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
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
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.