Sport24 user picks his Bok team

2015-09-16 10:33
Heyneke Meyer (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Sport24 asked their loyal readers who they would select in the Springbok team to face Japan in the opening Rugby World Cup clash against Japan in Brighton on Saturday.

Kick-off is at 17:45 SA time.

This is the 23-man squad Rikus Swart would like to hear coach Heyneke Meyer read out...

As this is the first game of the world cup I think it is very important to choose your strongest available team in order for them to get settled in as early as possible and to get rid of any early world cup nerves. When selecting a team I do not only look at individual talent but I will look at experience as this will be key to world cup success and I will look also at continuity.

In the front row I opt for continuity and will stick with Beast Bismarck and Jannie. Bismarck will be vital for the Springboks as he will be a nuisance on the ground at the breakdown along with Francois Louw. Jannie had a poor supeRugby, but he silenced his critics in the international games he has played this season and he found form just at the right time.

At locks I will go for Etzebeth at 4 (if he has recovered from his calf injury). If Etzebeth is not fit for the Japan clash I will go for Lool de Jager as he has proven himself in the last two seasons.At 5 it will be no other than the mighty Victor Matfield. People can say what they want about him and his age but fact remains he is one of the fittest players in the team and his ability to read opposition lineout calls and to win his own lineouts will be vital for us in this world cup as we will like always concentrate and depend on the quality of our set pieces and Matfield is definitely still one of the best if not the best lock when it comes to lineouts.

In our loose trio I will stick with Louw, Alberts and Burger at 8. I personally believe that Vermeulen will only be ready against the Samoans the following week and I don't think Meyer will take a chance by risking Vermeulen in the first week after such a big injury. I opt for Louw at 6 as he is our only specialist fetcher among the loose forwards that made Meyer's cut. Louw along with Bismarck will be vital at the breakdowns. I always felt that we missed Alberts during the international season. Alberts is a guy that will help us get over the advantage line and that is the one thing we did not had during this season so far. By having someone in the team who has the ability to constantly get over the advantage line is important as it will help the backline to get good quality ball on the front foot.

My no. 9 will be Fourie du Preez. I do not think there is a better 9 in the world than him. Our backline always look better when he is at 9 and he has an ability to read a game and put players into space and his tactical kicking will also be vital. As he have not played for several months now he will be rusty and I think Meyer should play him every single game until the final in order for du Preez to get his sharpness and match fitness back where it should be. 

At 10 I will go for Pollard. Pollard did not enjoy the best of international seasons during 2015, but with du Preez at 9 I think pollard will be a different player. He is also very strong on defense and he has the ability to break a defensive line.

At 11 it will be no other than Habana as his workrate is unbelievable and his experience will be very important to the team.

At 12 I will definitely go for Damian De allende. I believe this guy is special and he can be the Brian O 'driscoll of South Africa in the years to come ( although he is a number 12).

At the 13 it will be captain courageous Jean de Villiers. He defied the odds by just even being part of this tournament. He worked exceptionally hard and I think he will silent a lot of critics and he will be one of the stand outs by the end of the tournament. He has one goal in mind and that is to bring the cup home and I think this will drive him through until the final whistle sound on 31 October. 

At 14 I will go for JP Pietersen as he has been in two world cups before. He also got a lot of critique, but I don't really know why. He very rarely have a bad game and he never let his team down and he is very strong on defense. I would say Mvovo is a better wing than Pietersen, but he is not as consistent. Mvovo might have a bad game and in world cups you need to select safe players, players you can rely and depend on and I think Pietersen is a very safe option.

At 15 it will definitely be  Willie Le Roux as he is the only proper full back in the team and his ability to pull defenders and create gaps for the players around him will be crucial, however he still needs a lot of work on his defense and hopefully he has worked on it.

At 16 I will go for Brits. In my opinion Strauss offers nothing at the international stage. Brits can make an impact in a game in the last 20 minutes with his quickness and his ability to beat defenders.

At 17 I will go for Nyakane. I think he proved himself against Argentina and he deserves another chance. 

At 18 I will go for Frans Malherbe as he is the only specialist tighthead in the squad and it will be a safer option to pick him rather than to put two utility props on the bench in Coenie and Nyakane.

At 19 I will go for Lood de Jager as he really deserves it to be part of the team. If Etzebeth is injured and De Jager gets drafted into the starting line - up I will opt for Du toit at 19 to cover lock.

At 20 I will have Du toit, if Etzebeth is fit. If Etzebeth does not pass the fitness test and Du toit moves to 18 I will go for Kolis at 20.

At 21 I will go for Pienaar. I am not a Pienaar fan, but considering Paige is yet to make his debut and we all know why Paige is really in the team my only option at 21 is Pienaar.

At 22 I will go for Lambie. I am not a Morne Steyn fan and in my opnion Steyn is too conservative and Lambie is also cool under pressure just as Steyn.

At 23 I will go for Kriel, mainly because Kriel provides more options on the bench than Mvovo. When De Allende gets injured Kriel can slot in at 13 and De Villiers at 12. If Habana gets injured Kriel can slot in at 15, JP at 11 and Le Roux at 14. If Jean gets injured Kriel can slot straight into 13. If JP gets injured Le Roux can go to 14 and Kriel at 15. If Le Roux gets injured Kriel can slot straight into 15. Mvovo on the other hand only provides cover for wing and he played a few times at fullback.


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