Black Boks: Meyer to pip Div?

2015-08-27 16:09
Heyneke Meyer (Gallo Images)

Cape Town – Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer seems poised to slightly eclipse his predecessor Peter de Villiers, recently vocal on transformation-related issues, for selection of black players to his RWC 2015 squad.

The incumbent, Sport24 has reliably learnt, will almost certainly include nine players of colour in his 31-strong party to be named on Friday evening in Durban.

That will take him to just about the 30 percent “target” he has apparently been set in order to fulfil transformation requirements for the Bok onslaught on the global event.

It is believed those players will be props Trevor Nyakane and Tendai Mtawarira, loose forward Siya Kolisi, wings Bryan Habana, Lwazi Mvovo and JP Pietersen, centre Damian de Allende, fullback Zane Kirchner and scrumhalf Rudy Paige.

The last-named player will be the only uncapped Bok in the party, and something of a surprise pick as he will nudge out the expected third-choice (after Fourie du Preez and Ruan Pienaar) at No 9, Cobus Reinach of the Sharks.

But Bulls halfback Paige, 26, has been part of the broad Bok training group in recent weeks and is a decent tactical player – the nippy Reinach is more mercurial in his playing style -- who excelled during Super Rugby earlier this year.

De Allende was the focus of a slightly distasteful hullabaloo in Afrikaans newspaper Rapport recently, when his father insisted they were white but Tony Ehrenreich, Western Cape secretary of Cosatu, reportedly altered an earlier view to pronounce: “He is coloured, one of our people.”

Sport24 understands that the promising Stormers-based midfielder is considered a player of colour for SARU purposes, as things stand.

Under such circumstances, and if our forecast proves correct as anticipated, Meyer will beat by one the tally of black players De Villiers picked (eight) for his assault on RWC 2011, which was also his swansong event as national coach. The Boks bowed out at the quarter-finals.

De Villiers, the Boks’ first coach of colour, was criticised from various sectors at the time: one lobby suggested he kept too much faith in stalwarts who had won the cup under Jake White’s tenure in 2007, whilst another lamented that he could have done more in pursuing wider selection of players of colour.

His black players in 2011 were: Habana, Pietersen, Gio Aplon, Juan de Jongh, Odwa Ndungane, Mtawarira, Gurthro Steenkamp and Chiliboy Ralepelle.

Not only is Meyer very likely to go one player more on the transformation front in his Friday announcement, but he and his co-selectors will also be hiking the tally of black African representation from three in 2011 to four this time – Zimbabwe-born Mtawarira, plus Nyakane, Kolisi and Mvovo.

If that is the case, some irony will be detected by certain observers: De Villiers has recently castigated Meyer for alleged preference to white players.

When the incumbent omitted Cornal Hendricks (believed not to be going to the World Cup) for the Durban Test against Argentina in order to switch Jesse Kriel from outside centre to right wing, De Villiers accused Meyer of “taking the country back to the late Eighties”.

De Villiers was reportedly guest speaker in Mossel Bay recently where a new movement was formed to push for more vigorous transformation in rugby, and a Bok jersey was burned.

SARU has a five-year transformation plan, begun last year, in place to try to ensure 50 percent black representation in the national side by 2019, so there is probably still going to be a 20 percent shortfall in terms of that quest when the Boks go into RWC 2015.

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

Read more on:    springboks  |  heyneke meyer  |  rugby


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