As it stands, though, the franchises pay the players’ salaries and rightly want their pound of flesh from their highly paid resources.
More on that in my Sport24 column tomorrow though …
Today, a practical look at which of the Bok players being released back to the provinces. How many might do better being wrapped in cotton wool rather than taking on their mates in the Currie Cup?
And it’s actually not that many, given how the season has panned out:
The Bok squad by province:
Sharks: Willem Alberts, Craig Burden, Marcell Coetzee, Jannie du Plessis, Tendai Mtawarira, Patrick Lambie, Lwazi Mvovo
WP: Andries Bekker, Eben Etzebeth, Tiaan Liebenberg, Duane Vermeulen, Jean de Villiers, Juan de Jongh, Bryan Habana
Bulls: Arno Botha, Juandré Kruger, Flip van der Merwe, Francois Hougaard, Zane Kirchner, Morné Steyn
Lions: Pat Cilliers, CJ van der Linde, Elton Jantjies, Lional Mapoe, Jaco Taute
Cheetahs: Coenie Oosthuizen, Adriaan Strauss, Johan Goosen
Currie Cup Log:
Sharks Pld:9 W:6 Pts:30
Golden Lions Pld:9 W:6 Pts:28
WP Pld:9 W:4 Pts:20
Griquas Pld:9 W:4 Pts:20
Free State Pld:9 W:3 Pts:18
Blue Bulls Pld:9 W:4 Pts:18
19:10 Sharks vs Griquas
17:05 Western Province vs Free State
19:10 Golden Lions vs Blue Bulls
The Sharks and Lions are through to the semis, but that top key spot (and a likely final) is up for grabs. The other 4 are fighting not only for a place in the semis, but also to avoid that promotion relegation match with the Kings or Pumas. It is a properly spicy finish to the Currie Cup season, and I cannot wait to see how it pans out. Imagine one of WP or the Bulls falling out of the Currie Cup?
So you can well understand provincial coaches wanting all their players at the ready …
They players that I see as in definite need of a rest before the end of year tour:
Sharks: Willem Alberts, Jannie du Plessis, Tendai Mtawarira.
WP: Andries Bekker, Jean de Villiers, Bryan Habana
Bulls: Zane Kirchner
Apart from Bekker, who is in need of proper game management given his back injury, these guys have played every Test, and must be in need of a week or two of feet up time …
And the players who could probably do with a rest:
WP: Eben Etzebeth
Bulls: Francois Hougaard
Cheetahs: Adriaan Strauss
I suppose it would all depend on what the selection strategy will be for the end of year tour. It would make sense to take a few youngsters and build the depth in the squad, but given Heyneke Meyer’s start to his tenure, I can only see it being full strength. Hence these guys needing some time away from the coal face, but that aint going to happen …