Johannesburg - Jacque Fourie will return to the Springbok setup and be in contention for the 13 jersey next year, but outside the current Bok squad the chances of another player getting a look-in are increasingly slim.
According to the supersport.com website, coach Heyneke Meyer has seemed to pin his colours to the mast with the current crop of players, and while in Fourie’s absence there isn’t a genuine 13 in the current squad about to leave on tour for the Northern Hemisphere, this isn’t something that is causing major headaches in the Bok camp.
And by inference it also means that the chances of Western Province captain Juan de Jongh coming back into the Bok side are rather slim.
Meyer has pinned his hopes on not only Fourie, but has been impressed with Jan Serfontein’s performances in the Castle Lager Rugby Championship in the position and the way the interplay between him and captain Jean de Villiers has developed, especially defensively.
With JP Pietersen back in the group and also spending a lot of time at 13 in the Japanese League where he plays, and Damian de Allende still very much part of Meyer’s plans, only injury is likely to force a chance long term in his vision going into the World Cup.
Having said that, De Jongh hasn’t appeared in any Springbok squad this year, and despite some good form in the Currie Cup, he isn’t likely to be an automatic choice going forward either. The midfielder will have an opportunity to remind the Bok selectors of his form when he faces Australia as part of a star-studded Barbarians line-up Saturday afternoon, but the questions over his size will continue to linger when it comes to the Boks.
To be fair as well, Meyer has never seemed to rate De Jongh in his three years in charge, and seems happy with the personnel he currently has at his disposal.
He said as much this week as the Boks reconvened ahead of a daunting four game tour of Ireland, England, Italy and Wales over the next month.
“I always believed we need a great 13 for the way we want to play and I believe Jan has done brilliantly – he plays mostly at 12, people think he is at 13 but in the game Jean plays mostly there. Jean has played wing and 13 and he has done really well, I think he will improve even more because he is coming back to his best. Jan has done well. JP has proved his worth at 13, he is playing mostly there in Japan at the moment as well. It was the right thing to move him there,” Meyer said.
“Jaque Fourie will definitely be in the squad, I rate him highly, he is still experienced and he is young enough. I saw him in Japan now while we were there and he played two half games since he came back. I don’t think it’s fair on Jaque or the team if I take him with, although I’d love to have the opportunity to work with him on the tour.
“We’re a little bit thin in the 13 position and it is no use taking him with. He will definitely be in the squad and as we’re heading into the World Cup year, we have three guys to pick from. I still believe Damian (de Allende) is improving as well. He has been training with us and it was a big ask to throw him in at the deep end and ask him to play at 13, when he hasn’t played there before.
“He is looking good in training and I believe he can also make an impact at 13. We’re covered there for the tour, but it is a pity that Jaque Fourie couldn’t be there for the tour. Working with him for such a small time, I could see what he has to offer, he is a quality player.”
So if Fourie can prove himself fit ahead of the World Cup, and the others in the squad perform well to Meyer’s liking, it will take a performance that literally breaks down the door next year to fill that jersey.