Johannesburg - As an extra lineout option,
Bulls No 8 Pierre Spies could find his way into the Springbok squad for the
2015 Rugby World Cup in England and Wales later this year.
Following a two-year layoff due to injury,
the athletic loose forward is starting to show the form that saw him emerge as
one of the finest No 8s in world rugby eight years ago.
Spies suffered a biceps injury in 2013
which saw him miss a large part of that season before he injured the same
muscle at the start of 2014 to rule him out of rugby for nearly two years.
He last featured for the Springboks in
their 53-23 victory over Samoa in Pretoria in June 2013.
The 29-year-old is back in the national
fold for the first time in two years after being called up for the first of two
Springbok training camps this week.
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer said on
Monday his protégé has been in superb form despite detractors saying he lacked
the physicality of traditional eighthmen.
“He’s always been a great player and people
have been harsh on him, he’s been injured for two years and it is tough to come
back and then get another injury,” Meyer said.
“Pierre is back to his best and I believe
he can play better, but he is putting pressure on the other guys.”
Meyer was quick to point out South Africa’s
embarrassment of riches among the loose forwards and intimated that Spies had
some way to go if he was to beat off the competition for a golden ticket.
The Bok mentor said he would have to
carefully weigh up his options when selecting the final 31-member squad.
“Out of your 31, nine must come from your
front row and if you look at your other positions you could go with four locks
and five loose forwards,” Meyer said.
“To go pick five loose forwards from 12
world-class players that is going to be very difficult.”
That is where Spies’ versatility,
particularly as an extra lineout option gives him a slight edge over some of
Over the past two years the Bulls player
had to watch from the sidelines as Stormers eighthman Duane Vermeulen emerged
as one of the best No8s in the world.
It would take an extraordinary effort from
Spies to wrest the jersey from Vermeulen’s vice-like grip but it is an open
contest for the position as hid understudy.