Pretoria - Former Springbok flyhalf Naas Botha believes only in form players should be selected in the national squad for the Rugby World Cup in two months’ time.
“Experience definitely assists but I believe form is more important because the World Cup is only six weeks long and not three months,” Botha said in Midrand on Wednesday at the launch of his book Creative Rugby which he co-authored with Dr Kobus Neethling.
“When you play league like Super Rugby that takes place over three months which is a different ball game because you can get out of a slump.”
Botha says form trumps experience and should be the only measure when deciding the 31-member group for the global showpiece.
“It is said World Cups are won with experience but is that really the answer? Do you take talent that is in form or do you opt for experience?” he said.
“It think it is quite simple, you take the guy that is in form.”
The rugby pundit says the midfield combination of Jesse Kriel and Damian de Allende is an example of how valuable young talent at the top of their game is to the Springboks.
“If you look at De Allende and Kriel, they have enough experience but on the international stage they are inexperienced,” Botha said.
“Have they really looked inexperienced over the last internationals? No. They were quite creative and scored quite good tries.”
Botha says the duo have created a good selection conundrum for Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer, who will have to decide whether he sticks with the youthful combination or opt for the experience of Jean de Villiers.
“I’ve always said: ‘give me an opportunity and I will make your life difficult’ and that is what Jesse Kriel and Damian de Allende did,” he said.
“They are making Heyneke Meyer’s life difficult because they showed real class and form.
“He will have to make a difficult decision because he can only take 31 players to the World Cup.”
While the midfield combination has been a standout during the Super Rugby season, the title-winning exploits of Springbok pivot Morne Steyn have not gone unnoticed.
Steyn was instrumental in Stade Francais’ successful French Top 14 campaign including a starring role in their final against Clermont Auvergne where he slotted four penalties for the 12-6 victory last month.
“I made an effort to watch his quarter-final, semi-final and final for Stade France and he was absolutely brilliant apart from his kicking,” Botha said.
“He played very good rugby and he must be in the mix but unfortunately South Africans would remind you that against Australia he didn’t kick the ball out.
“There are 14 other guys that can also help a little bit. How did they (Australia) get through? Not by running past the flyhalf but through 14 other players.”
Steyn last featured for the Boks in their 24-23 defeat to Australia in Perth last year where he was blamed for his role in the loss after he failed to kick the ball into touch from a penalty which resulted in the Wallabies scoring for the victory in the dying moments.
The 31-year-old Steyn has since seen Handre Pollard and Pat Lambie move ahead of him as the flyhalf of choice.
Boasting with 688 points from his 59 Tests, Steyn's metronomical kicking could be invaluable at the World Cup.