He went down in the 3rd Minute and will miss the next 8 months of rugby. That is the dilemma facing SA Rugby. Bissie Du Plessis, Springbok and Shark Vice Captain was stuck late and will now miss the remainder of the Rugby Championship as well as the first half of the Super 15 next year. But what does this mean in the Springbok context?
Firstly allow me to say that he will be missed dearly. No matter what the preconception is, Bismarck is a tower up front, and when he gets going, is hard to stop. He is a good ball carrying option, he can compete at the ruck and his brute strength is what we will miss against New Zealand and Australia. South Africa has prided itself on producing some of the best Hookers in the World, and even he had to compete with one of our most inspirational…John Smit.
What options stare us in the eye?
Obviously with the injury to Du Plessis, Adriaan Strauss is next in line. The Cheetah captain has shown that with patience one will get your chance. He has also shown that he can carry the weight, and he will have to be at his best if he really want to show the Bok Trust that he can make a successful transition into the starting hooker.
On the bench though, is where the job gets tricky, because like we saw last weekend, anything can happen in 80 minutes. With the injury to Chilliboy, Heyneke Meyer has opted for the Stormers Hooker, Tiaan Liebenberg and lively Sharks Hooker Craig Burden to travel along. This though has significantly trimmed the options their respective unions have. Burden, many will feel deserves a spot after showing when he got the chance that he can too carry his weight, not to mention the burst of speed he brings.
Worst case scenario?
What would happen if another two of these three injure themselves? Can we rely on English clubs to realise a player or two? Will we ever go so far? Obvious candidates would be:
Schalk Britz, who is currently enjoying some rich form in Europe. The former Stormers boy has pace to burn and he holds his own.
John Smit, dare I mention him? Many can say what they want, but our most capped player and captain makes some good cameos in the late stages of a game.
Other then that, suddenly, a position we were comfortable with has now become a nightmare. This injury also means in terms of the Sharks that Burden has to be used at this level, he will really come into his own, if he is allowed to play the game he knows best. And surely with Bissie out injured at the Durban franchise, suddenly the Currie Cup team has to groom a player that can stand his ground at CC level, but hopefully play some more in the Super 15. Besides Bissie and Craig, the Sharks also have Kyle Cooper, who has made a few appearances but is currently out injured. Monde Radebe is another that can make the step up, but I must be honest and say that I have not seen a lot from him, so I will be watching him closely in the coming weeks.
I hope that these hookers can keep out, but still, get some game time. It seems that Heyneke is not one that gives out caps for nothing, but hopefully their game can talk for them.