Bok coach Heyneke Meyer had hinted during the week that Morne Steyn needed a break from the game and that Johan Goosen would get a run against the Aussies, and with the young Cheetah pivot having been running at flyhalf during training, it was not that surprising to see him named in the Bok side to take on the Aussies on Saturday.
Not surprising, but still a pretty bold (for the conservative Meyer that is) and good call. Be it through public pressure or be it through coming to the realisation that Morne Steyn is not the man right now, it is great to see this prodigious talent getting a start at the highest level.
What was surprising though, was the elevation of Jaco Taute ahead of Juan de Jongh to be bracketed with Frans Steyn to start at centre. Steyn has a dodgy ankle and will need to pass a fitness test today. Fail, and Taute comes from nowhere to start! I really did think Meyer would keep the other Steyn at flyhalf with De Jongh coming in at centre …
Tough on De Jongh, who seems not to have the coach’s faith, but another exciting step …
Many people (me at the front of the queue) have been calling for Boks to play a more possession based game and take the ball closer to the advantage line, and Goosen is the man for that. I would have gone one step further and selected Pat Lambie at fullback, but Meyer is by nature a conservative fellow and likes Kirchner at the back. As said before, I do not think he cuts it at the highest level, but the coach clearly does. There has been talk of political pressure keeping him in the side, but with Taute leap frogging De Jongh, that actually cannot be the case. Meyer just rates Kirchner!
Jean de Villiers is certainly not playing his best rugby, falling off tackles, and losing the ball in the tackle, but it would take a brave, brave coach to change his skipper now. And I would agree.
I also think we might see the best of every player if the Boks were indeed to move to a more ball in hand game plan that sees people running at space, rather than other people, and taking the first point of contact a little wider.
Andries Bekker needs proper game management given his back issues, but he has had a week off and looked better when on against the All Blacks. He needs to do a little more donkey work, but probably deserves a start, as does Eben Etzebeth, who is back from suspension. Not that Flip van der Merwe had a bad game when starting though – and that is good news for the Boks.
Meyer likes Coenie Oosthuizen, who is a really exciting ball carrier, and is working hard on being able play both sides of the scrum. But he is just back from a pretty serious neck injury though (only one game for the Cheetahs), so I would have gone with the tried and tested CJ van der Linde on the bench. He can definitely play both sides, and his form in the Currie Cup has been good. We all saw what an “Out there” prop selection on the bench did last time!
Keeping Morne Steyn in the squad, but not selecting him is a good move as it allows time away from the game. I would have him on a beach somewhere playing boule, though. I am yet to be convinced re Jantjies ability at Super Rugby level, let alone international, but he is in the squad and is in top Currie Cup form, so let’s have a look at him. If playing Goosen, one might as well go the whole hog. Having Steyn as backup is like being half pregnant …
I called for a new look Bok side to rekindle my (and many others based on comments and discussions) waning enthusiasm … And got it. Now the Boks just need to tweak that game plan to allow these guys to play some rugby. Will we see that on Saturday? I think we might … Well, at least a step toward that!
The Springbok side named to take on Australia in Pretoria on Saturday:
15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Bryan Habana, 13 Jean de Villiers (c), 12 Frans Steyn/Jaco Taute, 11 Francois Hougaard, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Beast Mtawarira.
Bench: 16 Tiaan Liebenberg, 17 Coenie Oosthuizen, 18 Flip van der Merwe, 19 Marcell Coetzee, 20 Elton Jantjies, 21 Jaco Taute/Juan de Jongh, 22 Patrick Lambie
The side I would have selected:
15 Patrick Lambie, 14 Bryan Habana, 13 Jean de Villiers, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Francois Hougaard, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Beast Mtawarira.
Bench: 16 Tiaan Liebenberg, 17 CJ van der Linde, 18 Flip van der Merwe, 19 Marcell Coetzee, 20 Elton Jantjies, 21 Juan de Jongh, 22 Jaco Taute
The current 30 man Springbok squad:
Forwards (17): Willem Alberts, Andries Bekker, Craig Burden, Pat Cilliers, Marcell Coetzee, Jannie du Plessis, Eben Etzebeth, Juandré Kruger, Tiaan Liebenberg, Francois Louw, Tendai Mtawarira, Coenie Oosthuizen, Jacques Potgieter, Adriaan Strauss, CJ van der Linde, Flip van der Merwe, Duane Vermeulen
Backs (13): Jean de Villiers (captain), Juan de Jongh, Johan Goosen, Bryan Habana, Francois Hougaard, Elton Jantjies, Zane Kirchner, Patrick Lambie, Lwazi Mvovo, Ruan Pienaar, Frans Steyn, Morné Steyn, Jaco Taute.