Tank Lanning

Ou ballies - In or out?

2015-08-20 10:23
Sport24 columnist Tank Lanning (File)

Righto, so based on the win in BA, all the Boks need to do to win the Rugby World Cup is have a firecracker inserted where the sun don’t shine, play more of a territory-based game than a ball in hand one, don’t miss any kicks at goal, and be assigned competent referees willing to call a game as they see it rather than on perception.

The team and management control the first two factors, Messrs Lambie and Pollard can work on the third, but I am afraid there is more chance of me succumbing to anorexia than the fourth factor coming to fruition.

No doubt something Heyneke Meyer will ponder deeply when finalising the composition of his World Cup squad, set to be announced next Friday in Durban, is how many of the “old guard” that are currently crocked will he risk accommodating in order to maintain calm when all things around them are collapsing.

Given Meyer’s “eggs in one basket” selection policy during his tenure, and his now public call to go back to a “Springbok rugby” game plan for the tournament, I would not be surprised to see all of them in the 31 man squad, but perhaps a quick gander at said “ou ballies”:

Victor Matfield: Not currently crocked, but more masking tape needed to keep him in one piece than ever. One has to wonder how many paths have been blocked by the decision to bring him back, but this bed is now well and truly laid. He must go to the World Cup, and to be fair, he still adds massive value to the Bok lineout.

Francois Louw: No brainer. Will be well and truly over his injury in time for the start of the tournament. Class act as a fetcher, which the Boks must employ.

Jean de Villiers: Biggest call of them all. Current skipper and legend of the game. But he has been out the game for a very long time, and did not exactly cover himself in glory in the Durban loss to the Pumas. If not a first XV starter, or even 23 man squad member, his being in the UK might be disruptive. Could play the Bob Skinstad role of 2007, though, and with Damien de Allende just a smidgen off his game, De Villiers could be a masterstroke at inside centre with Jesse Kriel. Selection poser that would be keeping me from sleep if I was Meyer.

Fourie du Preez: We have seen the impact he makes on the side, even after being away from the game for long periods. Pending medical advice on the injury, a no brainer, especially given that he will be one of three scrumhalves in the squad.

Frans Steyn: That massive boot (and frame) could well sway Meyer. But for me, he comes with too much disruptive history, be it of his own or SARU’s accord. Looks like he carries the weight of the world on his shoulders. The Boks have moved on.

Morne Steyn: Definitely looks a better player for his stint in France, but in Pat Lambie and Handre Pollard, the Boks are very well served at flyhalf. Together with Elton Jantjies, a good option to have at home should the injury curse strike.

Duane Vermeulen: By all accounts, will be ready for that third pool game against Scotland. Hugely risky to bring a player recovering from neck surgery straight back into World Cup rugby. And will impact on the squad composition. But if ever there was a player worth risking something for, it is this man. Pending medical advice, I would risk it.

Willem Alberts: By all accounts, suffering a lower back the equivalent of an 80-year-old which needs constant nurturing and management. Did get through 60 minutes on the weekend though, and at his best, is one of the best ball carriers in the game, something so very vital to the Meyer game plan. As long as Heinrich Brussow can also make the squad, I would risk Alberts.

Jannie du Plessis: Came under massive fire prior to his injury, but that faction has gone extremely quiet having seen the Boks without him at tighthead prop. Break will have done him good. No brainer selection.

All World Cup winning coaches will tell you how key experience is to a campaign. Not at the expense of keeping the energy, enthusiasm, and “vibe” high throughout the tournament though. Some key calls to be made between now and the 28th.

Tank is a former Western Province tighthead prop who now heads up Tankman Media, and sprouts forth on all things rugby on the Front Row Grunt.

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.

Read more on:    springboks  |  rwc 2015  |  tank lanning  |  rugby

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