I am going to do an opinion piece on every Bok player picked for this game. Please note that these are my opinions (shared with almost 70 odd percent of the country). So shall we get started?
15. Zane Kirchner – well if I was coach Zane would probably be my fifth or sixth choice fullback. He isn’t the best reader of a game at the back and in my opinion offers nothing extra to the role. If anything he is an average Super 15 player who in his previous 16 Bok appearances has done nothing to warrant wearing the green-and-gold. Does have pace and size and is a good distributor. Defence isn’t his strength but at the same time it isn’t a massive weakness. He also doesn’t have a great boot on him. In my opinion a lucky Bok
14. JP Pietersen – a stalwart of the Boks. Has hardly ever disappointed and has pace, strength and the ability to change a game. Hi defence is one of his strengths and you won’t find someone beating him on the outside with ease. Reads the game well and showed in this Super 15 he can play centre if needed. He is also a great distributor of the ball. I wouldn’t go to war without him in my squad.
13. Jean de Villiers – Jean is an old head and a clever player. His creativity has been blunted a bit ever since becoming a Bok but still offers more than most. Is quick, has great distribution skills, is an awesome leader and reads a game better than most. I just feel he should never play at 13. He doesn’t have the skill sets for the position. Great choice as captain though.
12. Frans Steyn – Boy wonder can probably not be called a boy anymore. He is almost the complete package as a backline player. He has loads of pace, tackles hard, can kick the ball miles, reads a game well and has awesome distribution skills. Add to that he has BMT and X-factor and you have an awesome player. I feel inside centre is his best position but would have preferred him at fullback for this game.
11. Bryan Habana – his best rugby may be behind him but he is still a class act. Has loads of pace still and always gives 150% in every game he plays. His hand-eye coordination isn’t great. It never has been and his distribution skills aren’t the best but every now and again he can break a game wide open. His defence is excellent and can sometimes act as an extra “fetcher”.
10. Morné Steyn – this has not been one of his best seasons with the boot. His goal kicking if mediocre and kicking out of hand has been up one week and non-existent the next. Morné is only picked for one reason and that is his kicking ability. He reads a game ok, can’t defend and has no pace. His distribution skills are average at best. What happens when his kicking game fails? He offers us nothing then. Lambie would have been my first choice with Grant as back up.
9. Francois Hougaard – by far the best scrumhalf in the country at the moment and soon to be one of the best. He is strong, quick, has an excellent step and passes very well. Reads a game well but isn’t at the level of a Fourie du Preez or Will Genia in that respect just yet. Getting there quickly though. Best choice as scrumhalf.
8. Pierre Spies – probably the only person in world rugby who gets picked on the basis that he looks like he should be a beast when the truth is that he purrs like a kitten. He has no grunt in his game and isn’t the hard-hitting sort of loosie that this country tends to develop. His attacks are usually soft affairs and even though he tackles well, there is no beef in them. He doesn’t read a game like a classic 8th man and all he has going for him is his pace. He disappears in a tight game. I think he should thank his lucky stars that Vermuelen and Burger are injured otherwise I am sure he would be warming the bench, if that!
7. Willem Alberts – nothing in his form this year has suggested he should be wearing the beloved colours. Being top of the missed tackled list as a flanker is never a good thing. He is heavy and slow and has shown no oomph this year. Had a good game against the Stormers though and that coupled with the fact that our loosies are mostly injured, saved his bacon. He will need to have a massive improvement in his game to reach the potential we know he has. Lucky Bok though
6. Marcell Coetzee – one of the new stars this season. He will have the massive boots of Heinrich Brussouw to fill. Has had a great season and along with Kolisi has shown the best potential out of the new crop of talent. However, he is an 8th man, come open-sider playing blind-side. Should be interesting but he seems to be one of those players who will excel in any position he is picked in. Spies should take note. Marcell should be a legend in the making. Deserves his Bok call up.
5. Juandré Kruger – in my opinion he has been the best 5 lock in the country to date. Under the tutelage of Matfield Kruger has blossomed. Bekker might be tall and that is a plus as a jumper but Kruger offers something extra. Bekker will have to fight bloody hard for his spot if he wants it. Deserves to wear the green-and-gold.
4. Eben Etzebeth – must say I was surprised when HM announced his team and I saw Etzebeth picked above Flip, given HM’s penchant for the light blue of Bull. Don’t get me wrong, I’d pick Etzebeth above Flip anytime of the week and twice on Sunday’s. He has the potential to become a great. Wonder if his slight niggle might affect him though.
3. Jannie du Plessis – I don’t know how Jannie always gets picked above WP Nel. Jannie in my opinion is the second best tighthead in the country with WP Nel being number one. Jannie isn’t the best scrummager, gives away penalties and offers nothing in the loose. I just hope Jannie comes to the party on Saturday, otherwise the frontrow is in for a torrid time!
2. Bismarck du Plessis – should have been a starting hooker 2 years ago already. We all know that when Bizzie is on song then there is no better hooker in the country, street corners and all! Now HM said he didn’t pick Brussouw because of the likelihood of penalties. If there is one guy in the team who can and probably will give away more penalties than Brussouw it is Bizzie, which makes HM’s argument on Brussouw moot! Bizzie offers that bit extra, that thing that sets him apart from the plebs, just like Brussouw.
1. Beast Mtwarira – thank you Zimbabwe for being such a crap place to live. You have given us the Beast, and boy are we happy about it! He is by far one of the best loosehead props in the world, if not the best. When he came back from injury it was notable how much the Sharks improved then. They got front-foot set piece ball again and Beast was the man to thank for that.
16. Adriaan Strauss – a great hooker who would walk into most international teams, just a pity he has to do battle with HMS Bismarck.
17. Coenie Oosthuizen – another kid with huge potential who likes bar fights. Probably why he gets penalised a lot, which makes HM’s argument on Brussouw even doubly moot. Coenie is a walking, talking penalty. If he can get that out of his system though he can prove to be a handful.
18. Flip van der Merwe – another person who kills HM’s argument on Brussouw. Flip does have the added advantage of being a yellow card seeker to though. Doesn’t deserve a Bok place as there are better locks than him around.
19. Keegan Daniel – has had so much promise for so long. Does tend to do things alone though but when he is on song he can be very destructive. Would have picked him above Spies for Saturday.
20. Ruan Pienaar – a lot of potential in this guy. Has had a stellar season in the north. He has a great rugby brain. I just hope he will be able to adjust to the faster pace of Bok rugby.
21. Patrick Lambie – the current darling of rugby. This kid is, in a word, amazing. He has a great head on those shoulders. He is cool, calm and collected and I would pick him above Morné any day and everyday.
22. Wynand Olivier – or as he is affectionately know, Meisiekind. He is probably the one who decided on the Bulls wearing pink this season. When I saw his name in the squad my reaction was, “What the Hell!” Here is one guy who is given chance after chance after chance and every time fails! Who knows, maybe the team needs a cheerleader.