Bok midfield future on show

2012-10-24 11:21

Cape Town – South Africans ought to get a healthy glimpse of the national team’s future at centre when the Currie Cup final is played at Mr Price Kings Park on Saturday (17:00).

Although the respective teams had not been announced at the time of writing, there seemed no reason not to surmise that both the Sharks and Western Province would field predominantly young and exciting midfield combinations.

The favourites and home outfit will almost certainly stick to their successful semi-final alliance of Tim Whitehead at inside centre and Paul Jordaan in the outer channel, and ditto Western Province from their late-show triumph at Coca-Cola Park, with Marcel Brache and Juan de Jongh the respective occupants of the slots.

Of the quartet, only De Jongh already boasts full international experience, the Paarl-born 24-year-old having shown his mettle at the top level intermittently over the course of the last two years, although he has controversially been a fringe element, for the most part, to new coach Heyneke Meyer’s plans during 2012.

His anticipated direct opponent, Jordaan, is making solid strides toward higher recognition, and has time in his side as the Grey College product is only 20 and offers credentials both as a centre and wing, as evidenced by his important contribution to the Baby Boks’ triumph in this year’s IRB Junior World Championship.

A little earlier in the Boks’ up-and-down Test season, Jordaan’s name was already on some experts’ lips as a possible fast-track addition to the squad mix, although Meyer has thus far resisted summoning him – you would think at the very least that he has now leapfrogged someone like the Blue Bulls’ similarly versatile but not wholly convincing JJ Engelbrecht in the pecking order.

Brache, meanwhile, will enter the final as probably the oldest centre on view, at 25, and could perhaps be branded a slightly “later developer” than the others in the likely midfield mix on Saturday, as he first cut his teeth for a couple of productive seasons with UCT in the Varsity Cup.

But that is primarily because the Newlands-based franchise also sport on their long-term books one of the most seasoned customers in centre terms in world rugby: current Bok captain Jean de Villiers.

The 31-year-old has been a Test player for almost 10 years, but also has a regrettable injury jinx of sorts when it comes to major tournaments (especially World Cups in his case) or red-letter matches.

De Villiers is unable to lead the troops into battle against the Sharks – remember that in his long tenure with the Stormers/WP both of the two biggest trophies outside of Test level still elude him -- as he is racing against time to overcome a hamstring strain, in order to be available for the Springbok end-of-year tour squad.

But it is fitting in many ways that Brache gets his maiden showpiece opportunity, as he has mostly served the No 12 jersey with aplomb in this season’s Currie Cup.

The lean customer’s ability to offload deftly in the tackle – a delightful one to set up a try against Griquas in Kimberley comes to mind -- has earned him some inevitable comparisons with Sonny Bill Williams, although there are still a few inconsistencies to his play as well.

He sometimes seems to be thinking one step ahead even before accepting a pass, and has been guilty of some frustrating handling errors at times as a result, though there can be no doubting his attacking acumen and relish.

Directly up against him in Durban will be Tim Whitehead, ironically someone he would have rubbed shoulders with until last season in the Province/Stormers camp.

Whitehead, 24, has only enhanced his reputation as an astute midfield “thinker” and option-taker since his shift up the coast – there is a bit of a Conrad Smith comparison, perhaps, in the way he endeavours to be enterprising and creative and sums up moods and situations.

With all four probable centres for the final falling into the 25-and-under age category, common sense suggests that at least two of them are going to offer up forceful Bok credentials – perhaps sooner than some of them even imagine, when you consider that the Sharks’ re-recruited Bok utility back Frans Steyn is also on the crocked list until the start of the 2013 season.

There have sometimes been pulsating elements to both provincial teams’ midfield play this season, a welcome development for those lamenting collective backline sterility at national level, and it would be a shame if the possibility of inclement weather for Saturday significantly reduces the likelihood of further evidence of that ...

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing


  • bakkies.botha.39 - 2012-10-24 11:36

    Tim Whitehead and Paul Jordaan Bok future!!!!

      frigo.donnerweer - 2012-10-24 11:46

      Bakkies, stem saam jou oor Paul Jordaan, ek dink Tim Whitehead moet my nog oortuig...maar aan die ander kant,Jean sukkel met vorm, so kan hom altyd n kans gee. Ons kort n paar goeie toets standaard senters.

      chris.groenewald.56 - 2012-10-24 12:17

      Nee wat, Tim en Brache is maar gemiddeld. De Jongh en Jordaan is in my opinie die beter senters. Ons het ook Serfontein wat O/20 span se speler van die toernooi was.

      bakkies.botha.39 - 2012-10-24 12:45

      Isak, ek het vir een keer saam jou gestem tot jy gese het JDJ always give his best. Being a TOP CLASS springbok. Toe verloor jy my!!!

      BlouMasjien1 - 2012-10-24 12:51

      Paul Jordaan en Jan Serfontein

      BlouMasjien1 - 2012-10-24 13:02

      Wynand "The Widowmaker" Olivier & Jan Serfontein

      viva.lebok - 2012-10-24 13:32

      Don't forget Frans Steyn.

      mike.oosthuyzen - 2012-10-24 13:40

      Hey Bloumasjien. I just remembered all your brave prophecies about how WP were going to choke this past Saturday????? What happened there? They seemed to be the team that DIDN'T choke at the end???

      BlouMasjien1 - 2012-10-24 14:01

      @mike, There is still one game to go.

      breyneke.dreyer - 2012-10-24 14:24

      There are so many good young centres around. It will be difficult to select the right combination in the next couple of years. I am just worried that the coaches are not developing their obvious talents. I do not believe that the majority of provincial and super rugby coaches know what they are doing. There are at least 4 potentialy great centres at the Bulls alone!! Pienaar has no clue and is, in my humble opinion, the reason for the team not performing.

      hans.himmler.7 - 2012-10-24 15:15

      They are guuuuuuuuuud.

  • gerrit.vanbreda1 - 2012-10-24 12:01

    Jan Serfontein en Paul Jordaan vir volgende wereldbeker

      jaco.groenewald.731 - 2012-10-24 12:16

      Klink goed!!!!

      BlouMasjien1 - 2012-10-24 12:51

      Stem saam

      gerrit.vanbreda1 - 2012-10-24 12:59

      Isak jyt beslis nie die o/21 span gesien speel nie.

      gerrit.vanbreda1 - 2012-10-24 13:10

      Die laaste 4 jaar kom die beste senters van Grey af.

      dao.muangnoicharoen - 2012-10-24 14:00

      arent you forgetting big juan de jongh and fatboy frankie steyn?

  • gerrit.vanbreda1 - 2012-10-24 12:08

    Serfontein en Jordaan vir volgende wereldbeker.

      gary.doyle.520 - 2012-10-24 12:18

      Good combination that. There was an inside centre that played for bulls craven week team this year from waterkloof high school that is going to impress as well.

  • sydney.campbell.7758 - 2012-10-24 12:30

    Jean de Villiers over rated!!!!

      bakkies.botha.39 - 2012-10-24 12:46

      Stem 100% saam!!!

  • conray.joseph.7 - 2012-10-24 12:45

    To early to judge Brache. Would like to see him get a run in superrugby first.I'm a great believer in playing at all the relevant rugby levels before being given a chance at test match level) de jong should definately be a first choice center for the boks on the out going tour(given the fact that FS is out and JdV might also be also jaco taute was very unconvincing against the blacks and wp last weekend and looked much better at Fullback in the past).

      robert.reeve.7564 - 2012-10-24 13:59

      Without the wizardry of Jean deVilliers and Jacques Fourie, we drop from a rated high performance engine to an unproved new engine that has never been driven flat out. Let's hope we don't blow a gasket, when we give it full revs! Go Province and surprise us with a win. But unfortunately, like in the era of Rudolph the red nosed reindeer and Harry the lost soul in a boghole before him, our selectors seem confused again. I think HM must eat humble pie and ask Uncle Nick who to pick for the Boks after this game!

  • dries.vandermerwe.9 - 2012-10-24 14:10

    Neewat, van die klomp is dit net De Jong en Jordaan wat goed genoeg is vir die Groen en Goud. Maar vir die "End of Year" toer sal ek se: 9 - Pienaar, 10 - Lambie, 12 - De jong, 13 - JP Pietersen, 11 - Mvovo, 14 - Habana, 15 - Taute. En wanner HM wil begin dink aan die toekom: 9 - P van Zyl, 10 - J Goosen, 12 - P Lambie, 13 - P Jordaan, 11 - Mvovo, 14 - JP Pietersen, F Steyn... Bench = C Reinach, J de Jong, J Taute... dis maar my 2 cent... :-)

  • jimmy.moustache.12 - 2012-10-24 14:48

    in 2002 the baby boks won the u/21 title and in 2007 the core of that team was involved in the WC title. Gurtro Steenkamp, Gary Botha, Johann Muller, Jaun Smith, Schalk Burger, Fourie Du Preez, Jaun De Villers, Ashwin Willemse. maybe HM should look after the core of this young team as well.

  • joshua.vanvuren - 2012-10-25 14:16

    Rob, Jordaan is a right wing-and unfortunately he didnt play in the final of the IRB Junior World Cup-he was injured. Jan Serfontein will be the 1 future Springbok centre and then 3 years from now he will be joined by the Janse van Rensburg who playd for the victorious Bulls Cravenweek tem this year-fast, strong with sidesteps to both directions like Juan de Jonge who I believe is a wing.

  • joshua.vanvuren - 2012-10-25 14:21

    Jan Serfontein and Janse van Rensburg (18 years old) for future Boks centre pair-the latter 3 years from now. De Jonge to replace Habana on left wing and Jordaan is a right wing. Lambie on 10 and Reinach/Hougaardt on 9 with Goosen fullback.

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