Rugby Championship

Still no Rohan in Bok squad ... why?

2016-09-22 10:21
Rohan Janse van Rensburg (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - If the public had any say in the matter, there would have been at least a couple of major changes to the 31-man Springbok squad that was announced on Wednesday for two home Tests against the Wallabies and All Blacks on October 1 and 8 respectively. 

Instead, coach Allister Coetzee has kept the faith in the 28 that traveled to Australasia, with only prop Lourens Adriaanse missing out. 

Pat Lambie and Willie le Roux return; the latter's recall not going down so well with some. 

But the major talking point was the omission, once again, of Lions midfielder Rohan Janse van Rensburg. 

The 22-year-old (he is still that young) scored 10 tries in Super Rugby this year - just one less than top scorer Israel Folau.

He was, amongst others, a key figure for the Lions as they dazzled their way through to the tournament final.

Elton Jantjies, Faf de Klerk, Warren Whiteley, Lionel Mapoe, Franco Mostert, Julian Redelinghuys, Ruan Combrinck, Jaco Kriel and, more recently, Malcolm Marx forced their way into Coetzee's plans as a result of that Super Rugby season. 

It hasn't worked out for all of them. 

Jantjies, De Klerk and Mapoe are glaring reminders that form at Super Rugby level does not necessarily translate into form at Test level. 

Mapoe's inclusion in the Green and Gold was welcomed by all who had seen his devastating attacking ability in Super Rugby over the last two seasons but, just 5 starts into his Test career, he lost his place for the Australia and New Zealand away matches. 

His cause may not have been helped playing outside the direct running of Damian de Allende, but the hard truth is that Mapoe came nowhere near demonstrating his best for the Boks. 

It would be interesting to know what frame of mind he is in now having gone from the highest of highs to not even featuring on the bench against the All Blacks last weekend. 

Jantjies and De Klerk are also in that boat, having been on the receiving end of some serious criticism in recent weeks. 

We can't just presume that Janse van Rensburg will immediately replicate his Super Rugby and Currie Cup form for the Boks, and because he is so young he could probably benefit from being eased into the national team. 

With the Boks on their last legs and facing an avalanche of public scrutiny, now might not be the best time to do that. 

It's not that he's not ready. I have no doubt that he could pull on a Bok No 12 jersey tomorrow and look the part.

The Bok backline is screaming for a bit of physicality, and Janse van Rensburg brings that in bucket loads.

But is this the best time? 

Coetzee has been largely consistent in his team selection, backing the likes of Jantjies, De Klerk and a few misfiring forwards. 

But he has seemed a little unsure of what his best centre combination is. 

Having started out with De Allende and Mapoe, Coetzee then moved to Juan de Jongh and Jesse Kriel. 

Mapoe has not fired, but probably hasn't been given the opportunity to. It would be harsh to cull him. 

De Allende simply must have that 2015 form in there somewhere, while De Jongh and Kriel have not done a whole lot wrong in the two opportunities they have each been given abroad. 

The centre battle that is currently playing out at the Boks makes a Janse van Rensburg inclusion tricky at the moment. 

He may be getting close, but I don't think Coetzee has seen enough of the 'bad' from any of the four above-mentioned players to justify pulling the plug.

De Jongh has a lot to prove in the inside channel and would surely be more comfortable at 13 and that, combined with De Allende's poor form, could open the door for Janse van Rensburg at a later stage.

For now, though, it looks like De Jongh will be given another chance to prove himself.

He may be many things, but Coetzee is not easily ruffled. He has a calm head on his shoulders and, almost to a fault, backs his players. 

He is giving his centres the benefit of the doubt. 

But if they do not deliver the goods soon, Janse van Rensburg is surely next in line. 

The Golden Lions are fighting for their lives in the Currie Cup this year, and a potentially season-deciding clash against the Sharks at Ellis Park awaits on September 30. 

Janse van Rensburg might just be better off, for now, continuing to impress in a Lions jersey. That could be better for his long-term future than being thrown into a Bok side that is struggling to breathe at the moment. 

There is no rush. He is young, seriously talented and has a future brighter than most. 

His time will come ... perhaps at the end of the year when the Boks travel up north. 

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