Johannesburg - Springbok Coenie Oosthuizen has an ideal opportunity to cement a permanent place for himself in the Bok squad heading towards the 2015 Rugby World Cup as coach Heyneke Meyer looks desperately for an answer for the back-up position for Jannie du Plessis.
According to the supersport.com website, the Bok coach made his intentions quite clear this past week when he selected Oosthuizen as the back-up tighthead to Du Plessis.
With scrum laws changing and the impact of the scrums still uncertain, the Boks are not ready to gamble just yet on showing their cards going into this year’s Castle Rugby Championship.
But it doesn’t explain the overall worry about the tighthead position at national level. With Pat Cilliers only returning now from injury, Frans Malherbe injured and Lourens Adriaanse invited to the Boks only to be carrying tackling bags makes little sense.
Like the five lock position you get the idea Meyer still isn’t convinced he has the right back up to Du Plessis.
Oosthuizen may not possess the scrumming prowess just yet, but there is hope that if he works on it, he can turn into a good tighthead.
That remains to be seen, but his other qualities – the exceptional ball-carrying skills where he makes metres, and his ability to steal ball at the breakdown make him a valuable player off the bench at the moment.
“The scrums are an uncertainty for us. I won’t say it’s tough, you have to play the cards that are dealt you but the situation is that this is the first time in a test series where we play the new rules.
With two players on standby and new scrum laws to contend with, the Boks believe game time will be good for the tightheads having to deal with the changes.
“We think both Pat (Cilliers) and Lourens (Adriaanse) are both great on standby and the fifth prop normally wouldn’t get much game time in these matches.
Du Plessis is likely to remain unchallenged as the tighthead for some time, and Meyer is banking on his experience up front as the team gels closer together.
“I just believe with the new laws, Coenie is an unbelievable impact player. Jannie is a quality, world class tighthead and he will probably always start.
“If Coenie doesn’t play there in Test match rugby, he won’t be right for the next Rugby World Cup. With Gurthro and Trevor, they are great impact players, and we have a lot of looseheads. But we’re under pressure on the tighthead side.