I thought last week at Newlands was one big pile of dros, and one cannot blame the Capies for not turning out. It might be all PC to welcome the Argies to the Four Nations, but they were without doubt more Pampas XV than Los Pumas. And the Boks, while not playing particularly badly, were rather staid, and could not raise their game to put away what was an average side. In fact, not getting the bonus point probably means that they now have no chance of winning the tournament … One cannot see the All Blacks missing out on that freebie.
Sure the Argies will improve, and it is quite nice to see a few new faces in the SANZAR mix, but try telling that to the WPRU marketing team who were trying to sell tickets to the game! But the Boks should have seen it as an opportunity to really express themselves and unleash a few more tries for the 40 odd thousand that did turn up. One has to wonder if the Boks actually have that gear available to them at the moment, though? A few tweaks to the personnel as they evolve toward that state perhaps?
This time next year, you, me, and four of your closest mates will be in Argentina to support the Boks – thanks to Energade … That is if you predict the exact Bok side Heyneke Meyer will pick later this afternoon! Ice cold beer, massive steaks, good looking babes, and Bok rugby … Better than a poke in the eye with a red hot poker I would say … Details below …
To aid the cause in this relatively easy week (as there are only 26 guys to choose from in Argentina), I will have my usual stab at the side I think he will pick, together with the side I would pick …
First up, the 26-man Springbok squad to Argentina:
Forwards (15): Willem Alberts, Andries Bekker, Craig Burden, Pat Cilliers, Marcell Coetzee, Keegan Daniel, Jannie du Plessis, Eben Etzebeth, Dean Greyling, Juandré Kruger, Tiaan Liebenberg, Tendai Mtawarira, Jacques Potgieter, Adriaan Strauss, Flip van der Merwe.
Backs (11): Jean de Villiers (captain), JJ Engelbrecht, Bryan Habana, Francois Hougaard, Zane Kirchner, Patrick Lambie, Lwazi Mvovo, Ruan Pienaar, Frans Steyn, Morné Steyn, Jano Vermaak.
The 22 I think Heyneke Meyer will pick to play Argentina on Saturday:
15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Bryan Habana, 13 Jean de Villiers (c), 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Keegan Daniel, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Beast Mtawarira.
Bench: 16 Tiaan Liebenberg, 17 Pat Cilliers, 18 Flip van der Merwe, 19 Jacques Potgieter, 20 Ruan Pienaar, 21 Patrick Lambie, 22 JJ Engelbrecht
And this is the side I would select from the squad of 26:
15 Patrick Lambie, 14 Bryan Habana, 13 Jean de Villiers, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Keegan Daniel, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Beast Mtawarira.
Bench: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Pat Cilliers, 18 Flip van der Merwe, 19 Jacques Potgieter, 20 Francois Hougaard, 21 JJ Engelbrecht, 22 Zane Kirchner
Meyer is loyal, and a fan of continuity, so I do not see him making more than just the single change forced on him by the injury to Bismarck du Plessis. He would have loved Morne Steyn’s return to form with the boot, and would probably be relatively happy with just the win, being new in the position and not having crowd entertainment high on his list of priorities right now. One can only hope that, together with his high performance manager, Rassie Erasmus (who, with all the Blue Bull coaches in Meyer’s mix, now seems quite removed from the Bok team and more involved in the lessor national sides), that entertainment does eventually become a priority!
So the tweaks I would make are at scrumhalf and fullback. Francois Hougaard is rugbytalent.com, but he continues to take a step or two before passing and as a result of his slightly sluggish service, I do not think the backline is getting away smartly enough. This changes when Ruan Pienaar gets on the park. Seems an obvious and simple enough swap …
What to do with Hougaard is not as simple. A move back to wing, where he has more space to showcase his attacking talent and skill, is an obvious option, but Lwazi Mvovo showed potential at Newlands and deserves another go. As a seriously powerful option on the bench that would add the much needed impact you want from your splinter gatherers, that is where I would have the Bulls man this week.
Zane Kirchner did not do a whole lot wrong, and he probably never will, but is he the man you want sparking your counter attack from the back? Patrick Lambie is the future of Springbok rugby, and should be well and truly over the injury he picked up in Super Rugby. We should be playing him now. He is the complete package.
The Bok scrum was very solid against the once vaunted Bajada, and did not suffer when Pat Cilliers came on. I still have a few doubts with regards to the sole Lions player in the squad, but they are now certainly lessoned. Next to him on the bench is where I would differ with Meyer. Craig Burden is the form hooker at the moment, and I would love to see him get a go in Green and Gold, but tricky to select a guy who came in after Tiaan Liebenberg, who, to be honest, will not let a Bok side down.
Keegan Daniel was solid if unspectacular at 8, but definitely deserves an extended run in the jersey. It’s only fair given the time his predecessor was given! With Bismarck out, though, all of Adriaan Strauss, Marcell Coetzee and Daniel are going to have to up their game when it comes to ball poaches and slowing down the opposition ball. Bismarck is also a powerful ball runner, and I am sure Meyer will be tempted to go with Potgieter at 7 and Alberts at 8 to combat that loss, but for me the jury is still out on Potgieter …
The Argentina side to play the Boks this weekend in Mendoza:
15 Martin Rodriguez, 14 Gonzalo Camacho, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Santiago Fernandez, 11 Horacio Agulla; 10 Juan Martin Hernandez, 9 Nicolas Vergallo, 8 Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe (c), 7 Alvaro Galindo, 6 Julio Farias Cabello, 5 Patricio Albacete, 4 Manuel Carizza, 3 Juan Figallo, 2 Eusebio Guinazu, 1 Rodrigo Roncero
Bench: 16 Bruno Postiglioni, 17 Marcos Ayerza, 18 Juan Pablo Orlandi, 19 Tomas Leonardi, 20 Leonardo Senatore, 21 Martin Landajo, 22 Lucas Amorosino
How To WIN the trip to watch the Boks play in Argentina next year …
Head to the Energade Bok Barometer – http://www.supersport.com/rugby/bokbarometer
Select your Springbok XV by clicking on the jersey in each position, and picking a player from those provided in the drop down … Hit the Save button once your team is finalised, and you are in the draw!
You can update your team as often as you like for the duration of the 2012 Springbok season. The entries for each game will be locked before the announcement of the Springbok team each week. You are then able to select your team for the next match.
All those with the exact Springbok team – including jersey numbers – that takes to the field for each Bok game will go into a draw and the winners will be announced every Monday after a Springbok match.
Energade is the sponsor. Each match winner will receive R5 000 and a personalised Springbok jersey signed by their favourite Springbok. The grand prize will see the winner jet off to watch the Boks play their Rugby Championship match in Argentina in 2013