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Bok selector for a day...

2012-04-10 10:45

Saturday’s performance by the Bulls was the most emphatic statement of why the franchise has managed to win the Super Rugby title on three different occasions in recent years, the only South African franchise to do so. It also explains why Heyneke Meyer is trying very hard to get the core of the Blue Bulls management team to be part of his Springbok management team. 

It probably makes sense in that it was he who was the architect behind the systems that have resulted in the Bulls’ unprecedented success at Super Rugby level. It is clear that Meyer believes that the same success can be replicated at national level. His biggest enemy though; is time.

After having watched the implosion of the Sharks against the Hurricanes and the Stormers notching up another winning performance and yes, the Cheetahs systematically dismantling the Lions, I found myself playing selector yet again. I mean, the English will be here in a few months and it is about time that we start speculating about who should play in Meyer’s first Test against the Poms.

As it stands, most of the positions in the Springbok run-on team are shoo-ins, but there are some positions where the former Bulls mentor is sure to come up with a few surprises. 

Take for instance the front row, where we all agree that Bismarck du Plessis is South Africa’s best hooker and that he should start every single Test for the Springboks.
 
Notwithstanding this, I have noticed that quite a number of rugby journalists have started to tout Chiliboy Ralepelle as South Africa’s first-choice hooker. Now don’t get me wrong, Chiliboy has been playing excellent rugby in the Super Rugby competition this year, but better than Bismarck? I don’t think so! The Springboks can’t afford to start any of the English Tests without Bismarck Du Plessis's physical presence. He is a must.
 
That having been said, it seems as if his brother, Jannie, has returned to his old ways (2010) when he was more a liability than an asset for the Sharks. The "Beast" is still in recuperation and it will take a miracle for him to be battle-ready by June 9.

It certainly looks like we’re going to see a few surprises in the Springbok front row come that opening Test.

Another area of worry is the midfield combinations. I believe we can accept that barring injury, Francois Hougaard and Morne Steyn will be the halfback pairing while Francois Steyn (if he returns in time) will be at inside centre. The outside centre birth should go to Juan de Jongh since he is the incumbent. At this stage it looks as if JP Pietersen has taken himself out of the equation by agreeing to a move to outside centre for the Sharks. While he has been impressive out of broken play, he still has to prove himself as an outside centre "proper". For him to be effective he needs an inside centre that is able to create enough space for a him to run strong and straight. Perhaps he will still be able to impress Meyer if Francois Steyn decides to join the Sharks.
 
Another player that must have attracted the attention of Meyer is Robert Ebersohn. He has finally matured and has displayed brilliant skills and anticipation in both defence and attack for the Cheetahs thus far this year. He is a certain contender for the outside centre position.

On the wings, Bryan Habana and Lwazi Mvovo should be shoo-ins. Both have been excellent this year and will only get better over the next few weeks. Which leaves the fullback position - another headache for Meyer? While Gio Aplon is my favourite I have to say that Joe Petersen has returned from his overseas jaunt a new player. He has been so impressive thus far and if he continues like that he should be an easy selection for Meyer.

Andries Bekker needs a lock mate and at this stage it looks like an all Stormers affair with the young Eben Etzebeth and Rynardt Elstadt the strongest contenders. I am not a big fan of Flip van der Merwe who never seems to be able to stay on his feet, whether he is carrying the ball or cleaning out at the rucks. Pierre Spies, Willem Alberts and Heinrich Brüssow are bound to cover the back and sides of the scrum.

The South African franchises are showing great form in Super Rugby and I believe that Meyer won’t have a problem in selecting a very competitive squad for his first Test series in charge of the Springboks. It is understandable that he would want to select a winning squad, but I believe it will still be an insult to the in-form Super Rugby players if the Springbok coach opts for overseas-based players instead.

Gary Boshoff is a former SARU player and current Afrikaans rugby commentator on SuperSport.

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Comments
  • Christiaan - 2012-04-10 11:21

    But the question after reading this article is, who will be the bok captain without Du Preez, Burger or De Villiers in the starting lineup?

      hannes.handogg - 2012-04-10 12:02

      Good Question. Maybe Bismarck? Or n youngster like Lambie maybe that can carry the torch for a few years. If Chiliboy plays, he's got a good chance of getting the captaincy. However not one of these guys feel like they're in the same league as a John Smit or a Victor Matfield. We'll have to wait and see I suppose?

      Gerald - 2012-04-10 12:16

      I am not a Stormers supporter, but what about Andries Bekker? He has captained the Stormers before if I remember correctly.

      hannes.handogg - 2012-04-10 13:12

      @Gerald. Also a pretty good option, but still no Smit or Matfield. Damn. Not being able to readily come up with a Springbok captain makes me somewhat nervous. Goodluck Mr. Meyer. I do not envy you.

      Gerald - 2012-04-10 15:55

      @hannes.handogg- I quite agree with you. A captain like Smit only certainly doesn't come along very often. I will probably get castigated for saying this, but even Matfield wasn't in Smit's class as captain of the Bok team so I wouldn't mention them in the same breath

      hannes.handogg - 2012-04-11 08:11

      @Gerard: ha ha! No worries mate! You won't be castigated my ME. I agree. But saying that, the few options for captain that we've mention so far, doesn't even appear in the same class as Matfield, let alone Smit. So it'll be very interesting to see what Meyer does. So far, I'm hoping Schalk is fit to play. He'll lead by example and has many years of experience, and thus, fairly good relationships with refs and players from various SA provinces etc. But sadly, I still don't think we'll find a captain in Smit's league for many years to come.

      stefan.vanderspuy - 2012-04-11 13:37

      Spies is highly overrrated. de Villiers should be in, and also the captain.

  • moregareth - 2012-04-10 11:39

    Gary, not even an honourable mention for Johan Goosen?

      Rye - 2012-04-11 13:52

      I would put him on the bench. He is young and a prospect for the future.

  • Morne - 2012-04-10 11:40

    Good remarks I think the starting hooker will be the one that will make the least amount of impact from the bench, he will base his selection on this. I just cannot see how you can leave Basson out and pick Brian I just feel we should be looking towards the next world cup I don't believe Brian will make it to then he might of had a couple of good games but he is still no where close to the class of Basson at the moment. Forwards we don't have a problem at the moment we could probably pick 2 tight 5 teams that can get the job done , lossies I mean where do we start no problems there. I think the shock might be at no. 10 Lambie has been playing dam good rugby at 10 especially if you have a big 12 like Frans Steyn I would move Jean to 13 I think he will get a lot better space to work in and might be a bit more lethal. 15 no there we need to look at our game plan and pick according to that I would pick Joe and move Aplon to the one wing with Mvovo on the other

      moregareth - 2012-04-10 11:53

      Morne, I also think there will be a 'shock' at 10. I just think you're wrong about which player it will be ;)

      David - 2012-04-10 12:19

      Not so keen on Aplon at fullback. He has to play wing if selected. Joe Peterson has really impressed me so he'd be my pick at fullback (another Percy??). My wings would be Mvovo and Aplon. Aplon can create out of nothing and Mvovo has finished some great tries this years.

      patrickjasoncawood - 2012-04-10 12:30

      Basson's defence at Bok level has been pretty bad, Habana has had a great season so far and has massive experience

      stefan.vanderspuy - 2012-04-11 15:11

      Watching Morne play is about as exiting as watching paint dry. An even his kicking is suspect at times. His line kicks are very average. It's gotta be Hougaard and Lambie, no doubt.

  • Saffa - 2012-04-10 11:43

    Lemme rather tell you who I DON'T want in the Bok team: Jannie Dup, Fourie du Preez, Danie Rossouw, Bakkies Botha and various other pensioners who should sit back and enjoy their retirements whilst allowing the youngsters THEIR TIME IN THE SUN (which is NOW). I swear if Fourie du preez starts ahead of Hougie for the Boks, I will lose it.

      David - 2012-04-10 11:55

      There are so many players to fill various positions, it's inevitable that people will disagree. I just hope provincial bias takes a back seat. There are very few Sharks players I can recommend for Bok duty at the moment. Obviously not everyone can be selected, whatever side runs out against England is sure to piss off many people. But I do agree with you, time for the oldies to step aside and let our youngsters show what they can do.

      Gerald - 2012-04-10 12:19

      @David. I couldn't agree more. Especially with the Provincialism

      Saffa - 2012-04-10 12:20

      @David - Lambie, Alberts, Mvovo, JPP etc will all be there and thereabouts come Bok selection time - the Sharks have quality individuals scattered all over the park - as a team they might be clicking at the moment, but that does nothing to detract from the quality of certain players. We have stocks in SA - serious stocks in ALL positions, and I truly believe that bringing oldies back would be a massive step backwards. It would tell all these youngsters that Heyneke has NO faith in them, and that he would rather ONLY sorround himself with that he knows he can control.......In fact - I would see it as a cowardly act and a sign that he has no FAITH in his own coaching if he used the oldies. A dynamic and confident coach would do what Mark Hammet did with the Canes......I am HOPING that Heyneke has the b@lls to do this - but the signals at this stage show the opposite.

      Saffa - 2012-04-10 12:21

      ooops @David - meant to say "as a team the Sharks might NOT be clicking at the moment"

      David - 2012-04-10 13:13

      Beast, Bismarck, Alberts, JP, Lambie, Mvovo and perhaps Marcell Coetzee are the only ones in my mind who are real candidates. Other teams have more fringe players putting pressure on the incumbents.

      stefan.vanderspuy - 2012-04-11 15:18

      Fourie won't play, no ways. Anyone leaving out Hougaard must be stark raving mad. Even McCleod is way better than Fourie. Fourie's time is over, and I think he knows it. Same with Bakkies. The Stormers front row makes Jannie Dup look 4th rate, and Danie Rossouw is just plainly average.

  • patrickjasoncawood - 2012-04-10 12:22

    Even as a Sharks Supporter I dont think Mvovo is good enough to play for the Boks, great attacking but does not have enough skill and his defence is not that great either. I would choose Aplon/JP way before him. Choosing Morne Steyn at 10...great kicker, cant tackle and does not have the vision required to take the Boks forward. Safe choice for HM

      Saffa - 2012-04-10 12:41

      A good coach (as Meyer proclaims to be) will sort out a players weaknesses chop chop.......i.e. Mvovo - defence.

      David - 2012-04-10 13:15

      I'm a big Mvovo fan, seriously good winger and I'm with Saffa regarding his defence. The Sharks don't have a defence coach, so perhaps it's the teams failings and not all his. With proper structures, I'm sure he'll tackle just fine

  • Rudi - 2012-04-10 13:35

    The joys of being a rugby ghuru!Everybody has an opinion.Here's mine.1.Greyling.2.Bissie.3.Coenie.4.Etzebeth.5.Bekker.6.Brussouw.7.Alberts.8.Spies(c).9.Hougaard.10.Steyn.11.Habana.12.Frans S.13.J-Div.14.Pietersen.15.Lambie.16.Chilli.17.Jannie. 18.Juandre19.CJ Stander.20.Mcleod.21.De Jongh.22.Aplon. On form guys like Greyling and Eben deserve starts. Chilli is the best current hooker allthough he is not as robust as Bissie.Juandre and CJ have been brilliant for the Bulls and deserves a bench spot.Still not sure about Frans Steyn as allthough he is a fantastic player he isn't playing S15.I only chose him in the hope that he will still play super rugby.If not, deJongh moves up and Olivier to the bench. Got a feeling that the team will however look much different than this humble expert's.All in all I still believe we should beat the Poms. Good luck Heyneke

      walterjohnsmith - 2012-04-10 17:31

      Dont thin Cj Stander deserve place ahead of Schalk , Dwayne , Kolsi , Marcel Coetzee ext

  • Reuben - 2012-04-10 13:54

    Being Bok selector is quite easy.... 1. Springbok 2. Greysbok 3. Bontebok 4. Blesbok 5. Klipspringer 6. Bok Van Blerk 7. My Bokkie 8. Jou Bokkie 9. Bokdrol 10. Wildebeest 11......

      uwe.klopfer - 2012-04-11 15:24

      wildebeest isn't 'n bok...rooibok, boerbok, bergbok... :)

  • Johan - 2012-04-10 14:21

    For those who would pick Du preez!!!! Why in the world would one need to pick Du preez if one has hougaard?? there is no need for Du preez hougaard has learned enough from him and is much faster around the rucks as well, giving faster ball to the back line were we need to have a running 10 (goosen or lambie which both can kick goals at 80% or more). chiliboy at hooker is a joke, habana on wing is another joke!!! ebersohn has not and wil never make it!!!

  • Morne - 2012-04-10 14:49

    @patrickjasoncawood sorry to say mate but I can not see him playing the next world cup to old he has stepped up a little this year but lets be honest his defense is rushing the outside and creating overlaps for the opposition we have seen this many times putting the bok defense lines under pressure looking for the interspersion, but we can only speculate but it is nice to have options ! (Look at options for 2015 ) not short term as you suggest

  • Jannie - 2012-04-10 15:49

    1. Coenie Oostenhuizen 2. Bismark Du Plessis 3. Jannie Du Plessis 4. Andries Bekker 5. Eben Etzebeth 6. Heinrich Brüssow 7. Willem Alberts 8. Duan Vermeulen 9. Francois Hougard 10. Morne Steyn 11. Lwazi Mvovo 12. Francois Steyn 13. Jean De Villiers 14. Bjorn Basson 15. Jo Petersen 16. Adrian Strauss 17. Dean Greyling 18. Pierre Spies 19. Rynardt Elstadt 20. Patrick Lambie 21. Johan Goosen 22. Juan De Jongh That is my best 22!!!

      tinyiko.hlongwane1 - 2012-04-10 19:03

      Don'gt count berger off, he never let the springbok down, look at the world cup he was a machine, that keeps going put him at 7 or 8

      stefan.vanderspuy - 2012-04-11 15:24

      Get rid of Jannie Dup, Morne Steyn and Spies does not even deserve a place on the bench, and I'd say you've quite a competent side.

  • nyameko.nondzube - 2012-04-10 16:03

    I don't agree that Bismarck is the best hooker. Chilliboy Ralapele has put his hand up for that no2 jersey with sterling perfomances for the Bulls for the second season in the row.

  • Raymond - 2012-04-10 16:22

    Jean de Villiers MUST play (and there is your captain) ahead of Frans Steyn. If you want to include F Steyn for his boot, then it must not be at the expense of Jean dV. A defnite NO to Morne Steyn!!!! If we have to win with penalty kicks, there is something fundamentally wrong. I like Lambie for No10. I believe he has the moxie if coached and played in the position. (come to Cape Town Patrick) He attacks the gain line and has an intelligent boot. He also tackles (Morne?) Ebersohn before de Jong. What about Kitshoff, young, but I have not seen him bested often. Also gets around the park quickly. Hougie for president.

  • rnjacobus - 2012-04-10 17:22

    My selection would be: 15) Joe P 14) Habana 13) Ebersohn 12) F Steyn 11) Basson 10) J Goosen 9) Hougie 8) Spies 7) Kolisi 6) Brussow 5) Kruger 4) Etsebeth 3) Kruger 2) Chilli 1) Greyling, Heyneke said before the captain should be sure of his place so either Francois Hougaardt or H Brussouw.

  • walterjohnsmith - 2012-04-10 17:29

    Dont think Eberson is as nearly good enough to be a springbok . I thinkthis is a perfect combination of eexp but youngsters also - we need Youngsters to start playing now for in 2 years they are going to crush NZ and Aus My team : 1 - Greyling 2 - Bismarck 3 - Coenie 4 - Eben 5 - Bekker 6 - Brussouw 7 - Schalk 8 - Dwayne 9 - Houghaard 10 - Goosen 11 - Habanna 12 - JDV - Cap 13 - Fourie 14 - Aplon 15 - Lambie 16 - Kitshoff 17 - Chilli 18 - Alberts 19 - Elstad 20 - Frans 21 - Sadie 22 - JJ

      Stormkaap - 2012-04-11 11:14

      Two differences.. JDV while steady is not the captain to take us to the WC.. He will be 34.. Fourie hasnt been playing top class rugga. So we have to look at another centre pairing. On the bench.. Sadie is a shadow of last season and JJ must start for the Bulls regularly to make that spot. Otherwise not bad

  • Gerhard - 2012-04-10 17:49

    1. Greyling 2. Du Plessis 3. Oosthuizen 4. Etzebeth 5. Bekker 6. Brussow 7. Alberts 8. Spies (c) 9. Hougaard 10. Steyn 11. Basson 12. Steyn 13. De Villiers 14. Pietersen 15. Petersen

      steyts - 2012-04-11 11:19

      Nee wat ou maat, ek dink Alberts sal meer beteken as Spies op 8 en Burger in as Kaptein op 7 flank... Steyn sal sy sokkies moet optrek! Goosen is kort op sy hakke! Basson impress my glad nie! Na die naweek sal ek eerlik moet wees en se dat dit lyk asof bryan banana besig is om weer goeie rugby te speel!!

  • iserasmus - 2012-04-10 18:25

    For what it's worth, here's my idea. 1 - Beast (if he's not injured) 2 - Bismarck Du Plessis 3 - WP Nel (Honestly, I don't know much about propping, so this selection is a little arbitrary) 4 - Eben Etzebeth 5 - Andries Bekker 6 - Heinrich Brussouw 7 - Schalk Burger (c) (If he's not injured, otherwise perhaps Kolisi? He's been doing very well.) 8 - Pierre Spies (Captain if Schalk is injured) 9 - Francois Hougaard 10 - Patrick Lambie (I think we should try him out here over Steyn at first. If it doesn't work, Steyn can come back. Although his boot is valuable, we do need someone a bit more creative there. Lambie, Frans and Joe can all kick, anyways) 11 - Habana (Contentious, but he's been playing better over the last while. Not quite as amazing as old times, but definitely a bit of sparkle. If he doesn't work out, send in Mvovo 12 - Frans Steyn 13 - Jaque Fourie (Not sure if he'll be able to come back from Japan, if not, De Jongh) 14 - Gio Aplon 15 - Joe Pieterson Subs: 16 - Chilliboy Ralepelle 17 - Steven Kitshoff 18 - Willem Alberts 19 - Elstad 20 - Jean De Villiers 21 - Lwazi Mvovo 22 - JP Pieterson The England series would be a good chance to try out some new players and combinations before we get into the Rugby Championship. In the end, I think we should be building up towards the next World Cup. We should be focusing on players that will still be around in 4 years time.

      Justin - 2012-04-11 14:43

      I like. Include Coenie Oosthuizen as Beast injured, drop Willem Alberts, who has been seriously average of late and needs a wake up call and to lose all that fat - play Ashley Johnson with young Marcel Coetzee on the bench. I would also play the on form Keegan Daniel at 8th man instead of show-pony Spies. Play Lwazi Mvovo and JP on the wings with Willie Le Roux as back-up - no space for Habana

  • Vandre - 2012-04-10 21:17

    come on you must be joking ! how can you leave jaques fourie out ? Jean de villers and fourie would be my center pair as they have played 28 test together and know each other very well on attack and defense ! frans steyn at fullback ! geo aplon and mvovo on the wings ! patrick lambie flyhalf with hougaard his partner ! spies,burger and brussouw the loose forwards ! locks bekker and van der merwe. du plessis brothers with gurthro steenkamp at loose head !

  • Vandre - 2012-04-10 21:43

    oh and by the way there's alot better hookers at the moment then chilliboy. Adriaan strauss,tiaan liebenberg,deon fourie,schalk brits.

  • Joe - 2012-04-10 22:48

    Wy are so many people selecting Spies. He only shines in an open game like the one against the Reds. He isn't right for tough test match rugy. Watch him closely, he never makes big hit, never cleans a ruck properly, falls off tackles. He obviously isn't commited/tough enough. Please watch him closer people???

      Stormkaap - 2012-04-11 11:17

      Its people with dik blou eyes that will select him.. Frankly the only reason he is in the starting 15 is because some fool made him captain. Botha, Van Velze(left for overseas) and Cj Stander are better options at the Bulls. In SA there better @ 7 and 8.

      stefan.vanderspuy - 2012-04-11 16:35

      I agree 100%. All these things you mention, not making big hits, not cleaning rucks etc are so true. He looks strong and powerful but fails when he has to deliver. Not aggresive and committed enough, and his handling is very average! A no-no for my Bok side.

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