Div: Too late for Bismarck
Bloemfontein – Hooker Bismarck du Plessis will only know after the Springboks’ tour to Europe at the end of this year where exactly he ranks in respect of the national selectors.
Coach Peter de Villiers said that there was no truth in Du Plessis being third in the pecking order following the neck operation that effectively ruled him out of the Tri-Nations.
“If we look back scrumhalf Fourie du Preez was once in a similar position to the one Bismarck finds himself in now. He (Du Preez) only played about three games for the Blue Bulls while we played in the Tri-Nations,” said De Villiers.
“I think it’s just a little too late to bring in Bismarck. He needs game time and it won’t help our cause to give him 30 or 40 minutes at a time.
“We will enter a conditioning phase after Saturday’s match (against the Wallabies). It’s just good to keep him on the field, give him the 80 minutes that he needs and then condition him with the rest of the team as part of a unit. We will then re-examine the situation at the end of the year.”
One could gauge from this week’s press conferences at Shimla Park that the Bok captain and De Villiers’ current first-choice hooker, John Smit, will be rested at the end of the year.
This could see Du Plessis and Chiliboy Ralepelle tour together as the two hookers.
“We are blessed to have three such top quality hookers (Du Plessis, Smit and Ralepelle),” said De Villiers.
“The same applies to Beast (Tendai Mtawarira) at loosehead prop. Gurthrö (Steenkamp), who is playing wonderful rugby, struggled last year to keep Beast out of the side. The reverse is now true.”
The Bok coach confirmed that Mtawarira is part of his future plans with Du Plessis.
However, he also believes they need to play regularly for the Sharks in the Currie Cup.
It is still uncertain what De Villiers is planning for Du Plessis going ahead. He is one of the best hookers in the world when he is at his best.
Last year the Bok coach moved Smit to tighthead prop to accommodate Du Plessis’ strength, fiery play and scrumming ability. However, it’s uncertain whether the same route will be followed.
It is also likely that Mtawarira will be a Bok again come the end of the year.