Springboks

Meyer’s No 11 head-scratcher

2012-10-30 13:12
Raymond Rhule (Gallo)
Cape Town – The enforced absence of one of his most experienced campaigners, Bryan Habana, leaves Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer with a probable three-way dilemma over who to initially station at left wing on the end-of-year tour.

Shortly before the start of last Saturday’s Currie Cup final in Durban, everything pointed to a logical reunion on the three-Test trip of an old firm in the widest berths on the park: Habana and JP Pietersen, World Cup final winners at Nos 11 and 14 respectively when the Boks claimed the 2007 spoils against England.

Their alliance earlier in the season was interrupted, of course, when the long-striding Pietersen, then playing some sublime rugby, fractured a thumb in the Super Rugby final between the Sharks and Chiefs in Hamilton and missed the Castle Rugby Championship.

Habana made a temporary positional switch to right wing, where he fitted in commendably well, but would almost certainly have reverted to his more traditional left with the recent return to fitness of Pietersen.

But then Habana hobbled off with a knee injury only 14 minutes into the domestic showpiece, where his one-on-one duel with Pietersen had already been developing into a highly watchable little scrap.

It was later confirmed that the resurgent Western Province customer would join a swelling list of senior absentees from the Bok tour.

For the lion’s share of the Championship campaign, the Boks fielded Francois Hougaard at No 11, after his struggle to really impose himself at scrumhalf in early combat, where he in turn grabbed the back-three shirt from Sharks flier Lwazi Mvovo.

Hougaard, who again tours the northern hemisphere as a versatile, designated “scrumhalf/wing”, cannot be considered to have quite made the wider spot his own yet, either.

He had a difficult day at left wing when the All Blacks turned on an attacking charm offensive in the closing Championship fixture at FNB Stadium, winning it 32-16 after the Boks had had their noses promisingly in front in the first half – but then so did several other Bok backline players, in fairness.

So Meyer, unless he plans some sort of out-of-position curveball, may well be wrestling with a trio of possibilities at No 11 for the first assignment against Ireland in Dublin on November 10: incumbent Hougaard, Mvovo or his rookie Cheetahs pick Raymond Rhule.

Mvovo does have some prior experience of heavier European pitches, having made his Bok debut on the last tour of northern climes in 2010 ... unfortunately for him in the Edinburgh quagmire where the Boks were upset 21-17.

He did follow that up, mind, with his maiden Test try a week later when South Africa impressively saw off England 21-11 at Twickenham.

If it is going to come down to a shootout between Hougaard and Mvovo, Meyer could hardly be blamed if he considered it a bit of a “six of one, half a dozen of the other” scenario.

The riskiest but perhaps most exciting choice Meyer could make is to catapult the 19-year-old, Ghanaian-born Rhule straight into Test battle against the unsuspecting Irish – this year’s Currie Cup only confirmed the IRB Junior World Championship-winning player’s dynamic pace and power.

Whether he does go that adventurous route or opts instead to blood Rhule more gently, the Bok coach is surely to be commended – for all his other, perceived faults in a taxing first season in charge thus far – for his willingness to infuse pretty raw talent to the national set-up.

Players in this category include Eben Etzebeth (an extraordinary 2012 success for both franchise and country), Johan Goosen and Marcell Coetzee.

Bok squad preparations for the tour begin in Cape Town on Wednesday.

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

Read more on:    springboks  |  raymond rhule  |  rugby
NEXT ON SPORT24X

 

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
90 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

 

Watch: 2015 Absa Cape Epic route

The route of the 2015 Absa Cape Epic has been announced and it promises to be as challenging as ever!

 
 

Where were you when you last felt alive?

4 exercise excuses and how to beat them
Watch: Insane road bike skills!
The most extreme journey ever?
Red Bull Lionheart trail run - not for the fainthearted!
Previous Results

Date Home Team Result Away Team
Vote

After South Africa's 27-25 win over New Zealand at Ellis Park, are you confident the Boks could pull of a similar win on neutral ground at next year's World Cup in England?

 
 
Men
Women
Love 2 Meet
Featured

Got something you'd like to get off your chest? Got a burning desire to air an opinion? If so, be sure to sign-up on Sport24's FORUM!

Latest blogs
 

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

Newsletters Sign up for the Morning Glory, Super 15 and Soccer newsletters

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

Mobile Sport24 on your mobile phone - WAP, alerts, downloads, services

Forum Have your Say on Sport24's brand new Forum!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

iPhone Latest Sport24 news on your iPhone

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

Blogs Yes your opinion counts. Get it out there

 
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.