Heyneke you little beauty

A superbly balanced front row, sticking with Pollard, benching Etzebeth and picking Jean at 12 has Tank Lanning gushing about the latest Bok selection from Heyneke Meyer in his Sport24 column.

Heyneke Meyer, you little beauty! The team announced on Wednesday to take on Argentina at Loftus on Saturday is an absolute cracker!

And no, it is not only the departure of poor old Coenie Oosthuizen as the backup tighthead prop that excites me. There are plenty of clever selections, starting with keeping Handre Pollard at flyhalf, benching Eben Etzebeth rather than starting him, and keeping returning skipper Jean de Villiers at 12, but yes, those 6 men making up the front row for Saturday look so much more balanced.

Gone are Oosthuizen, who was being asked to play in a position he cannot do justice to at Super Rugby level, and Gurthro Steenkamp, a journeyman plying his trade overseas. In come Trevor Nyakane as backup to Beast, and Frans Malherbe as backup to Jannie. No convoluted reasoning, just a simple and clear path for 2 young specialist props making their way in international rugby. It seems so simple and obvious.

Pollard is the future of South African rugby – of that I have no doubt. This is a brave call from Meyer, and one that I hope speaks to the kind of game the Boks hope to one day play more regularly – one that relies less on chasing box kicks, and more on using the width of the field with ball in hand.

Scrumhalf was always going to be a tricky selection given the non-availability of Fourie du Preez, and one cannot really fault sticking with next in line Ruan Pienaar, despite his inability to carry his form in Ireland into the Bok environment. There is a school of thought that this would have been an ideal opportunity (against the Pumas rather than the All Blacks or Aussies) to blood young Cobus Reinach, and that does make sense. But that would have been a massive call from a coach already pushing his naturally conservative envelope!

It must have been really tempting end the Juan Smith Cinderella story with a trip to the ball, but he has just arrived in SA and not been part of the Bok mix for a while. Willem Alberts does need a good game though, and perhaps the pressure from Smith will ignite the bone collector’s fuse. With Bakkies Botha, Lood de Jaager and Etzebeth in the engine room, Meyer could well look at a more rangy 7 that links instead of bashes, a role for which Smith is purpose built.

But with those 4 chunks of Baobab in the pack, together with Bismarck du Plessis and Duane Vermeulen, who needs rangy link men? Expect the blunt force trauma approach to continue!

In closing the, a quick comment on Jurie Roux’s reappointment as CEO of SARU, which happened on Wednesday via a unanimous vote from all 14 member unions that make up the SARU General Council. The very same General Council that forced Roux to demand a 6th team in Super Rugby because they could not agree on any other way to accommodate the Kings. The point being that they do not often all agree with each other.

Yet they were unanimous on this. And this despite allegations of fraud relating to activities at Stellenbosch University during the time of Roux’s employment there. In fact, SARU President Oregan Hoskins went as far as to renege on a confidentiality agreement with Maties in order to show Roux a forensic report which implicated him in the alleged fraud. This to allow his CEO to explain the allegations, and facilitate an informed discussion at SARU’s executive committee.

And based on that discussion, SARU were happy to reappoint Roux, who has been a quite outstanding CEO of SARU since his appointment in 2000.

I have spoken at length to Roux about what went on at Maties while he was running the show, and as a solid human being who seeks out only what is best for South African rugby (within some particularly outrageous mandates from his General Council), I am choosing to believe his version of events.

Allegations abound in the press, yet still there is no formal charge against Roux. I am finding the man innocent until someone can prove otherwise.

The Bok team for Saturday: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Damian de Allende, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira

Bench: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Frans Malherbe, 19 Eben Etzebeth, 20 Marcell Coetzee, 21 Francois Hougaard, 22 Morne Steyn, 23 Jan Serfontein


  1. Hi Tank
    Could you please try and explain why Malherba who is not match fit has leap frogged Celliers as HM first choice as back up to Jannie
    Tx Craig

    1. Cilliers hacking at Currie Cup level Craig. Malherbe better. Has leapfrogged Van der Merwe, which is difficult to explain, but he was ahead of him before he got injured. Reckon Julian Rdelinghuys deserves a shot …

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