a 49-man preliminary Springboks WC squad will be announced today.
who’ll be part of this squad to me is irrelevent, as we’ve already seen a 37-man planning squad, and with only a hand full of matches played since the 37-man squad was named, I feel our top 37 won’t change much based on performance.
last week, after the tight Bulls win over the Stormers , I did a post on the Senior Boks’ form displayed in that match, and how I felt the Bok regulars stood up well in the test match like situation. and that the majority of them may be finding form at the right time…very few agreed re my comparisons, Provincialism may have had an influence on their opinions.
Another weekend of SA derbies, saw the Bulls eliminated from the first season of super15 at the hands of the Sharks , while the Stormers beat a lively Cheetahs team to finish second on the overall log… I won’t go into the Sharks win too much, but it was a bit of sweet irony , after the Bulls supporters just couldn’t shut up about their 3 point win at Newlands the previous week…The Bulls, as great a team as they may be, along with their arrogant supporters, and al their “knowledge” will struggle to rid their mouths of that dreadful taste of humble pie…
I watched the SA teams playing with an eye on the Springboks’ form once again. and was again impressed. I have sorted theplayers into the following categories based on form and expectation.
Areas of concern: Jannie du Plessis , John Smit ,
Surprises: Chiliboy Ralepele, Pierre Spies, Duane Vermeulen, Bryan Habana
Glimpses of Light: Werner Kruger , Gio Aplon , Bismarck du Plessis , Willem Alberts, Andries Bekker, Juan de Jongh, Danie Rossouw, Francois Hougaard , Pat Lambie ,
Not convinced yet: Ashley Johnson , Coenie Oosthuizen , Flip van der Merwe , Wynand Olivier , Lwazi Mvovo, Adriaan Strauss
The only men for the Job: Schalk Burger , JP Pietersen , Jaque Fourie, Bakkies Botha , Morne Steyn , Jean de Villiers, Fourie du Preez, Victor Matfield, Beast
Injured or Didn’t play: Juan Smith, Heinrich Brussow, Butch James, Frans Steyn, Ruan Pienaar, Odwa Ndungane, Gurthro Steenkamp
Areas of concern refers to players who I am worried about, We seem to have a large group of John Smit supporters on the blogs, and I can understand the idea of getting behind our national captain, but unless there is some truth in the fact that John wasn’t 100% and therefor Bismarck was selected ahead of him. this selection, for a must win game indicates a lack of faith in John, or just a preference for Bismarck? The fact that we may start WC games without a genuine fetcher will make the selection of John ahead of Bismarck potentially more dangerous.
I also feel Jannie struggled on Saturday at scrum time, he was penalised for scrumming at an angle on a few occasions, and his general game doesn’t offer enough to justify us selecting a average scrummager. a guy like Werner Kruger can’t be considerred a serious option for the starting position with no test experience, he’ll have to start every tri nations match, but even then, it’ll be risky starting him at the WC. I have no idea whther he’s available or ailling to play for us, but surely the time has come to send an SOS to Brian Mujati.
Surprises refert o the players who surprised me, either by stepping up and perforing better than what we’ve come to expect from them, or either just confirming what some have seen long ago. I feel Chiliboy has really grabbed his chances with both hands since he’s been given a few starts this season, he has been consistent, and he’s been good. I feel Bismarck probably has a slight advantage , having his reputation, and having already proved he is capable to perform at his best at test level, where Chiliboy hasn’t had enough starts at national level to convince he’ll take his form to test rugby, he has however convinced me ,he deserves the chance.
up until the weekend both Spies and Habana have been looking off form, although Habana showed some glimpses of his old self against the Bulls, he wasn’t there yet, Spies stood up in the Bulls game, and was brilliant with ball in hand, he also looked determined, and pushed himself. he played with a confidence which was missing before. Habana had a few good breaks, and he scored a great opportunistic try on Saturday, he also made fewer errors, and he seems to be finding some form, There is no doubt, that if we can pick JP , Habana on the wings with either Aplon, Lambie or Frans at fullback, our back three, will be scoring some tries…Duane Vermeulen also outplayed the Cheetahs’ Bok squad member Ashley Johnson, having a very good game until he picked up an injury, if he was to securer a spot in the final squad with the remainder of the Super15, he certainly has bad luck. as he is reported to be out for 8weeks.
We have quite a few players who are on form and very good replacement options to have, they may be spending the majority of their WC time on the bench , but they are considerred Glimpses of Light, the future looks bright with these players around.
There are quite a few players that I’m not completely convinced about yet, most who have yet to impress at test level, Johnson , Strauss, Oosthuizen, Olivier, for all their form and brilliance this season, have never really done much at test level. and maybe in the coming Tri Nations they’ll get the opportunity to prove me wrong, but until then, I’ll be a little sceptic about how they’ll perform in the green and gold. Lwazi may be as quick as lightning, strong and agile, but he just doesn’t seem to fit into our Springbok setup, admittingly, Bjorn Basson would’ve been a logical choice. being such a good player under the high ball, both players though seem to disppear in tight games where the ball doesn’t get to the wings often…I would still have them both aheadof Odwa, who just doesn’t have enough speed to be an international wing.
We have enough experienced senior players who are on form , for us to built the core of our successful WC title defense.
The 49 man squad has been announced, we had 37 players estblised a week ago, so picking 49 again makes little sense to me, Peter Grant, Brian Mujati(if available) and Sarel Pretorius being the only obvious exclusions I can think of now.
Juan de Jongh
Jean de Villiers
Bismarck du Plessis
Jannie du Plessis
Fourie du Preez
Flip van der Merwe