysel brings height and experience.

6 Heinrich Brüssow (Cheetahs) – The Boks need to play a fetcher, and this man is right up there with McCaw and Pocock, with Hooper set to join the fray. Game changer and the first loose forward I would select in this side.

5 Andries Bekker (Stormers) – I am pretty sure this man is carrying a back injury that is a vertebrae fusion away from making or breaking a career. But at his best, he is the number one lineout man in the country.

4 Eben Etzebeth (Stormers) – This selection might have raised a few eyebrows a few months ago, but now he would be one of my first selections. No brainer as the brawn to replace Bakkies. Incredible debut Super Rugby season.

3 Jannie du Plessis (Sharks) – It’s a problem position in SA, but Du Plessis has always held his own, and not let the side down. WP Nel is getting back to his best, while Werner Kruger would do a job, but Jannie still topping the pile.

2 Bismarck du Plessis (Sharks) – Adriaan Strauss and Chiliboy Ralepelle have been very good, but I think last Saturday sealed the deal. Perhaps the best hooker in the world right now. Very physical, and like an extra loose forward round the park. Has to watch his discipline, and needs to be more consistent with his lineout throwing .

1 Tendai Mtawarira (Sharks) – He looked a little uncomfortable against WP Nel, but the Beast is a proven international who ads a massive amount as a ball carrier. Big part of the Sharks revival. Coenie Oosthuizen unlucky to lose out as has been very good this season.

Bench: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle (Bulls), 17 CJ van der Linde (Lions) – only prop in SA who can genuinely play both sides, 18 Willem Alberts (Sharks), 19 Siya Kolisi (Stormers), 20 Charl McLeod (Sharks), 21 Patrick Lambie (Sharks), 22 Robert Ebersohn (Cheetahs)

NB – The above team is the team I would pick, and not the team I think the coach will pick. I have also not selected any players playing overseas, as that is the policy I would adopt. BUT – Take a stab at picking the team you think the Heyneke Meyer will pick in the ENERGADE Bok Barometer, and stand a chance of winning a trip to see the Boks play in Argentina in 2013!

Etzebeth - gym's are scared of him!

Super Rugby fixtures the week before the tests:
 
Fri 01 Jun 2012
09:35 Crusaders vs Highlanders
11:40 Rebels vs Brumbies

Sat 02 Jun 2012
09:35 Blues vs Chiefs
11:40 Waratahs vs Hurricanes
17:05 Lions vs Sharks
19:10 Bulls vs Stormers

Bye: Cheetahs

Bok Tests vs England:

09 Jun – 17:00 SA vs England (Durban)
16 Jun – 17:00 SA vs England (JHB)
23 Jun – 17:00 SA vs England (PE)

Super Rugby fixtures the week after the tests:

Fri 29 Jun
09:35 Highlanders vs Chiefs
11:40 Rebels vs Reds

30 Jun 2012
09:35 Crusaders vs Hurricanes
11:40 Force vs Brumbies
17:05 Stormers vs Lions
19:10 Bulls vs Cheetahs

Bye: Sharks

Author: Tank

Ex WP prop with a fair amount of experience in all things media ...

22 Comments

  1. Glad to see the Sharks also have a “bye” on the 2nd June…. :)

  2. Fail to understand how you would pick a back line that hasn’t scored many tries in super 15 and then expect them to do it in test rugby. Provincialism at its best and Pierre Spies at 8,when a game gets tight he goes A.W.O.L

    • Perhaps, like Allister Coetzee, Meyer will be looking to not lose Tests, rather than going out to win them. Have not seen Stormers lose too many this year. Tests more about defence than attack these days – sadly. Who would you pick at 8?

  3. Good team. What would your policy be on FSteyn as he is coming back? I would play him at 12 and JdV at 13.
    Then I would play Lambie at 15 but understand you not wanting to pick players out of poss. But with Goosen in the mix Lambie’s long term future is at 15
    Will also want to wait on Alberts may still improve form?
    Lastly what about Pat Cilleirs for 17?
    CJ has done nothing good for 2 years now.

    • Agree Generaal. CJ will only be picked because of his utility. With the new law of a extra prop on the bench, he will never be picked again.

      I would play Frans at 13 rather than 12. JdV is the best 12 in the world.

    • I think I am the only person on earth who is not a Frans Steyn desciple, but if he does return, and after playing a game or two to prove his fitness, yes, I would be temted to play him at 12, and then either shift Jean, or drop him.

      Massive believer in Lambie, and saw him first as a fullback. Wish the Sharks played him there, as your point re Goosen is valid. A definite option at 15 now though, and would not be upset to see him selected.

      CJ has been hopeless. Good benchman though. I hear Meyer might even pick Cilliers as starting tighthead, though, so do not be surprised to see him in the mix. But I am yet to be convinced …

  4. I would do the following:
    1. Coenie
    2. Bismarck
    3. Jannie
    4. Etzebeth
    5. Bekker
    6. Brussouw
    7. Kolisi (or Marchel Coetzee)
    8. Josh Strauss (But coach will probably settle with tried and tested Spies)
    9. Hougie
    10. Lambie (Again, Morne Steyn would probably get the nod)
    11. Habana
    12. Jean de Villiers
    13. Tough one, lots of talent. De Jongh my choice, but maybe coach will go with Olivier, he has always liked him. Ugh!
    14. Aplon (You do not need to be big if you are not caught)
    15. Frans Steyn (But if only local, Joe Pieterson)

    I recon that Meyer will go tried and tested, he does not have time to mold a brand new team in 1 week.

    • Fairly certain Strauss is no international just yet, but would be happy with both of your picks for 7. As said, it’s a problem area. Still think Beast offers more than Coenie as is more reliable come scrum time … But has been playing well!

  5. Won’t you have JP Peterson in the mix?

    • He has not let the side down, but feel that the experiment at centre might have dragged him back a bit. Certainly would understand his selection though. Aplon adds plenty on the counter attack though

  6. My team for what it’s worth …

    15. Lambie 14. Mvovo 13. Ebersohn 12. F. Steyn 11. Habana 10. M Steyn 9. Hougard 8. Spies (C) 7. Marcel Coetzee 6. Brussow 5. Bekker 4. Etzebeth 3. Du Plessis 2. Bizzie 1. Beast

    16. Strauss 17. Coenie 18. Juandre Kruger 19. Alberts 20. Mcleod 21. Joe Pietersen 22. De Villiers

    - Spies as Captain. All players nationally seem to have loads of respect for him and he has lead the Bulls well.
    - Coenie can also play both sides can he not? Though I will obviously acknowledge you are the one that knows front row ;)
    - I don’t like the idea of such a dominant stormers back-line so I have mixed it up to what I think is a good combination of great defence and attack. Mvovo is on fire and HAS TO be in. I have obviously gone with overseas players though I know you are not a F Steyn fan. For me Ebersohn is the business and that is not just the Cheetahs fan and old Grey boy in me talking.
    - I suspect Chiliboy will get the nod but I think Strauss is playing much better. Bizzie ran over him once over the weekend but they had a great tussle and lots of tit-for-tat.

    • Lots of sense in that meneer. Quite cool that is about who to leave out rather than select – lots of talent. Either of Mvovo or Aplon could rightly feel aggreived at being left out. Also an Ebersohn fan, and would not mind seeing him play. De Villiers bring continuity, experience and leadership though. Coenie was tried at tighthead by Os in the Currie Cup last year and it failed badly. Pity he misses out, but Beast top notch!

  7. A very impressive team. And one that iw ould pick myself. Might change Mvovo for Habana but that is just about it. And strauss on the bench for Ralepelle.

  8. This is what my team would look like, only 2 Essential players outside of Super Rugby, my bench has a bit more experience to save the day if things go wrong.

    15 Pat Lambie – He is a much better fullback than flyhalf and has the X-Factor from the back that Joe lacks.
    14 Bjorn Basson – For the gameplan the Boks WILL imlpement, no one comes close to Bjorn in the air in SA at the moment.
    13 Juan de Jongh – He deserves a regular spot in the run on side for the Boks.
    12 Frans Steyn – the boy has to be in the team somewhere and i like the look of him at inside center, also in for his big penalties
    11 Lwazi Mvovo – this man has size, speed and the skills to make a brilliant winger, and his step doesnt end with him spread eagle on the floor
    10 Morne Steyn – no brainer for your kicking duties, he’s all you will need against the Poms
    9 Francois Hougaard – no other choice
    8 Pierre Spies – Unfortunately no other choice
    7 CJ Stander – Inbetween 2 experienced guys like Spies and Brussouw i would give a this youngster a go, very very impressive in his debut, Kolisi a close second for me
    6 Heinrich Brüssow – im not too fond of the whole fetcher thing (no my name is not Jake) but with our limited stock we need a settled player there.
    5 Andries Bekker – King of the air right now
    4 Eben Etzebeth – No one comes close to this kid right now, lets hope he doesnt delevop his headbutt
    3 Jannie du Plessis –
    2 Bismarck du Plessis –
    1 Tendai Mtawarira – for continuity in a short turn around time against a good scrumming nation 1,2 and 3 will be SOS, but Chilli is making a good case for a starting spot.

    Bench:
    16 Chiliboy Ralepelle,
    17 CJ van der Linde,
    18 Willem Alberts,
    19 Siya Kolisi,
    20 Fourie Du Preez,
    21 Gio Aplon,
    22 Jean De Villiers

  9. My 2 cents worth.
    15. Rather stick with continuity and put Lambie in there. Not only is he the incumbent but his versatility and ability to play No 10. will be a factor to consider?
    14. Actually think Aplon is a great choice. I rate him highly. He is as tenacious as they come.
    13. With Aplon on the wing against what will be a big English backline I would probably put JP Pieterson in there. With JDV he will make a solid defensive line and add attacking flair to the staid Stormers backline ;-)
    11. Habana….mmmm purely on experience. Mvovo scores more tries but……….
    Now #5. Here we disagree totally. Imho Bekker is not a test Lock. Especially against an England side that will use the tight phases as an attacking weapon. With a tight, forwards based game on the cards why would you choose a lock that spends most of the game in the backline? For the life of me I cannot understand the appeal of this player, yes he is tall, that’s about it. He is always injured, always nowhere to be found in the ruck and maul and with Spies failing badly at “roughing it in the tight-loose” as you yourself put it, why choose another player that does exactly that, effectively leaving 6 men to hold back a big England pack rampaging up the field. No Tank, please take off your Stormers hard-hat, no doubt filled with neat Klipdrift and re-think this position.
    3. As a life-long Sharks supporter I’m still unbiased enough to admit that personally, I would think long and hard about putting Jannie into any team I picked. I don’t think he cuts the mustard anymore but agree with your assessment on the position.
    Other than that “expensive” 2 cents worth, great team haha

    • Seems I am swimming upstream re Lambie at fullback, but as said up front, I would be very happy to see him play ahead of Pietersen. The man is real class. Just wish the Sharks had played him there on the odd occassion … Would never play JP at centre for the Boks. Wing perhaps, but then ahead of Aplon. Bekker one of the best in the world. Playing injured and that is a concern. But fit, a lineout kingpin much needed at this level. We will have to agree to disagree on that one

      • Oh good grief on the Bekker issue. I am now determined to prove my point and will watch him exclusively in the next Stormers game. He won’t be hard to find, he will be the tall guy on the wing hahaha. I’m going to stopwatch him, time in the ruck and time in the backline. Mmmm I wonder if Verusco even do stats like that. I’ll report my findings ok?

  10. Too many Stormers backline players who, quite frankly, cannot buy a four try bonus point. My team though:
    15 Taute
    14 Aplon
    13 De Villiers (c)
    12 Steyn
    11 Habana
    10 Lambie
    9 Hougaard
    8 Spies
    7 Deysel
    6 Brussouw
    5 Bekker
    4 Etzebeth
    3 Cilliers
    2 Du Plessis
    1 Matariwa
    16 A Strauss
    17 Oosthuizen
    18 J Strauss
    19 S Kolisi
    20 R Pienaar
    21 M Steyn
    22 R Eberson

  11. How about francois louw @ 6, a much more complete player than brussouw, marcel coetzee @ 7! Great player. I would pick ebersohn above de jong, Much better decision making! Joe peterson is the best fullback in SA, big boot, dangerous counter attack and solid under the high ball!

  12. I disagree with some of your selections. How could you pick Pietersen at 15 ahead of Taute and Lambie? Where is Josh Strauss? Everyone would automatically include Schalk Burger yet Josh is not considered? They play exactly the same type of game with Josh in my opinon the better of the 2. Not sure I would put Habana ahead of Mvovo either…
    My 2c worth…