BJ 'is a must' for RWC 2011
Pretoria – Are BJ Botha and CJ van der Linde really our only options, or are there other tighthead props that can develop in the Super 14?
I have little doubt that we can’t afford to go to next year’s World Cup without Botha, in particular, as he’s our best in the position.
There was a feverish search for tighthead props in Cape Town last week. The fact that the Stormers apparently enquired about the availability of players such as Carl Hayman and Faan Rautenbach made me wonder what we are doing wrong in that regard.
From a national perspective any decision will depend on what coach Peter de Villiers plans to do with John Smit.
The knives are out for Smit at tighthead and while the Bok captain is impressing at loosehead, De Villiers has already indicated that he disagrees with the Sharks.
Do our players simply need time or can they really play Test rugby? Here I’m talking about Brok Harris, Werner Kruger and WP Nel, and to a lesser extent about Jannie du Plessis and Heinke van der Merwe.
Du Plessis and Van der Merwe’s reputations suffered against Leicester on last year’s end-of-season Bok tour. Du Plessis has not really made his breakthrough, particularly not under De Villiers.
There will probably be questions about his temperament and temper, but I prefer a robust tighthead.
That is probably what counts against Harris, Kruger and Nel at the moment. It is also a fact that tightheads are like good wine in the sense that they get better with age, so those players may still be getting there.
The answer will hopefully be found in a few brave choices by De Villiers.
He can use Harris and Kruger in a few tests this year and leave it to them to sink or swim.
For me Nel’s shares have plummeted a little. He has not showed the necessary improvement at Super14 level in spite of having a scrum coach like Os du Randt.
Kruger must be the next player in line as Emerging Springbok. He is the Bulls’ best player on a weekly basis in terms of cleanouts at the rucks and his defence in the tight loose is outstanding.
However, Harris is the man who has put his hand up the highest this year. He’s playing excellent rugby and it’s his ability to play outside the scrum as well that really makes him a valuable player.
I would let both swim this year and expect at least one of them not to sink.
JJ’s form team:
Zane Kirchner, Gerhard van den Heever, Jaque Fourie, Wynand Olivier, Bryan Habana, Morné Steyn, Fourie du Preez, Pierre Spies, Juan Smith, Schalk Burger, Andries Bekker, Victor Matfield, Brok Harris, Tiaan Liebenberg, Gurthrö Steenkamp.