Rugby

WP's baptism of fire

2009-11-30 22:32
WP Nel (Gallo Images)
Hendrik Cronje

Bloemfontein - South Africa's depth at tighthead prop, after a disappointing overseas tour, will once again be under the microscope when WP Nel scrums down for the Barbarians against the All Blacks at Twickenham on Saturday.

The Bok scrum buckled severely in Europe, and it was only when BJ Botha was selected at tighthead against Ireland, that South Africa could once again go toe to toe with the best.

Struggling scrums meant ruined reputations for the likes of Heinke van der Merwe, John Smit and Jannie du Plessis.

With an eye to the 2011 World Cup, Nel now gets an opportunity against the All Blacks to show that South Africa has enough stock in reserve at tighthead.

Former Bok tighthead, Willie Meyer had this to say: "I am actually sorry that WP did not go on tour with the Boks. Saturday will be WP's baptism of fire and he will also be tested in the Super 14. But I have no doubt that he will take up the fight after an excellent Currie Cup season. He will play for the Boks one day."

Meyer also suggests that Botha be be chosen as the regular first choice tighthead for the Boks.

He believes Van der Merwe to be an excellent loosehead, and Meyer holds him in high esteem for his scrumming ability, but he is of the opinion that he is not a tighthead. Meyer would continue with Smit, who is a good leader, but is again of the opinion that he is not a number three.

Nel will be part of the front row for the exhibition match for the Barbarians against the All Blacks. The Barbarians, however, may come up against a severely weakened All Black team.

Brad Thorn and Andy Ellis has already gone home, while Richie McCaw, Dan Carter, Mils Muliaina, Ma'a Nonu, Jimmy Cowan and Kieran Read have sponsorship duties in Germany.

The Barbarians match 22:

Backs: Leigh Halfpenny (Wales), Bryan Habana (SA), Joe Rokocoko (New Zealand), Drew Mitchell (Australia), Jamie Roberts (Wales), Jaque Fourie (SA), Morné Steyn (SA), Matt Giteau (Australia), Fourie du Preez (SA), Will Genia (Australia)

Forwards: Bismarck du Plessis (SA), Stephen Moore (Australia), Tendai Mtawarira (SA), WP Nel (SA, Cheetahs), Salvatore Perugini (Italy), Victor Matfield (SA), Quinton Geldenhuys (Italy), Carlo del Fava (Italy), Rocky Elsom (Australia), Schalk Burger (SA), George Smith (Australia), Andy Powell (Wales).

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