Cobus Reinach facing the chop?

2015-08-27 12:02
Cobus Reinach (Gallo Images)

Durban - Cobus Reinach, who has been the Springboks’ regular second-choice scrumhalf for the past two years, could be the surprise omission when Heyneke Meyer names his Rugby World Cup squad in Durban on Friday night.

The talk in the Springbok camp is that the 25-year-old Sharks scrumhalf will lose out to the Bulls’ Rudy Paige as Meyer, under pressure to meet transformation requirements, looks to boost the number of black players in the 31-man squad.

The 26-year-old Paige from Riversdale in the Western Cape has been part of the Springbok training squad from the start of the international season but has not been included in any of the Test squads.

While the lively Paige showed excellent form for the Bulls during the Super Rugby competition, the selection would be exceptionally tough on Reinach. The Sharks scrumhalf was called into the Springbok squad for last year’s Rugby Championships when first Fourie du Preez and then Ruan Pienaar went down with injuries. 

Reinach made his debut as a second-half replacement for Francois Hougaard in South Africa's 28-10 win over Australia at Newlands last September. He has since won nine Test caps and has been on the Springbok bench throughout this year’s international season.

Meyer has already confirmed  that Fourie du Preez, who took no part in the Rugby Championship because of injury, would be his number one scrumhalf at the RWC. The Ulster-based Pienaar, who started in all the Springboks’ Tests this year, will be Du Preez’s back-up.

The 33-year-old Du Preez suffered a medial knee ligament injury in June while training with his Japanese club. He returned to the Springbok squad and continued with his rehabilitation and conditioning during the Rugby Championship but Meyer has kept him on ice, finally resisting the temptation to field him in the friendly international against the Pumas in Buenos Aires earlier this month.

Meyer, in explaining his selection, said that he knew what he had in a player like Du Preez and wanted to keep him back for the World Cup.

“Fourie really wants to play but he just isn’t 100% and I feel if I play him now it will put him at risk for the World Cup.  That’s the bigger picture. We need him fit for the World Cup. I know there will be criticism that he hasn’t played, but I know he’s a warrior and I’ll always pick a player I believe in.”

But Meyer also needs Du Preez to hit the ground running when the Springboks open their RWC campaign against Japan in Brighton on September 19.

Read more on:    springboks  |  rwc 2015  |  cobus reinach  |  rugby

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