Tank Lanning

Meyer is missing a trick

2013-06-20 09:36
Sport24 columnist Tank Lanning (File)

Match-ups: Boks v Samoa

2013-06-19 14:51

See all the key match-ups ahead of the Test between the Boks and Samoa.

So we are giving both Jean de Villiers and Willem Alberts until Friday to prove their fitness for Saturday’s game. Must be a big one like a Rugby World Cup semi-final or Rugby Championship decider?

Err, no...

It’s a game against Samoa in a meaningless quadrangular put together because we could not get any top tier opposition given that the Lions are touring Australia!

And this with no disrespect to the Pacific Islanders, who have come on in leaps and bounds, and probably pose a bigger threat than they did in the 2011 World Cup, but in reality, even South Africans will probably be more interested in the first Lions vs Australia Test at 12:00 than the 17:15 Test against Samoa.

So why then, I ask with tears in my baby blues, are we giving our national captain and a player who has not played all season, until Friday to prove their fitness?

De Villiers is up there in terms of SA rugby legends, having played 86 times for the Boks, and if he plays on Saturday, he will extend his record as the most-capped Springbok centre, with 71 Tests in this position. And I realise he is keen on that 100-cap benchmark, and not particularly keen to miss a game, but he is also a national treasure who we should be looking after.

De Villiers should have been in Mauritius on Monday with his young family while Jan Serfontein, Rob Ebersohn and Juan de Jongh trained with the national side in Pretoria. What a fantastic opportunity to see if the much spoken about Serfontein could mix it with the boys tagged as chiropractors - for good reason. Instead we want to send an oke carrying a sternum injury out to face that music?

It would also be an excellent opportunity to try out a new captain, with coach Heyneke Meyer on record as saying: “Luckily we have a strong group of leaders in the squad and if Jean doesn’t make it, Adriaan Strauss will take over the captaincy, with support provided by Francois Louw, Pierre Spies, Bryan Habana and Bismarck du Plessis.”

Try it out I say...

Bismarck du Plessis played three games for three different Durban clubs on three successive weekends before coming back into the Bok side as a sub against Scotland on Saturday with not even a hint of strapping on his reconstructed knee. What a fantastic (and foolproof) reintroduction to the game after a big injury.

Club players in the land of Kings Park might be thanking their lucky stars, but why not the same for big Alberts? Especially given the game that Siya Kolisi had last week as a debutant given 75 minutes from the bench. And this weekend it would be with open side extraordinaire Louw back in the side, thus providing a fairer platform on which to judge the Grey High School product. Instead Alberts is given until Friday to prove his fitness.

And do not even get me started on the selection of two loosehead props on the bench for the third week in a row while Lourens Adriaanse carries both the bags and his Bok blazer given that you cannot actually wear the thing until you get a cap. This while we play our only quality tighthead into the earth. I bored you to death on this topic last week, but still no one can explain to me how this can be good for Springbok rugby.

Also no start for Pat Lambie at all? And no look at another No 8 despite Pierre Spies not dominating from the base of the scrum? We started so well against, admittedly, what has now been proven to be a pretty ordinary Italian side, but instead of using the opportunity to grow squad depth and test new players in games that will quickly be forgotten, no matter the result, it seems we are back to trying to win every game, no matter the costs.

Expect blunt force trauma against Samoa on Saturday...

Tank is a former Western Province tighthead prop who now heads up Tankman Media, and sprouts forth on all things rugby on the Front Row Grunt

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