Schalk poser for the Boks

2011-08-23 14:23

Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer

Cape Town – As one of the truest stalwarts of the 2007 Rugby World Cup-winning team, Schalk Burger’s name among Tuesday night’s Springbok squad for the defence of the trophy is assured ... but will the former IRB player of the year start the first match against Wales?

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That could cause some head-scratching among the Bok management soon after touchdown in New Zealand, as they prepare to meet a Welsh team (in Wellington on September 11) buoyed by Monday’s elevation on the IRB rankings to sixth from seventh.

They switch places with Ireland, in another gentle reminder for South Africa -- despite their own optimism following the comfortable Port Elizabeth victory over the weakened All Blacks -- that they will no first-up pushovers at all in Pool D.

Given that the Castle Tri-Nations success in the Friendly City was also the overdue maiden Bok win of the year, coach Peter de Villiers may not wish to tinker too much with the combo who ground out the 18-5 result for the Wales challenge.

The experimental New Zealand loose trio, admittedly minus their talismanic captain Richie McCaw, played second fiddle to the Bok starting alliance of Heinrich Brussow (the man of the match), Willem Alberts and Pierre Spies.

All three, to varying degrees, convinced in PE, which begs the question of whether Burger, who has not played any rugby since injuring his thumb in the Stormers’ Super Rugby semi-final defeat to the Crusaders at Newlands in early July, will force his way into the XV to play Wales.

De Villiers reminded this writer at a press conference only a fortnight back of Burger’s strong recuperative powers – he is certainly medically tipped to be raring to go on September 11, and has a reputation for taking to combat even after substantial stints “rehabbing” like the proverbial duck to water.

Presumably Burger, still only 28 but gracing his third World Cup, is strongly in the frame: many local pundits are leaning toward a combination of Brussow, Burger (in the No 7 blindside flank jersey) and Spies as the best bet for South Africa in key RWC clashes.

Not only is Burger a committed ball-carrier, but he is like an extra fetcher in being able to steal or slow down opposition ball at the rucks, and his general level of industry, mobility and limb-clattering zeal has made him one of the most respected “loosies” on the planet over a period of several years.

Alberts brings slightly different qualities to the party, as a battering ram and “drive back” tackler of note, but if Burger is deemed fully battle-ready for Wales, smart money suggests the 120kg specimen from the Sharks may be best deployed off the bench for genuine impact in the second half of that tussle.

A few weeks ago, there was speculation that Burger’s possibilities as a No 8 might be revisited at the World Cup, but De Villiers has always shown strong loyalty to Spies in that role and the oft-criticized Bulls man’s two good showings on the trot for South Africa of late suggest he will stay first-choice in that slot -- at least at the outset of the Bok campaign in the Land of the Long White Cloud.

There have been whispers of one or two surprises at Tuesday’s Bok squad announcement (from 19:30), with the name of Bath flanker Francois Louw being freshly bandied about.

But with very senior Bok statesman Victor Matfield dropping a strong hint that all of the match-day 22 who faced the All Blacks will be on the plane next week, only eight “add-ons” are possible and they will almost certainly all come from existing fringe members of the broad current Bok camp.

My own guess is that Louw, whose inclusion I would favour as a proper open-side deputy to the revitalised Brussow, may be put in standby mode, just outside the initial squad.

Possible Bok 30 (17-13 forwards/backs split): John Smit (capt), Victor Matfield (vice-capt), Willem Alberts, Gio Aplon, Bakkies Botha, Heinrich Brussow, Schalk Burger, Juan de Jongh, Jean de Villiers, Bismarck du Plessis, Jannie du Plessis, Fourie du Preez, Jaque Fourie, Bryan Habana, Francois Hougaard, Butch James, Ashley Johnson, Pat Lambie, Beast Mtawarira, Johann Muller, Ruan Pienaar, JP Pietersen, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Danie Rossouw, Pierre Spies, Gurthro Steenkamp, Francois Steyn, Morne Steyn, Flip van der Merwe, CJ van der Linde.


  • Hanjo - 2011-08-23 14:40

    Burger should start, the match against the Welsh is still roughly 20 days away, perhaps a warm-up match against one of the world's minnows might be ideal, this could even be held in NZ. players like du Preez, Burger, and Alberts are all in need of game time, a convincing win to follow up on our win over NZ could just help our momentum going into the WC

      FJ2 - 2011-08-23 14:50

      If he's fit he should play.

      Rob van den Heuvel - 2011-08-23 14:52

      Give him as much game time as possible in the first round.

      Hanjo - 2011-08-23 14:56

      @ Rob, our first round game is against the Welsh, which is arguably our toughest group stage game, so unless we schedule a friendly , he won't get any game time prior to 11 Sept , when our WC campaign kicks off.

      Bulldozer - 2011-08-23 15:12

      I wouldn't pick him until his hair is as long as Frans Steyn's.

      donkerhond - 2011-08-23 15:31

      Match fit or not, in his off time the man has been running like crazy. Won't see him puffing because of being unfit.

      Mthetwa - 2011-08-23 16:02

      If Schalk would just learn to stay on his feet instead of bulldozing to the ground every time he gets the ball, he will regain his former glory.

      Met - 2011-08-23 18:03

      "CASTLE" Tri- Nations? Have I missed something? A new sponsor? Does News 24 know something no-one else does?

      Netherlands - 2011-08-23 18:31

      Skalk, Bismark and Bakkies..... all players with the MOST YELLOW CARDS!!!! The Opposition KNOW how to pull their "STRINGS" and plyay them into making FOOLS OF THEMSELVES and get given a YELLOW or RED CARD... ALL THREE are familiar with their disposition!!!!

      clark - 2011-08-23 19:26

      - Heck I 'm not so sure - was he even missed in the team during his lay off ?

  • Riaan - 2011-08-23 14:41

    Think Gerhard Mostert will be picked above Flippie.

      Rob van den Heuvel - 2011-08-23 14:54

      Flip needs a couple more games at Currie Cup and Super 14 before he can make the step up to international level. WC is just too soon for this young lad, sorry!

      levit8 - 2011-08-23 15:17

      His discipline isn't where it should be. He's a walking liability.

      levit8 - 2011-08-23 15:18

      Liability = Flip, not Mostert

  • GSXA - 2011-08-23 14:46

    Flip Van Der Merwe, Fourie Du Preez and Ruan Pienaar are liabilities we cannot afford. VD Merwe is ill disciplined on the field, Pienaar and Du Preez are shadows of their past. They are going to cost us. Bring in Sarel Pretorius for Du Preez and make Hougaard the no1 scrummy. He will not disappoint.

      Hanjo - 2011-08-23 14:53

      This comment wouldn't have sounded so idiotic, if it wasn't made literally hours before the final 30-man squad will be announced, you can't bring in inexperienced options at this late stage. Fourie will improve with game time, Pienaar won't get much game time.

      Nitronic - 2011-08-23 14:54

      GSXA how will Du Preez be a liability?? I agree with Pienaar. John Smit is the biggest liability in the Bok team

      GSXA - 2011-08-23 15:29

      Du Preez stands around flapping his arms at the ref and forgets to play the ball. How many up and unders did he drop on Saturday? How many tackles did he slip? Hougaard is far better, cleans up quicker, tackles better, more speed and a better eye for the gap. His passing is far quicker than Du Preez's thus affording a flyhalf who prefers standing deep an extra second or two. The list goes on as to why Du Preez is a liabilty.

      Obama Bin Laden - 2011-08-23 15:31

      Hougaard, when the field is wet and slippery (as it will be in NZ) is no scrumhalf

      Dionlaw - 2011-08-23 16:55

      Dream on, Some rugby knowledge would not be amiss with you. Who would have performed better as scrumhalf last Saturday except for Francois Hougaardt. Let me predict that you will eat your ill-copnsidered words before the end of the WC

      Benny66 - 2011-08-23 17:14

      Must agree with you in that FdP's slowness in passing and floating passes severly puts our backline at a disadvantage and removes any chance of attacking from set pieces! He's too good a rugga player to leave at home so we can only hope he sharpens up with more game time. I also have serious misgivings about JP Pietersen's inabilty to tackle. Hougard has proved himself every time he has taken to the park in ANY of several positions. He reads the game well is extremely fast and tackles fearlessly. (no I'n not a bulls supporter).

  • dean Roberts - 2011-08-23 14:48

    Alberts at 8, and Brussouw and Schalk at flanks. That is the ideal loose trio. Spies was good in Durban but he was quiet again in PE. He is too inconsistent to be considered a first choice player, and also the wet heavy fields in NZ do not suit his style of play.

      GHT - 2011-08-23 14:53

      Agree 100% with that team.

      Raka13 - 2011-08-23 15:41

      You have nailed it!!!! Spies=good sportman and all, but best nr8? No way - and please this is not because he is a Blue Bull.

  • Avi27 - 2011-08-23 14:53

    My starting XI 1. Beast 2. Bismark 3. Jannie 4. Bakkies 5. Victor 6. Brussow 7. Alberts 8. Spies 9. Du Preez 10. Morne 11. Habana 12. Jean de Villiers 13. Jaque Fourie 14. JP 15. Pat Lambie Bench 16. John Smit 17. Gurthro 18. Dannie Rossouw 19. Burger 20. Gio Aplon 21. Francois Hougaard 22. Fran Steyn This the side that can win the WC. We have BEST HOOKER-BISMARK BEST no 6-Pitbull Brussow BEST and most experienced lock-Bakkies/Matfield BEST and most experienced centre- Jean de Villiers and Jaque Fourie Strong pack and ball carriers BEST accurate goal kicking flyhalf MOST exciting young player in SA and top 3 in world-Pat Lambie

      Rob van den Heuvel - 2011-08-23 14:56

      Injuries aside, I think that'll be the team on 11th Sept when we play Wales.

      Gouetor - 2011-08-23 15:07

      I will switch Burger and Alberts and Butch James for Aplon

      GraemeBB - 2011-08-23 15:14

      @Avi27 - I would like DeJong on the bench, leaving Steyn or Aplon out. I think JDV must be replaced if he doesnt break the opposition's line. He seems to be struggling a bit. Aplon can cover 15, and the wings. Hougie can cover wing and no9. Frans only 15 - Some may argue centre, but he seems out of shape, and dont see him slotting in well there - on the other hand, he can bash a gap open, or just eat a gap open. - 2011-08-23 15:23

      Perfect - ample cover for all positions on the bench. No need for Butch. we have Lambie and Frans.

      Hanjo - 2011-08-23 15:31

      Burger is a blinside flanker, play him there, Alberts from the bench. John will start? he's the captain?

      mike - 2011-08-23 15:42

      John Smit will start and should start with Biz off the bench. I would also go with a 5/2 split on the bench replacing Gio with CJ. Personnally I would move Frans to 12 and replace him on the bench with De Jong, but that wont happen. Frans will start ahead of Lambie though...

      Jacques Claasens - 2011-08-23 15:57

      @Avi27 Not a bad team at all, but you will have to drop someone off your bench and make space for CJ as you have no tight head, my bet would be Gio, as Frans can cover the whole back line except Half Back, and Francoise would Cover wing and Half Back.

      Koos Poggenpoel - 2011-08-23 16:18

      I will just change the beast for Guthro - otherwise the team I will pick!

      Franklyn - 2011-08-23 22:59

      yup...salient points all,its the coaching staff thats the issue here,this team is good enough to win, personally i would go for burger instead of alberts,and for james to start and steyn on bench,and im just a firm believer that Frans Steyn should be our fullback.

  • Carl Muller - 2011-08-23 14:55

    I like him, he should be there... Or rather I like his game these days....

  • sharkbait - 2011-08-23 14:55

    My only question mark is Ashley Johnson. There is no way on earth he deserves his place in the side purely on merit and this smacks a little of ‘quota’s’ Keegan Daniels must be so de-motivated after the season he has had…

      GraemeBB - 2011-08-23 15:27

      Daniels - no way boet. We have Duane and Josh who are better than he is for that position. And Josh wasnt even considered?

      Hanjo - 2011-08-23 15:37

      it's keegan Daniel? without an "S",and the only player that may feel he needs to be there ahead of Johnson is Deysel, who was brilliant when he started.

      StaalBurgher - 2011-08-23 16:11

      Johnson is good but a kind of middle road selection. Deysel is a better ball carrier and Louw is a better fetcher (but nowhere in Brussow's class of course). Either of those two add more specific benefits above Johnson if they need to replace an injury to the squad.

  • GHT - 2011-08-23 15:00

    Everybody keeps on saying that Spies had 2 good games. The fact remains that he missed a hell of a lot of tackles in these 2 "good" games of his. His tackle success rate is a mere 66%. Attempting 21 tackles and missing a whopping 7 of them. He does get to the break down a lot though.

      Northern Stormer - 2011-08-23 16:34

      Eventually someone who watched the same games I did !!!!

      GraemeBB - 2011-08-23 16:57

      Did you see that he was the leading ball carrier of all the forwards in both home games? Did you see him add an extra dimention to the line-outs. Did you see him at the breakdowns. Did you see him on cover defense. Did we still watch the same game boys? Just like the guys carry on about Alberts as a ball carrier - where may I ask? Or Deysel, go check how he slipped tackles - and so we can go on all day. And then again, I am a Spies fan, so I will see the good, as those whom dont like him will just see the bad.

      Northern Stormer - 2011-08-24 07:26

      @GraemeBB - I don't concentrate on bad only. It is clear the man is an excellent athlete and all the great things only you saw in the two games are possibly true ........BUT he was not on form to date in 2011 and he can be lucky he shaped up the last two weeks and Duanne is injured !! I did however also saw how often we lost the ball on our own throw in at the back of the lineout where he covers. Cover defence ??? missing 1/3 of your tackles - not so great at all. At the breakdowns he was present yes to see Brussow stealing the ball for him to make available - nothing spectacular about that !!! On a good day he is great - for the rest - he is a great CC player at this stage !!!! Lets give him the benefit of the doubt for RWC and report afterwards - hopefully positive !!!!!

      GHT - 2011-08-24 10:28

      @GrameBB. I just said that you really can't call it a good game if you miss a third of your attempted tackles? Not good at all. Extra dimension in the lineouts is good. But you ussually get that from your 8th man anyways. He is just 2cm taller than Alberts and 3cm taller than Spies. It's not like we are comparing him to Brussouw. As far as I am concerned, for cover defense to be successful you need to make your tackles, not miss them. I did mention that he gets to the break down a lot which is a good thing. He did have a good 2 games with ball in hand, gaining 142m with 16 carries, 1 line break and 1 offload, but with 3 handling errors. At the end of the day. You can't say a guy had a very good game and start raving on about it if he only really did a couple of things right. He didn't play badly, he just had 2 average games. Nothing to write home about. Nothing special at all.

  • Tshepo-With-An-O - 2011-08-23 15:05

    "South Africa -- despite their own optimism following the comfortable Port Elizabeth victory over the weakened All Blacks" .... was not comfortable the way i remember it.... i kept expecting the all blacks to score a try at any minute and take the lead.... was far from comfortable... infact it was a nerve wrecking match from the first minute to the last minute..... i only felt comfortable after 79 minutes and 30 seconds

  • Hannes van der Linde - 2011-08-23 15:25

    Nice pic

  • rosemarie - 2011-08-23 15:27

    another player selected on reputation and not form!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Hannes van der Linde - 2011-08-23 15:40

      name one more?

      Jacques Claasens - 2011-08-23 16:11

      @Hannes John Smit

  • leonard.w.gray - 2011-08-23 15:30

    Please don't touch the springbok line up as it is PDV leave burger and smit on the bench, Willem Alberts is a tank and played well

  • Lance - 2011-08-23 15:38

    Give Burger 60 mins...Alberts 20 to add the "finishing touches".

  • la Rey - 2011-08-23 15:54

    Burger , Brussow , Spies should start with Alberts the impact player he is a better impact player when the rest of the guys are tired.

  • Ray Louwrens - 2011-08-23 15:57

    Well here we go, Pdv don't you and your other selectors mess it up?

      Mike@CapeT - 2011-08-23 16:06

      Schalk must be the thickest rugby player in world rugby history, maybe second only to Duane Vermeulen. No loss if those two idiots stay home.

      Oukoos - 2011-08-23 18:34

      Mike@CapeT Al wat jou sal tevrede stel is as die hele Blou Bul S15 span gekies word

      Mike@CapeT - 2011-08-23 20:12

      Ag Oukoos, spyker jy maar net al die Namakwaland tannies wat jou vrou nie van weet nie. Jou rugby kennis is erg bedenklik.

  • hennie.denysschen - 2011-08-23 16:08

    The possible bok side look good.Glad for J MULLER to make a come back and the Springbok selector team did not make a mistake to choose a extra lock forward.Good strong pack of forwards which will show their strength in all aspects.Fourie du Preez to work hard this next 2 weeks to come back in shape for the world cub.GOOD LUCK BOKKE WE SUPPORT YOU 300%.

  • Santie - 2011-08-23 16:19

    Cant see how SARFU would fly down Francios Louw from Engeland for the announcement and not choose him. That would not make sense.

  • Russell - 2011-08-23 16:51

    I would be happy if he was left behind. One of the most overrated players in world rugby.

      Mike@CapeT - 2011-08-23 18:25

      Thank you Russell And the thickest too. Man what a joker

  • Rob Rabbit - 2011-08-23 18:40

    Crickey - don't you WP journos ever give up on your favourites like Louw. What next Brok Harris?

  • Ozman - 2011-08-23 22:23

    Somoa to win group D.........Aussie-Aussie-Aussie

  • TK - 2011-08-24 14:25

    Simple solution - play Burger at 8th Man in place of Pierre Spies. He played at no.8 at school and he is a far more intelligent player than Spies. My starting loose trio: Brussow, Alberts and Burger. Rossouw and Spies on the bench.

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