Shocking call by Stormers
SPort24 columnist Tank Lanning (File)
So there I was, all excited about the group of players selected by Bok coach Heyneke Meyer for the second Springbok training camp
, especially given that Gio Aplon, Trevor Nyakane, Willie le Roux, Wiehahn Herbst and Demetri Catrakilis have got a look in.
Four flyhalves is probably a little OTT, and how Elton Jantjies remains in the frame is quite astounding, as is the non-selection of Heinrich Brussow. Piet van Zyl, Jacques Engelbrecht and Philip van der Walt can probably also consider themselves a little unlucky, but a pretty damn good Bok side could be selected from that group of 38 players. More interesting will be which 16 get the chop next Sunday...
But then I got brought back to Earth with one of the more astonishing selections of all time
- that of lock Marius Coetzer as reserve lock for the Stormers to play the Reds on Saturday.
I realise the Cape side has an injury list that would compare with one seen in a World War, but put plain and simple, this just cannot be the way forward.
I do not doubt Coetzer’s pedigree - he played for the Pumas in the Vodacom Cup, has played over 100 first-class games, and a number of Super Rugby games for the Lions - what I do doubt, massively, is the process, and what message such a selection sends to those players in the province who would give their left testicle to play for the Stormers, and the fans.
To me it smacks of panic.
And there is absolutely no need for any panic in either the Fifth floor boardroom at Newlands or the coaching headquarters in Belville. Change, yes, but panic, no. Sure the season is gone, and it will be remembered for all the wrong reasons, but now is the time for calm heads, a tweak to the game plan, and a chance to use the remaining Super Rugby games to implement said tweaks using players who are committed to the future of the franchise.
For a myriad of reasons, the gamble on Jantjies has not panned out. He is going back to the Lions for the promotion/relegation match at the end of the season. So send him home now and work with the likes of Gary van Aswegen, Kurt Coleman, Dillyn Leyds and Burton Klaasen.
Bryan Habana has chosen to play his rugby in France next year, so why play him in a lost cause this year? Rather bring the likes of Tim Swiel, Pat Howard and Devon Williams into the squad.
Of course it is, the man is a WP and SA legend. But this is professional rugby, and loyalty has long since left the building. Buy him lunch at the end of the season, and use him to mentor the youngsters while he is here, but now is the time for tough calls to be made.
Andries Bekker is off to Japan, so with him out injured, it gives the Stormers time to get a feel for life without him. And with both De Kock Steenkamp and Rynardt Elstadt also injured, these are indeed tough times. But to rope in a guy like Coetzer is just a slap in the face to the entire development, recruitment and club rugby system in the Western Cape!
Wilhelm van der Sluys, Sikhumbuzo Notshe and Taz Fuzani were the locks in the WP Vodacom Cup campaign this year. A campaign that saw them get to the semi-finals. Graham Knoop (who can also play lock), Rayn Smid, Helmut Lehmann were the loose forwards. Maties lock Reniel Hugo was one of the star performers in this year’s Varsity Cup. Mike Ledwidge, a man who has played for WP, lurks in the Hammies 1st XV. All playing rugby for one reason - to try and play for the Stormers.
Van der Sluys has apparently committed to his studies over the exam period, but are you telling me that out of all these players - especially given that Don Armand can also cover lock - not one is a better option than roping in a complete outsider from the Pumas? Not to start, but to sit on the bench...
Jebb Sinclair... Schalk Brits... Marius Coetzer... All bad calls. If you cannot trust your recruitment and development (not the political type) processes, what can you trust? And sadly, I think this might just be a symptom of a bigger disease...
Let it not detract from Tinus Linee day on Saturday though. My former WP team-mate (I was at tighthead against the late Frans 'Domkrag' Erasmus when he made his debut against EP at Newlands) has sadly been diagnosed with MND, and Saturday is all about raising funds for this WP legend. Please get out there and donate, or SMS 'Tinus' to 38208 to make a one-off R10 donation. 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 …
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