JJ Harmse

Room for Luke in Bok squad?

2011-03-31 12:35
Sport24 columnist JJ Harmse (File)
JJ Harmse

Poor Peter de Villiers. For years he was castigated because he picked Ricky Januarie in his Springbok team, despite the fact that the beefy scrumhalf rewarded him with a match-winning performance against the All Blacks in Dunedin.

On Wednesday, De Villiers announced his new contracted group of Springboks. Januarie’s name was absent. So where are the headlines today congratulating the coach in ‘dropping’ the Stormers halfback?

I suppose the reality of the situation is that there were more pressing issues that came to the fore after De Villiers first had a media session with the Gauteng-based journalists in the morning and then with the Cape Town clan in the afternoon.

John Smit’s captaincy, the use of consultants and the possible drafting in of overseas-based players (read Frans Steyn) are all dominating the headlines today.

I did not see any with regards to Januarie and maybe that is a fair indication how far down the ladder that issue has dropped.

For those of you who are wondering, De Villiers said that Januarie’s injury that prevented him from touring with the Boks in November last year and his recent form ruled him out of contention for a contract.

It is now up to the former Hopefield hero to fight back and show that he still is good enough to play for the Springboks.

Getting regular starting time for the Stormers will be crucial in that regard, but I fear Januarie’s dream to go to New Zealand and play in his second Rugby World Cup is diminishing fast.

But let’s give the player time to prove us wrong.

When looking at the contracts list, I was immediately struck by the fact that there were no fullbacks.

I was expecting Gio Aplon and Zane Kirchner to be there, or at least one of them, as they played in most of the Test matches in 2010.

This can be seen as a vote of confidence in Steyn, I suppose, and proof that the Racing Metro player will be there when De Villiers names his "bigger group" in June.

Steyn should be there. He does offer the Boks something extra with his kicking abilities and the fact that he can slot in anywhere from 10-15 in the backline, makes him a must have.

I was quite happy to see Juan de Jongh’s name among the elite, but was surprised that Adi Jacobs was still there.

There's nothing wrong with the silky skills of the Sharks midfielder, but he also played very little rugby in 2010, so in a way, surely the same should have applied to him?

I am also happy to see Wynand Olivier’s name among the contracted list. Although he is having a torrid time at the moment and despite what all his detractors say, he has the gold medals to prove his worth.

No other centre in the country has been more consistent in the last three seasons of Super Rugby. That is fact and stats prove it. I predict Olivier to bounce back in spectacular fashion sooner rather than later.

The Bok coach referred to Steyn mainly when asked about overseas-based players. Include the name of Ruan Pienaar, who is just too versatile and talented not to travel to New Zealand. He can cover all backline positions, but I am expecting him to travel as one of the three scrumhalves, with Fourie du Preez and Francois Hougaard the others.

I would also have liked to add Schalk Brits to the mix, but it does not look if De Villiers is that interested at this stage. Same with Brian Mujati, who is playing out of his skin for Northampton.

Both of course, have been capped by De Villiers, so one could presume that he would look at them again.
Same with Luke Watson, who is returning to South Africa in the next couple of months. De Villiers has picked him before and now that he is back in the country, could do so again...

Question is, will Watson make himself available?

Read JJ every Sunday in Rapport.

Disclaimer: Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.

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