Father-son combo on the cards
Flip van der Merwe (File)
Cape Town - If Bulls lock Flip van der Merwe takes the field off the bench in Saturday's Test against France at Newlands, it will be the 11th time for a father-son combination to play for the Springboks.
Flip will join father Flippie - a diminutive misnomer if ever there was one - to follow in the footsteps of Andries Bekker, whose place on the bench he has probably taken, and his father Hennie.
The selection of newcomer Flip to the national squad is well-deserved -and another feather in the cap for the Bulls who contracted him when the Free State largely overlooked the young giant for their Super 14 team.
He has mostly been used as an impact player for the Bulls and did exactly that - make an impact - when called upon.
His father Flippie played for the Springboks in six Tests and 12 tour matches in all after making his debut for Western Province as a teenager.
He was then a lock but moved to the front row where he was the heaviest Springbok until Rudi "Vleis" Visagie took over that mantel.
Flip's test career stretched from the 1981 tour to New Zealand until 1989 against the World XV match in Johannesburg.
While Van der Merwe's selection, considering his form and age 25 (his birthday was last week) is laudable and a good move with the future in mind, the selection of his Bulls squad mate Chiliboy Ralepelle remains a surprise - especially if seen in the context of Springbok coach Peter de Villiers's statement that the players were selected on Super 14 form.
Ralepelle couldn't make the Bulls side after injury and the selection of Bandise Maku would have made much more sense.
Maku played some outstanding rugby off the bench. While there is no denying Ralepelle's potential, it does not fit in with De Villiers' statement as Ralepelle played for the Bulls Vodacom Cup side and was this season regarded as their third best hooker behind Gary Botha and Maku.
The national coach's reluctance in the past to use Ralepelle or long spells off the bench makes it all the more puzzling.
Also in context of the very general statement indeed by De Villiers that Super 14 form dictated selection - who has already made a number of strange utterances even before the international season had started -there is the question why Ricky Januarie was selected, although he had a fair game against Wales.
But his selection then and now certainly couldn't have been on Super 14 form. Is he really better than the other contenders for the Bok jersey?