Durban - Cobus Reinach, who has been the Springboks’ regular
second-choice scrumhalf for the past two years, could be the surprise omission
when Heyneke Meyer names his Rugby World Cup squad in Durban on Friday night.
The talk in the Springbok camp is that the 25-year-old
Sharks scrumhalf will lose out to the Bulls’ Rudy Paige as Meyer, under
pressure to meet transformation requirements, looks to boost the number of
black players in the 31-man squad.
The 26-year-old Paige from Riversdale in the Western Cape
has been part of the Springbok training squad from the start of the international
season but has not been included in any of the Test squads.
While the lively Paige showed excellent form for the
Bulls during the Super Rugby competition, the selection would be exceptionally
tough on Reinach. The Sharks scrumhalf was called into the Springbok squad
for last year’s Rugby Championships when first Fourie du Preez and then Ruan
Pienaar went down with injuries.
Reinach made his
debut as a second-half replacement for Francois Hougaard in South Africa's
28-10 win over Australia at Newlands last September. He has since won nine Test
caps and has been on the Springbok bench
throughout this year’s international season.
Meyer has already confirmed that Fourie du Preez,
who took no part in the Rugby Championship because of injury, would be his
number one scrumhalf at the RWC. The Ulster-based Pienaar, who started in all
the Springboks’ Tests this year, will be Du Preez’s back-up.
33-year-old Du Preez suffered a medial knee ligament injury in June while
training with his Japanese club. He returned to the Springbok squad and
continued with his rehabilitation and conditioning during the Rugby
Championship but Meyer has kept him on ice, finally resisting the temptation to
field him in the friendly international against the Pumas in Buenos Aires
earlier this month.
Meyer, in explaining his selection, said that he knew
what he had in a player like Du Preez and wanted to keep him back for the World
“Fourie really wants to play but he just isn’t 100% and I
feel if I play him now it will put him at risk for the World Cup. That’s
the bigger picture. We need him fit for the World Cup. I know there will be
criticism that he hasn’t played, but I know he’s a warrior and I’ll always pick
a player I believe in.”
But Meyer also needs Du Preez to hit the ground running
when the Springboks open their RWC campaign against Japan in Brighton on