The future of SA rugby
Jaque Fourie (Gallo Images)
Tokyo - The Springboks would not be The Springboks if it weren't for a bit of controversy and debatable choices.
Recently I read the Jaque Fourie and declined to join the Bok outfit for the next two years so that he can fulfill his commitments in Japan.
This was a little sad but not totally unexpected. The Japan teams pay a king's ransom to have international names on their roster for marketing purposes and to essentially buy the Top League (the local corporate club competition) Trophy.
The way that Japan run their local rugby tournaments is another rant and blog for another time. With that aside, Fourie can stand to make more than double his regular salary if he stays with the Japanese corporate team, but there is a trade off.
Japanese rugby standards are low and top players from around the world only really play for a Japanese team to collect a handsome nest egg and then find a nice corner of the world to retire in.
The amounts of money thrown at big name players is the reason why I am not surprised that Fourie has declined a place in the Bok ranks. This is not the only time a player has opted for money over a jersey.
This decision to turn his back on the Boks really doesn't hurt the Boks of the future. It is true that he is extremely experienced and a great player, but like all things, there is an end and now is as good a time as any to look to future players to fill the voids left by the legends of the Bok jersey.
There are a number of players that are obvious choices the fill the voids, such as Bismarck du Plessis stepping into John Smit's no. 2 jersey.
Matfield has opened the door for a number of fantastic locks to stake claim to the no. 5 jersey. Just look at some of the in-form locks of the Super Rugby and you are spoiled for choice.
Fourie du Preez has left a vacant no. 9 jersey with a number of players wanting the jersey, including Sarel Pretorious, who is having a great season with the Waratahs at the moment. (The player, not the team).
Even with this experience stepping down, Meyer now has a chance to blood new players into the Bok history books and start building a team that can dominate over the years.
There are a number of players in the centre role that can make for a great Bok pairing. Jean de Villiers is still a great player, but is getting a long in age, so there will have to be a player ready to step into his role one day.
JP Pietersen, is playing a massive part in the Sharks' games at centre and could be considered for a Bok no. 13 jersey.
Juan de Jongh has been a name of the future and is proving his talent week in and week out.
Bjorn Basson has also been a regular bench warmer on the Bok squad but has shown improvement over the past few years. These men, amongst others, deserve a chance and can fill the vacant jerseys left by departing players. The loss of Fourie isn't as bad as it looks as there are players capable of stepping up.
The future of the Bok team no longer rests with the men of legends a la Smit, Matfield, du Preez, but rather with the new breed of players as mentioned before.
Meyer has stated that he would like Matfield back on the field as captain, but this is just a band-aid solution to bridge the experience gap.
I say, rather lose a few games now with new players and expose them to the upper echelons of test rugby so that in the future, they are able to understand, learn and play to win, rather than ride on the coat tales of the past and then get beaten once the experience has left.
This was a mistake the Peter de Villiers made at the beginning of his coaching era. He relied on what Jake White built and once that 'White' structure had passed, he was exposed for what he truly was.
Let's not go down the same road again. Play for the future by building a solid foundation of young, hungry players. There is no shame in losing if you have a legitimate plan to conquer the future.