The Springbok side named to take on New Zealand in Dunedin on Saturday:
15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Bryan Habana, 13 Jean de Villiers (c), 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Francois Hougaard, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Juandre Kruger, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Beast Mtawarira.
Bench: 16 Tiaan Liebenberg, 17 Dean Greyling, 18 Andries Bekker, 19 Marcell Coetzee, 20 Johan Goosen, 21 Juan de Jongh, 22 Patrick Lambie
So after a draw against England at home, a draw against Argentina in Mendoza, and a loss to the Aussies in Perth, the best Heyneke Meyer can come up with is the single unforced change of Francois Louw for Marcell Coetzee. Now do not get me wrong, Louw is a good player, and deserves his call up. But Coetzee has hardly been the reason for the Bok demise! This while Morne Steyn and Zane Kirchner get yet another go …
Thankfully, Meyer seems to be coming round to the role of a fetcher in international rugby, but a fetcher is best utilized with a backline willing take the initial point of contact a little wider, yet still maintain possession, and get the big guys like Alberts, Flip and Duane Vermeulen running into space while at full tilt. They have been wasted (and thus crticised) in a game plan that sees them running at organized defences from pop passes close to the initial first phase.
I suppose one can applaud the loyalty, but hells bells, this is taking it to the extreme. And do not get me wrong, I do not see Johan Goosen and Pat Lambie as the immediate saviours, but I do see them being part of a Bok game plan embracing the future, where losses and draws would be easier to stomach as the Boks embarked on a journey that had some potential … At the moment, Meyer seems to be harping on the past, utilizing a game plan that does not speak to the current talent.
And after all the fuss about Bakkies Botha being “Put on standby” given the Eben Etzebeth suspension, common sense prevails. There is an obvious question mark with regard to the penalties he gives away and yellow cards he cops, but Flip van der Merwe is a robust international class lock who is next on the pecking order. He deserves a start. A call to Botha would have been a slap in the face to Flip, and all those players waiting in the wings, and would have smacked of panic.
Also much fuss made of Frans Malherbe being sent over as cover for tighthead (yours truly included), but as predicted, Jannie du Plessis has been selected despite struggling with a hamstring niggle. He will be given until Friday to fully shake off his injury, but if he fails to recover in time, Pat Cilliers will start in the No 3-shirt. So Malherbe only there if things really had to go pear shaped. That said, if your starting tighthead is going to be carrying some sort of injury, why put a loose head on the bench?
Hope you got your team in on time … Courtesy of Energade, I am hosting the winners of the Energade Bok Barometer competition on a trip to see the Boks play in Argentina next year. The winners being the guys or girls who correctly predict the Bok side that Heyneke Meyer picks each week this year …
The 28-man Springbok squad in New Zealand:
Forwards (16): Willem Alberts, Andries Bekker, Craig Burden, Pat Cilliers, Marcell Coetzee, Jannie du Plessis, Dean Greyling, Juandré Kruger, Tiaan Liebenberg, Francois Louw, Frans Malherbe, Tendai Mtawarira, Jacques Potgieter, Adriaan Strauss, Flip van der Merwe, Duane Vermeulen
Backs (12): Jean de Villiers (captain), Juan de Jongh, Johan Goosen, Bryan Habana, Francois Hougaard, Zane Kirchner, Patrick Lambie, Lwazi Mvovo, Ruan Pienaar, Frans Steyn, Morné Steyn, Jano Vermaak.