Well another Super XV has come and gone for us Saffas. A disappointing one to say the least. The way the Bulls “threw” away the game against the Brumbies speaks volumes to what a crappy year it has been for South African rugby in particular. Let us hope that the Boks under Heyneke can give us some hope.
That being said it’s that time of year again when us couch coaches start making our predictions of Bok colours for the upcoming Rugby Championship. I hope Heyneke has been buoyed by the performances of form individuals and doesn’t bank on names again like he did last year. That being said, even though our teams have been dismal this year, save maybe the Cheetahs, some of our boys have been at the top of their game.
I know that Doc Craven has spoken about when he picks a team he picks a tighthead and a fullback first and then picks the rest. However, I don’t have the luxury of Doc’s talents so for today’s piece we will just start with the front row and in each position pick the best possible three in my opinion, and probably name one or two unlucky contenders.
So it’s off to loosehead first and in our country we are blessed with some pretty good loosehead talent. Fist and foremost on the list of Bok potentials is the ever green Tendai “Beast” Mtwarira. The Sharks loosehead has almost always been an automatic selection but I feel that being over-played has dulled him a bit. Of his strength and speed there is no doubt but where one was accustomed to bollocking runs from the big man it now almost seems like he is just huffing and puffing his way through a match. I would love to see him get a nice long holiday but for the Rugby Championship I’d still pick him. Second on my loosehead list would be Steven Kitshoff. The ginger-ninja from the Cape franchise has really impressed me and I feel he deserves a call up to the national squad and am kind of baffled as to why he hasn’t received one. My third loosehead choice is that irresistible gummi bear Trevor Nyakane. I was one of those supporters who whooped for joy when he crossed the white-wash for his first Springbok fiver. Nyakane has talent, of that there is no doubt… he is like the loveable fluffy toy with a mean streak. One can’t help but smile when he smiles but at the same time he lets his work on the field do the talking. JC Jansen van Rensburg would be my unlucky-to-miss-a-spot pick. The man has oodles of power and in my opinion is the strongest loosehead scrummager out of the lot. I pick the others above him purely for overall work rate.
Off to hooker now and here we are blessed in two of the world’s best. Bismarck du Plessis and Adriaan Strauss. The dilemma of picking one is luckily not in my hands. But if I had to pick I would always go with Bismarck. He is strong, moves around the park and out of the two the best pilferer on the ground of opposition ball. There is very little to choose between the two and as such Bismarck’s raw strength if what sways me. Third in the line we have Chiliboy. He has been playing good rugby for the Bulls and is also a massive asset on the deck. However the other two are stronger and produce more in the loose in my opinion. However after these three there seems to be little depth in this country. One hooker who seems to have the potential is Kyle Cooper of the Sharks as well. However he is not there in terms of Bok honours just yet.
Tighthead is a position that seems to be causing a headache world wide. I blame the scrum laws. The laws seem to benefit a loosehead in the exchanges and that is why tightheads are becoming a rare and special breed. That being said Jannie has been a stalwart for the Boks for a long time now. He is like the energiser bunny but sooner or later the battery needs a recharge. He would be my first choice for the Rugby Championship and I think him, together with Beast deserve some time off at the End-of-year tours. Second in line for me as a tighthead would be Lourens Adriaanse. He has the potential and I feel he is our second best tighthead in the country at the moment. He has done well for the Cheetahs and deserves a shot. My third choice would be Coenie Oosthuizen. I wish they would settle on a position for the kid because buggering him around like the Cheetahs and Heyneke are doing is only going to turn him into another CJ van der Linde. Coenie has the potential to become one of the world’s great props… if they let him. My unlucky picks here are Wiehan Herbst whose form took a spectacular dive, Frans Malherbe who is more injured than not, Jacobie Adriaanse for leaving before show casing his true potential and then we have Brian Mujati of course. He is highly rated, even by Meyer… but no passport equals no play.
Next week I will be looking at the second row and exploring our particularly thin options in this department.