Loving the look of the new Bok squad, the only real hiccups Tank Lanning can spot are at loosehead prop for the Boks, and at tighthead prop for the SA A side. Which could point to another pesky experiment!
I really like this new Bok squad selected by coach Allister Coetzee.
And no, it’s not just because Coenie Oosthuizen has departed the scene! Yes it has influenced my thinking, but more on that later …
That it contains a solid base of Lions players speaks to Coetzee’s want to reward form and not just reputation, which I love. South African rugby is crying out for an injection of new skills, new thinking, youth, exuberance and just general enthusiasm – from both the players and us fans. May this be it!
Not one to rock the boat, and given the political tightrope he has been asked to walk, I thought it quite brave of Coetzee to ditch the elder statesman plying their trade overseas. That might have been the safer path, instead he has opted for an exciting infusion of locally based players.
My two favourite post announcement Coetzee quotes are:
“That’s how serious we are at SA Rugby to make sure that we do give our younger players opportunity to come through.”
“This boy (Garth April) has got the ability to do it and I was never going to select an overseas-based 10 to be a third-choice flyhalf.”
Music to my ears … If you are good enough, you are old enough.
Based on that, then, the anomaly is the selection France based uncapped loosehead prop Steven Kitshoff. Especially given that Francois Louw and Duane Vermeulen – both Bok stalwarts – are the only other foreign based players in the squad.
I get that it is about getting him capped so that we do not lose him to another nation. But at expense of the Cheetah’s Charles Marais (my form prop of Super Rugby thus far) or SA A loosehead props Thomas du Toit and Lizo Gqoboka?
Are we not just potentially chasing one of them away? It’s a selection that flies in the face of both of Coetzee’s comments that explain April’s exciting inclusion.
But I digress … Back to Coenie … Who, for the record, has been banned from playing loosehead prop by his surgeon, so can only be considered as a tighthead. Not sure I would be playing tighthead if my doc had banned me from playing loosehead, but that is his call!
Frans Malherbe and Julian Redelinghuys are without doubt the form tighthead props and deserve their Bok spots. Malherbe must start, and Redelinghuys must bench.
It’s the selections of Vincent Koch, Oosthuizen and Marcel van der Merwe as the SA A team tightheads that concern me. All three have struggled in Super Rugby this year. Are we rewarding form or reputation? Or simply picking guys who have national contracts?
This while Lourens Adriaanse (the Sharks are ten times the side with this man fronting the scrum instead of Oosthuizen) and the Cheetah’s Maks van Dyk have thrived. In fact, both the Kings’ Tom Botha and Jacobie Adriaanse have looked better than the three selected.
Would the two games against the English Saxons not have been an ideal time to blood two new tightheads and have a look at them at a higher level? Instead Van Dyk is seemingly heading to Toulouse. What a shame.
Spoiler alert: Given Coetzee’s want to cap Kitshoff, might we see Trevor Nyakane – a splendid loosehead who full deserves his Bok selection – being used on the bench as a tighthead in the place of Redelinghuys? This despite the above mentioned fantastic depth at tighthead. From one failed experiment to another? Please no!
This column first appeared on Sport24, for whom Tank is a weekly columnist.