Meyer's glaring Bok omissions
Sport24 columnist Tank Lanning (File)
It’s always fun to see the first Bok squad of the year, one because we get a first look at the coach’s thinking, and two, because it means the international season is fast approaching.
And while the Boks and certain selections might frustrate us to beer, seeing the manne emerge from the tunnel in green and gold for the first time is always a very special moment.
This year it will be at Kings Park against the Italians on June 8 in the first of a quadrangular including the Scots and Samoans.
No surprise as Heyneke Meyer remains conservative, opting mainly for continuity rather than form shown in Super Rugby, as that is the type of coach and selector he is. And I do not see him changing anytime soon, as that is how he achieved success with the Bulls.
No Bok team or squad will ever please everyone, hence the pressure of the job as turnips like you and I pick holes in these selections each week. I will back the selected 22 every Saturday, but half the fun of being a rugby mad country is believing we could do a better job than the coach!
The selections of Pieter-Steph du Toit, Jan Serfontein and Robert Ebersohn are tremendously exciting, and I love the fact that Handré Pollard was also considered for the camp, but rather given the opportunity to tour Argentina with the Baby Boks. That is the future of Springbok rugby right there, and its bloody exciting.
Crazy omissions in my book are Heinrich Brussow, Willie le Roux and Wiehahn Herbst, and I think all of Gio Aplon, Philip van der Walt and Trevor Nyakane can count themselves as slightly unlucky.
Quite clearly Zane Kirchner can do no wrong in the eyes of the coach, while Brussow can do no right. If you want a safe fullback, pick Frans Steyn, not Kirchner. But the future has to be guys like Le Roux and Aplon who can unlock defences with speed, skill and guile. Yet we all know Meyer’s obsession with size.
Francois Louw will no doubt come into the frame as the fetcher, and thankfully Meyer has now seen the light on that front, but the obvious backup, or contender, is Brussow, who has played a key part in the Cheetahs phenomenal success this year. Meyer says he gives away too many penalties...
Of huge concern is the form of Jannie du Plessis. To my mind, the obvious player of 2012, but through either too much rugby, or a focus on fatherhood, his form has deserted him in Super Rugby this year. This in the key, but poorly stocked, position of tighthead prop. Neither Pat Cilliers nor Frans Malherbe have impressed this year, with the Stormers scrum being very iffy. Without doubt, the form tighthead in Super Rugby has been Herbst, and he should be being groomed to take over from Du Plessis.
Another player high up on Meyer’s “dead cert” list is Coenie Oosthuizen, but Nyakane has been playing ahead of him for the Cheetahs. JC Janse van Rensberg is clearly feeling the wrath of the Lions time in the rugby wilderness, which is sad. While Van der Walt and the Kings’ Jacques Engelbrecht have arguably been the form 8th men of the tournament.
The Kings players were not considered for this camp, but will be in contention for the second training camp at the end of May. But realistically, only flyhalf Demitri Catrakilis and Engelbrecht might contend for a Bok spot, and both would be long shots.
As said, you simply cannot please everyone and it’s far too early in the season to be making too many judgement calls...
Players invited to the first Springbok training camp of 2013:Forwards:
Tendai Mtawarira, Jannie du Plessis, Frans Malherbe, Coenie Oosthuizen, Pat Cilliers, Adriaan Strauss, Bismarck du Plessis, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Eben Etzebeth, Flip van der Merwe, Juandré Kruger, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Franco van der Merwe, Siya Kolisi, Marcell Coetzee, Willem Alberts, Arno Botha, Duane Vermeulen, Pierre Spies, Ryan KankowskiBacks:
Jano Vermaak, Francois Hougaard, Pat Lambie, Morné Steyn, Elton Jantjies, Jean de Villiers, Frans Steyn, Juan de Jongh, Jan Serfontein, Robert Ebersohn, Bryan Habana, Lwazi Mvovo, Raymond Rhule, JP Pietersen, Bjorn Basson, Zane Kirchner