Cape Town – Four Springboks have earned the nod for a phantom
‘world’ combination picked by a leading English rugby scribe after completion
of the June Test window across the planet.
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It appears hard to quibble with too many of the selections
by Robert Kitson of The Guardian, who was on England’s South African safari, and
made after several series were completed in the designated three-week period.
With New Zealand and Australia whipping Ireland and Wales
respectively by 3-0 margins, and the Springboks seeing off England 2-0 with one
draw, his picks pretty fairly illustrate the ongoing supremacy of the game in
the southern hemisphere – he finds room for only two players from the “north”
in his XV, and they are both props in the shape of Ireland’s loosehead Cian
Healy and Welsh tighthead Adam Jones.
Otherwise, it is all SANZAR-linked players as he includes
six All Blacks (five of them in his backline), four Boks and three Australians.
The South Africans earning his approval are brawny blindside
flank Willem Alberts – badly missed in Port Elizabeth on Saturday? – hooker
Bismarck du Plessis, right wing JP Pietersen and, in a nod for his strides in
green and gold this month as a mere 20-year-old, lock Eben Etzebeth.
Critics in these parts might be inclined to suspect others
like industrious open-side flank Marcell Coetzee, Bok captain and outside
centre Jean de Villiers (though he fell away a little in the final Test after
an excellent first two) and perhaps Jannie du Plessis, who is combining better
work-rate with scrumming solidity at No 3, would have come reasonably close.
Tellingly, Kitson’s halfbacks are the cutting-edge All Black
pair of ever-polished Dan Carter and scrumhalf newcomer Aaron Smith: with Morne
Steyn and Francois Hougaard largely out of sorts against England, South Africa
seemed highly unlikely to get a look-in for those slots.
This is the ‘Test window XV’ Kitson chose ... what do
Sport24 readers think?:
15 Israel Dagg (NZ), 14 JP Pietersen (SA), 13 Conrad Smith
(NZ), 12 Sonny Bill Williams (NZ), 11 Digby Ioane (Aus), 10 Dan Carter (NZ) 9
Aaron Smith (NZ), 8 Kieran Read (NZ), 7 Willem Alberts (SA), 6 David Pocock
(Aus), 5 Nathan Sharpe (Aus), 4 Eben Etzebeth (SA), 3 Adam Jones (Wal), 2 Bismarck
du Plessis (SA), 1 Cian Healy (Ire).