It's the 'bare bones' Boks

2011-07-06 16:45

Comment: Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer

Cape Town - Perhaps it is a good omen ... South Africa will travel for the away leg of the Castle Tri-Nations with a decidedly second-string squad, much like Jake White did ahead of the successful World Cup 2007 campaign.

That much is now abundantly clear, after coach Peter de Villiers and team doctor Craig Roberts on Wednesday unveiled at a media conference here a rather horrific-looking list of injured players - 21 in total - who will not take part in the matches against Australia (Sydney, July 23) or New Zealand (Wellington, July 30).

The conspiratorially-minded are bound to be smelling rats as we speak, given the sensitivity "watered down" squads generate in boardroom, sponsorship and television circles.

But at the same time, perhaps there is no reason to doubt, to letter of medical law, that a formidable tally of knocks, bumps, tears, pulls and strains has followed the maiden, extended Vodacom Super Rugby season.

There is little doubt, after all, that certain players have had almost absurd amounts of game-time: Andries Bekker of furthest-advancing South African franchise the Stormers, for instance, is listed as having three sources of woe: shoulder, groin and ankle.

Rumours had swirled for some time that De Villiers would use the pair of overseas fixtures to "fiddle with combinations" before aiming for a stronger first-choice flavour back on home soil.

This is roughly what predecessor Jake White did (though the programme then was the other way around, with home leg first) in Australasia in 2007.

Although his diluted XVs on each occasion attracted local wrath, the rookie Bok combos were pretty competitive in respective 25-17 and 33-6 losses to the Wallabies and All Blacks - the last one was a flattering score-line to the home side.

A variety of the experienced "core" of the current Bok squad have been withdrawn from the first leg, with the side especially weakened now in areas like lock - no Bekker, Victor Matfield or Bakkies Botha - and at tighthead prop where there have been fresh question marks over quality anyway.

Both Jannie du Plessis ("knee") and BJ Botha ("knee") have cried off, which means you don't have to be a rocket scientist to predict that the Bulls' improving anchorman Werner Kruger (the only No 3 specialist left in the training squad mix) will start for the first time for his country against the Aussies - unless the team management suddenly, cruelly look "outside" for an answer.

There will also be a straight shootout for the loosehead jersey - given that Beast Mtawarira ("hamstring") and Gurthro Steenkamp (still recuperating from his forearm break) stay behind - between burly ball-carriers Dean Greyling and Coenie Oosthuizen.

Still in the picture for the second row, meanwhile, will be such customers as Danie Rossouw - the evergreen utility man could deputise fairly effortlessly for Botha as No 4 lock - Flip van der Merwe, Johann Muller (the now Ulster-based player who ironically led White's experimental line-up in 2007) and Alistair Hargreaves.

Although he was not listed among the "crocked" players on Wednesday, Cheetahs open-side flank Heinrich Brüssow is presumably also not up for consideration just yet, meaning the squad, as it stands, is down to one out-and-out fetcher in Deon Stegmann, who has been blooded before and not hugely impressively.

The old midfield firm of Jean de Villiers ("groin") and Jaque Fourie ("groin", again) will not be on the plane either, meaning that the starting centres in Sydney will have to come from any of Juan de Jongh - another fine opportunity for the 23-year-old, it must be said - Wynand Olivier, Adi Jacobs or the versatile Patrick Lambie, who will also challenge forcefully for flyhalf and fullback.

Scrumhalves who will not go Down Under include the Bulls pair of Fourie du Preez ("knee") and Francois Hougaard ("ankle"), leaving a choice between just Ruan Pienaar and Charl McLeod, it seems.

The Boks will, at least, go overseas with some familiar old faces like captain John Smit (who was always going to need additional game-time at hooker), Pierre Spies and Morné Steyn, so it is not as though they are entirely wet behind the ears.

Based on remaining resources from their "prelim" squad, the Bok XV to start in Sydney could read something like this:
15 Patrick Lambie 14 Gio Aplon 13 Juan de Jongh 12 Wynand Olivier 11 Bjorn Basson/Lwazi Mvovo 10 Morne Steyn 9 Ruan Pienaar 8 Pierre Spies 7 Ashley Johnson/Danie Rossouw  6 Deon Stegmann/Jean Deysel 5 Johann Muller 4 Danie Rossouw/Flip van der Merwe 3 Werner Kruger 2 John Smit (capt) 1 Dean Greyling.


  • thehoff - 2011-07-06 16:54

    still cracking team

      The Goose - 2011-07-07 08:36


      James - 2011-07-08 14:07

      would love to see the Ebherson brothers in that mix

  • Mike Webber - 2011-07-06 16:59

    This is rubbish. The Boks have to win the RWC on foreign soil. We should play our best team for the two away games, then play a second string here at home. That's just common sense ...

      SAFFA-CAT - 2011-07-06 17:23

      @ Mike Webber: And give NZ and OZ the psychological advantage by beating our "A" team in New Zealand and Australia 2 months before the WC? I wouldn't want that (and many of these guys have legit injury niggles....they need rehab and conditioning before taking on the Anzacs) Stuff the overseas leg.

      mike - 2011-07-07 00:55

      Fair point but remember we will have played at least 5 matches before meeting the Ab's in the WC. So there's plenty of time to get used to the conditions. I think the mental factor might be a bigger concern specially if we stick some of the WeePee boys in the team..

      Crusader Man - 2011-07-07 03:51

      @Saffa The AB's will return the favour watch this space .. When we go to SA there will be no Carter no McCaw, Wouldn't suprise me if the Crusaders AB's are all rested... No carter,mccaw, reid, franks, sbw, thorn.. Makes sense play your b team and if you just lose its easy to say what if? The only difference is NZ has good depth in most positions.. Even to replace McCaw is no problem with young Todd... Back up to Carter is where they are going to have problems altho my pick is Slade.. Will be cat n mouse this tri series.. Wouldn't suprise me if big players get pulled after 60 min to see if replacements can cope with big test matches...

      SAFFA-CAT - 2011-07-07 07:06

      @Crusaderman - Henry has already said he will "manage" his top players in the Tri-Nations. I don't blame him either. The Tri-Nations should be cancelled in a World Cup year - end of. But greed dictates otherwise.

      Marx - 2011-07-07 07:42

      All of these guys are worthy of the Bok jersey, I wouldn't call this a "B" team. Maybe a younger team, but there's still enough experience there.

      Jay - 2011-07-07 09:59

      I agree with you chaps, top players should be rested, and given limited game time. This years WC is going to be massive. Time is need to get tired bodies recharged and ready again. Good time to test out potential emergency combinations.

      apie - 2011-07-07 10:38

      Mike a good sportsman plays to win every game and a good coach chooses his best team.

      int1m1d4t0r - 2011-07-07 10:48

      @ apie... That worked very well for the all blacks in the last world cup... lets be honest... if you are a true bok supporter... there is only one thing that matters... the world cup... screw the rest,,... tri nations is a clown award compared to the web ellis!

  • GILLBERT - 2011-07-06 16:59

    dink die bokke gaan tampons nodig he vir die bloed neus wat kom

      CamsComment - 2011-07-06 21:03


  • SAFFA-CAT - 2011-07-06 16:59

    Yesterday P Divvy was asked by a journalist WHEN the public and media would start to see Rassie's influence on the Bok preparations for the World Cup. P Divvy answered: IMMEDIATELY. Now most reckoned he was talking 'on-field stuff'.....I reckon THIS little "up yours Sanzar" (and especially Australia and John pirate cheat o Neill) is what he was actually referring to....... Sounds like a Rassie plan this - cheating the system for the greater good. Well done P Divvy and Bok management. Stuff the Anzacs - it's a WC Year.

      Totman - 2011-07-06 17:58

      Ja. I think you are right. Sounds like him.

      SAFFA-CAT - 2011-07-06 18:03

      P Divvy is too honest and moral to come up with such a blatant "cheat move". Rassie (and I admire and dig the man massively) has the RUGBY morals of an alley cat.......Ruthless Rassie - He is the PERFECT yin to P Divvys decent/moral and almost naive yang.

      Kleinboet - 2011-07-07 00:41

      It's our team and we can play whoever we want. We are not obliged to play our best players into trhe ground just so the Australian television tycoons can make money - they have been running the show for far too long as it is. If we lie, then Aus and NZ have a better chance to win the tri-nations and no reason to complain. If we're not , then they don't have any reason to complain either. I hope the younger players and those who always seem to be on the brink of inclusion but cannot quite make it, seize the oppportunity and hammer those guys on their home turf! To be quite honest, I believe the rugby administrators should accept responsibility for an overcrowded season and, hence, exceptionally high injury rates.

  • BrokenLink - 2011-07-06 17:01

    Yeah defiantly not a bad team. Could see some awesome attacking from that backline!

  • Whoosa - 2011-07-06 17:01

    He he, very interesting, very! I can already hear the outcry about certain selections from certain supporters!

      SAFFA-CAT - 2011-07-06 17:20

      Not as though there is much choice re: selections :) No moans at all. Can't wait to see a few of those "certain" injury enforced selections perform in NZ and OZ...........

      SAFFA-CAT - 2011-07-06 17:44

      and final thought @Whoosa: Have you not wondered why injuries weren't "diagnosed" in Steyn, Olivier and Spies? One would have thought that these 3 chaps (who played every Bulls game) would also be in need of some rest and rehab? Interesting that Butch James who hasn't played in weeks has his old "dodgy knee" to fall back on - yet Steyn must play? Ditto for Spies - why no injury for him. If you see where I am seems the starting 15 (bar John Smit who needs serious game-time, and Danie Rossouw) are ALL staying home......not sure what 'certain supporters' will say about the 'chosen to stay home' selections....... Schalk at 8 possibly to start in A team - as mentioned by P Divvy......James at 10 to start in A team? Have a good evening conspiracy theorists and Bok fans.

      cfpretorius - 2011-07-07 04:31

      @ SAFFA-CAT: Schalk is injured (thumb).

      Whoosa - 2011-07-07 06:03

      saffa no conspiracy theoring here mate. I now this is a second string side. And obviously steyn wynand and spies are in the team because they have been poor this season and are obviously given a second chance to prove their worth. Its just funny that so much noise has been made buy you guys this year about, national treasure duanne, Flouw, Elsie, Nick Cost(us) the semi, Coleman, Sadie, Scrheuder, i mean the list is endless and none of these have made it. Brings me back to my point. You guys should stop talking and start producing, then you might get some respect and more bok selections.

      SAFFA-CAT - 2011-07-07 07:08

      @Whoosa - I don't recall punting anyone of those Stormer players for the Bok squad - except DUANE. The others are talented youngsters who have been a revelation this season, nothing more, nothing less at this stage.......

      Rob van den Heuvel - 2011-07-07 08:15

      @cfpretorius - Div himself said that Schalk would walk straight into the A team once he has recovered from his broken thumb.

  • vidal - 2011-07-06 17:09

    Rest the players, stupid to have a Tri Nations in a world cup year.

      Lance - 2011-07-07 11:31

      They can have the competition for the fringe players wanting a spot in the RWC squad and call it the "Try harder nations".. Rest the first choice players..Will still be great to watch !

      InternetMan - 2011-07-07 14:19

      Hahahahah nice one

  • jock - 2011-07-06 17:11

    This is not good for SA rugby,the spectators,or the sponsors.Cut the number of super 15 games and let us see the best players

      BardofAvon - 2011-07-06 19:45

      jock: It's just coincidence that the T3 is in the same year as the Road Worthy Certificate. Pity the T3 isn't disbanded the year of the RWC. On de other hand, Darren, it gives a clever coach a great chance to give his non-routine national players great international exposure and see how they do.

      CapeTownRob - 2011-07-06 20:09

      The Super 15 is the problem, but the best solution isn't to cut the number of games. Rather get Springbok players to be contracted by the Springboks first, and not available for all the Super 15 games, so that they're fresh for the tests.

  • What de D... - 2011-07-06 17:12

    nou moet piv daddy sy eie potjie krap....lekker.......helium snorgat hanswors gaan sy gat sien!!!!

      BlouBos - 2011-07-07 12:49

      Kies the Blou Bulle se Vodacom (gekombineerde Bulle se B en C span) span en dan is al die probleme opgelos.

  • kameeldoring - 2011-07-06 17:18

    1. Greyling/ Oosthuizen 2. Strauss 3. Kruger 4. vd Merwe/ Rossouw 5. van Zyl/ Muller 6. Deysel/Louw 7. Rossouw/Johnson 8. Spies/Rossouw 9. Pienaar 10. Steyn/Lambie 11. Mvovo 12. Doppies/Olivier 13. De Jongh/Doppies 14. van der Heever/Aplon 15. Viljoen/Lambie Ek dink die manne kan groot marakkas maak in die 3N?

      cfpretorius - 2011-07-07 04:34

      Dit lyk nie sleg nie, maar ek dink nie Doppies se rugby is goed genoeg om hierby ingesluit te word nie. Terwyl so baie spelers gerus word, sou ek vir Morné Steyn ook 'n blaaskans gun en die geleentheid gebruik om Grant en/of Lambie in die nr. 10-trui kans te gee.

      cfpretorius - 2011-07-07 04:38

      Waar's Willem Alberts? Is hy beseer?

  • Bosj - 2011-07-06 17:19

    I don't agree with this "resting players logic". The Allblacks tried it and it backfired badly. The players must gell together (you can still pickup an injury on the first minute of the RWC, then what?). Get your players well tuned, with or without RWC. Try different combinations, but keep playing. Crusaders showed us last week that a week rest or 2 week rest means nothing....

      Lance - 2011-07-07 11:34

      Resting players doesnt mean they are relaxing eating popcorn in front of their tv's...They will be practicing as an A team at home, just not taking much contact.

  • Lock - 2011-07-06 17:33

    You all probably said the same thing when Jake White did it before the World Cup back in 2007...

      InternetMan - 2011-07-07 14:21

      Yes all the comments are exacly the same here and everybody is wrong and you are right. All hail Lock, our new overlord.

  • Oukoos - 2011-07-06 17:35

    En waar is die wonderkind Elton Jantjes?

  • seansauk - 2011-07-06 17:36

    Not too shabby for a supposed "B" side. Our scrums are in trouble, but I think in general the AU and NZ should not take this team to lightly....

      Durasmart - 2011-07-07 09:47

      A tight five of Greyling/Coenie, JohnSmith, Werner Kruger, Flippie and Johan Muller has a fairly solid look at scrum time to me.

      Lance - 2011-07-07 11:37

      Its ok the Aus/Nz sides will go into those games with a half hearted attitude and see their @sses ! Half this Bok side will be playing their hearts out with the hope of playing in the RWC. That type of hunger can change a games outcome.

  • FanieWP - 2011-07-06 18:41

    There must be better senters than Wynand Olivier !!??

      Obama Bin Laden - 2011-07-06 19:59

      Please, no meisiekind

      Martin - 2011-07-06 20:07

      Regtig, jy reken? Seker nie, want anders sou jy hulle genoem het... al die WP senters is nou gekrok, nou reken jy seker daar bestaan nie meer iets soos 'n senter nie. Bleddie een-oog WP ondersteuner!

      Bill - 2011-07-06 21:48

      If we have Wynand at 12 we will at least be sure that the 13 is protected from injuries, Wynand never ever passes the ball to his outside centre, prefers to crashball and then die with the ball on the ground.

      mike - 2011-07-06 23:49

      Maybe you boys should co check the stats for the season, Even when he has a bad start to the season he still comes out tops on almost all the stats, makes you think doesn't it?

      Hein - 2011-07-07 11:56

      @FanieWP en @Obama Bin Laden. Noem hulle - julle kyk weer net met strepies oe na die situasie. Doen bietjie moeite en gaan kyk na die statistiek van die S15 en die skille sal dalk afval van jou strepies oe. Wynand Olivier het 'n beter seisoen gehad as JdV - PUNT. Wynand speel volgens die Bulle se patroon en onder instruksie - hy kan baie gevaarlik wees indien die wedstryd plan dit toelaat.

      kosie - 2011-07-07 12:38

      @ mike: and wynands outside centre has the worst stats, do you know why, CAUSE HE NEVER GETS ACHANCE TO PLAY THE BALL BECAUSE CRASH BALL BARBIE CAN'T PASS.

  • - 2011-07-06 19:43

    Now just imagine the reaction if this 'B' squad pull of a win or two? Whose confidance will be dented then? LOL!

      Lance - 2011-07-07 11:38

      If the backline gets the ball they have had it ! (provided they skip the pass to Meisikind)

      kosie - 2011-07-07 12:40


  • SharkNel - 2011-07-06 20:24

    Team to play oversea 1. Oosthuizen 2. Smit(C) 3. Nel 4. Rossouw 5. Muller 6. Deysel 7. Johnson 8. Rossouw 9. Pretoruis 10. Steyn 11. Mvovo 12. Olivier 13. De Jongh 14. van der Heever 15. Lambie

      cfpretorius - 2011-07-07 04:37

      I'm as a big a fan of Danie Rossouw as the next guy, but I'm struggling to see how he will manage to play at lock and No.8 simultaneously. :) Is Willem Alberts also injured?

      Niceb - 2011-07-07 07:40

      Take out Olivier and put in Sadie, Spies at 8

      Rob van den Heuvel - 2011-07-07 08:21

      @SharkNel - excuse my ignorance, you've got Rossouw at 4 and 8, I like him at 4 - perhaps Kanco or Spies at 8. Would love to see Sadie or Doppies in at 12.

      kosie - 2011-07-07 12:41

      yes CF: alberts is injured

  • United Shark - 2011-07-06 21:26

    This is great news!!! Our top stars will get some rest and get ready for the WC, while younger or doubtful players can get some game time and prove themselves. This could be the best news for the Springboks! I get a good feeling about all this. One thing that I just hope for is that John Smit retires before the WC. I'm a Shark supporter and I idolise John Smit, but he's really past his best and Bismarck Du Plessis is MUCH better. So it's time for Smit to go and who knows if this Tri-Nations won't be something that will make him realise that he should retire. Good luck to this Springbok B team and I hope that there are some good performances from this 2nd string team. The "injured" players must enjoy the rest and condition and prepare themselves nicely for the WC!

  • Bill - 2011-07-06 21:42

    Our senior players have had the guts sucked out of them by being over-played during the last two years. S14/S15, mid-year incoming tests, Tri-Nations, Currie Cup, and then the cherry on the top - end of year tours to the Northern Hemisphere. I have no doubt that the bulk of our players are jaded and running on empty. Overexposure is killing the game - crowd numbers are down and dropping all over, locally the Lions are in deep dwang, even New Zealand is suffering from a cash crisis at provincial level and some of the S15 franchises are running on loans from NZ Rugby. The reality is that too much of a good thing has killed the excitement and anticipation usually associated with big games. Yet the powers that be persist in overkill. In a World Cup year the Tri-Nations is a complete and utter waste of player resources, all in pursuit of the mighty dollar. Somewhere sanity must prevail, and if it begins by holding players back in the Tri Nations, so be it.

  • Neilson - 2011-07-06 21:46

    One big horaaah for Dean Greyling! I hope he get good playing time and shines as per usual. Would have liked to see Brussow get some game time. And Francois Steyn would have been a good weapon in the line rather than the overrated Juan "falling over his own feet" de Jongh.

  • mike - 2011-07-07 01:03

    Can't see them playing Dannie overseas so look to have him come off the bench with Deysel starting at 7. Rest of the side is probably spot on, also the Mvovo/Basson one could go either way. Question: Was Kanko selected in the 50? If so wouldn't be suprised to see him start at 8 specially since Div mentioned resting Spies in another interview?

  • swimfan - 2011-07-07 08:39

    Olivier suck!!!

  • Gazza69 - 2011-07-07 08:55

    Wow! Our depth is astounding. That "B" team is still formidable......

  • Lance - 2011-07-07 11:27

    Nothing wrong with that side at all...Some good talent and many fresh legs..I wouldnt call that team a Bok "B team", but rather an 'A- team".

  • sharkaMania - 2011-07-07 11:55

    If i could select a team to tour it will be more and less like this, and yes i know some are not selected by the selectors; 1) Smit (Sharks) 2) Strauss (Cheetahs) 3) WP Nel (Cheetahs) 4) Rossouw (Bulls) 5) Alstedt (Stormers) 6) Stegman (Bulls) 7) Deysel (Sharks) 8)Johnson (Cheetahs) 9) Pretorius (Cheetahs/Warratahs) 10) Steyn (Bulls) 11) Mvovo (Sharks) 12) De Jongh (Stormers) 13) Olivier (Bulls) 14) Basson (Bulls) 15) Aplon (stormers) But then again i am no selector, but will support any player that plays in the Green and Gold!!!

  • FunkyPow - 2011-07-07 21:32

    This is a strong team, with players that are physically in good shape and hungry to put up there hands and prove a point to the selectors, they have not played to much rugby this year, and may spring a few suprises..I also think PDVllrs realises no team has successfully defended the cup by playing the same team that one the WC before, here is the opportunity to blood new players, where he can identify match winners. Also gives the first choice guys to condition themselves for the WC..infact on paper that back line may be the most explosive we have fielded since 2007 when the likes of Devilliers, Fourie and Habanna were at their peak

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