Who should be the next Bok captain?

2016-04-13 10:13
Warren Whiteley (Gallo)

Cape Town - New Springbok coach Allister Coetzee said at his first press conference on Tuesday that South Africans put too much pressure on their national captain. 

It is a role, Coetzee suggested, that is somewhat overplayed in South African rugby. 

The new Bok mentor did say, however, that he was looking for a player who could contribute week in and week out on the field. 

There is also confusion over whether or not Coetzee can choose a captain from outside the country, but according to a recent report in Rapport, the new Bok captain must be based in South Africa. 

SA Rugby have since confirmed to Sport24 that there is no rule excluding an overseas-based player from captaining the Boks.

Of course, there is also nothing stating that Coetzee's first captain needs to be the guy who leads the Springboks through to 2019 ... a short-term captain is also an option.

Whatever happens, a captaincy announcement shouldn't be expected too soon - Coetzee has already said that he first intends to meet with a number of players - but here are a few names who emerge as possible choices at this early stage. 

Duane Vermeulen

Age - 29

Tests - 35

On the surface, Vermeulen is the obvious choice. He was the Stormers' Super Rugby captain in Coetzee's final season at Newlands and is a player that the Bok coach rates extremely highly. The only problem is that he no longer plays his rugby in South Africa. What effect that will have remains to be seen, but there are few with the combination of pedigree and leadership experience that Vermeulen has. 

Francois Louw 

Age - 30

Tests - 43

Louw is even more detached from South African domestic rugby, having last played Super Rugby in 2011. He has been at Bath in England since, and has committed his future to the club until 2019. There were a few mumblings during the World Cup last year that Louw would be the ideal choice as the new Bok skipper, but it is hard to see that materialising.

Juan de Jongh

Age - 27

Tests - 14

De Jongh is a favourite of Coetzee's and his Test career could be rejuvenated in the coming months. He is also currently co-captaining the Stormers and has been in good touch this season. Again, selecting De Jongh as captain means he needs to play every week for the Boks. Damian de Allende will surely start uncontested at No 12, so De Jongh at outside centre would mean Jesse Kriel or Willie le Roux missing out (if Kriel moved to fullback). 

Warren Whiteley

Age - 28

Tests - 3

If we are only going local, then the Lions skipper's name surely comes into the equation. The obvious concern would be his lack of Test experience and whether or not he would be a regular starter with Vermeulen around. Still, Whiteley is a respected leader in South Africa and he has been at the helm of what has been a special Lions team in recent years.

Beast Mtawarira 

Age - 30

Tests - 75

Experience is no problem here, and Beast is the current captain of the Sharks in Super Rugby. He has responded really well to his new leadership role, but does he have enough in the tank to get the Boks to 2019?

Frans Malherbe

Age - 25

Tests - 12

The other half of the captaincy at Newlands, Malherbe is largely favoured to inherit the No 3 jersey in the new Bok era. He could probably benefit from some more time concentrating solely on his game at international level, though. Would be a big call.

Schalk Burger

Age - 33

Tests - 86

There is absolutely no doubt that Burger could do the job, but whether or not he would even want to is another matter entirely. There is still a lot of uncertainty surrounding Burger's international future. There were many who thought that the Bok legend would retire from international rugby after the 2015 World Cup. That hasn't happened. Then there is also the added complication of Burger leaving South Africa at the end of the Super Rugby season to join Saracens. 

Adriaan Strauss

Age - 30

Tests - 54

Strauss has long played second-fiddle to Bismarck du Plessis at international level. 31 of his 54 Test caps have come as a substitute, but this could be the time for Strauss to make the jersey his own. Of course, it all depends on his Super Rugby form. Strauss is no stranger to leadership and is the current captain of a young Bulls side.

Eben Etzebeth

Age - 24

Tests - 44

The thing about Etzebeth is that he is young and almost guaranteed to be a part of the Springbok setup for the next four years, provided he stays injury free. The only down-side is that he has not been given the captaincy at the Stormers and lacks leadership experience. Could be a dark horse, though.

Handre Pollard 

Age - 22

Tests - 20

There is nothing stating that Coetzee has to have one captain for the next four years. Pollard is out injured for the rest of 2016, but with many years of international rugby still ahead of him there is a feeling that he is a man who could be primed for the captaincy. 


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