The Great Bok captain Debate!

2014-05-29 07:00
Bismarck du Plessis and Victor Matfield (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - The Springboks will need a new skipper to lead them into battle in the upcoming Castle Lager Incoming Series.

Sport24's rugby 'gurus' Garrin Lambley and Herman Mostert discuss who they'd like to see don the captain's armband.

Garrin Lambley on why BISMARCK DU PLESSIS should lead the Springboks...

WANTED: An interim Springbok skipper!

Following the news that Jean de Villiers's knee has ruled him out of Springbok contention for the Castle Lager Incoming Series, an SOS has gone out for a new leader of the men in Green and Gold.

The shortlist drawn up contained as many as seven potential candidates - although only two stand out as genuine contenders - Bismarck du Plessis and Victor Matfield

Although a case can be made for both, it's clear to me at least that national coach Heyneke Meyer needn't lose too much sleep over selecting his on-field leader - Bismarck du Plessis

Du Plessis was entrusted with the Sharks captaincy this Vodacom Super Rugby season and has blossomed under the added responsibility.

Gone are the moments of hot-headedness that blighted his game in previous years. It's clear the captain's armband has resulted in an added maturity for the world's No 1, No 2.

Whether the Springboks should even be selecting their first-choice line-up for effectively "warm-up" matches against a World XV, Wales (twice) and Scotland ahead of the all-important Rugby Championships is a debate for another day, but assuming they do, much like Jake White pencilled in John Smit's name first on his teamsheet, Meyer should do likewise with Du Plessis - with a little (c) alongside...

Watch Garrin discuss who he'd like here:

Herman Mostert
on why VICTOR MATFIELD should lead the Springboks...

On the presumption that Jean de Villiers is the man to lead the Springboks at next year’s Rugby World Cup, I would pick Victor Matfield as captain for the Boks’ first four games of the season.

Matfield’s return to rugby in 2014 has been nothing short of remarkable. He has again established himself as the lineout king in this year’s Super Rugby competition - his 61 lineouts takes currently puts him at the top of the pile in the Lineouts Won

His ability to disrupt the opponents’ ball sets him apart from his competitors in this key facet of the game, something which would be of high value on the international stage.

However, it’s not just his lineout prowess which impressed me this season. His all-round game has also improved markedly as the season wore on and he displayed his wide array of skills in the Bulls decimation of the Brumbies at Loftus last Friday night. He is sound under the high ball at kick-offs and displayed his skill-set when his break in midfield set up a spectacular try for team-mate Jan Serfontein.

With Eben Etzebeth and Pieter-Steph du Toit out injured, Matfield should be the favourite to start at lock and I’d also make him captain in De Villiers’s absence.

I do not see the 37-year-old as a long-term successor though as there is no guarantee he’ll be able to warrant a starting spot at next year’s World Cup.

However for now - while De Villiers recovers before the Rugby Championship - Matfield should lead the Boks against the World XV, Wales and Scotland. He boasts enough experience as captain and led the Bulls to three Super Rugby titles in the past.

Personally I wouldn’t like to see Bismarck du Plessis as Springbok captain. He seems to play with more vigour without the added responsibility of a formal leadership position, and his at times hot-headedness and constant questioning of refereeing decisions are not characteristics you’d like to see a Springbok captain display. He would be of greater value to the Boks just playing as their number one hooker.

Other potential candidates in line were Adriaan Strauss, Schalk Burger, Francois Louw, Duane Vermeulen and Fourie du Preez.

Strauss is out of the reckoning due to suspension, while Burger, Louw and Vermeulen are probably no certain starters - which should rule them out of the captaincy equation.

I also wouldn’t opt for the media shy Du Preez - who I also see as player more effective without the added burden of captaincy.

Therefore, Matfield is probably the most suitable candidate to lead the Boks in their first four games of the season.

HAVE YOUR SAY: Who would YOU like to see lead the Springboks in their Incoming Series matches? Send your thoughts to Sport24

Victor Matfield and Bismarck du Plessis (Gallo Images)



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