I for one am a keen believer in sticking to your word. Like so many people before him that has made promises and not delivered, Heyneke Meyer was faced with the task of putting together a team that could challenge for the Rugby Championship.
This article was written a few months ago and shows HM giving preference to locally based players. Now when it came out, and with so many players leaving our shores, I knew that contradiction would eventually rear it’s ugly head. Once again, and this is no direct attack on a certain union, have players especially players that once wore the light blue of NTvl been given preference.
And while we have a talented crop of players plying their trade overseas, I cannot for the life of me see why we cannot start building a team around the players we have in the country.
South African squad: Willem Alberts (loose forward), Bjorn Basson (wing), Marcell Coetzee (loose forward), Juan de Jongh (centre), Jean de Villiers (captain, centre), Bismarck du Plessis (hooker), Jannie du Plessis (prop), Fourie du Preez (scrumhalf), JJ Engelbrecht (centre/wing), Eben Etzebeth (lock), Bryan Habana (wing), Zane Kirchner (fullback), Siya Kolisi (loose forward), Juandré Kruger (lock), Pat Lambie (flyhalf/fullback), Willie le Roux (fullback/wing), Francois Louw (loose forward), Tendai Mtawarira (prop), Trevor Nyakane (prop), Coenie Oosthuizen (prop), Ruan Pienaar (scrumhalf), Chiliboy Ralepelle (hooker), Jan Serfontein (centre), Gurthrö Steenkamp (prop), Morné Steyn (flyhalf), Adriaan Strauss (hooker), Flip van der Merwe (lock), Franco van der Merwe (lock), Jano Vermaak (scrumhalf), Duane Vermeulen (No 8).
The biggest surprise is the inclusion of Fourie Du Preez. And even though I don’t doubt his credentials, I do doubt whether he will be up to task physically. Since he left, South Africa has seen the rise (and fall) of Hougaard, the sudden burst of Cobus Reinach and the emergence of Piet V Zyl. Too be honest this is one inclusion I would not have bothered with. Aren’t we trying to build a team for 2015? Or are we trying to create a Old Boys Club, where players are only chosen because of their name and who they used to be.
We also like always have players chosen that simply doesn’t belong. Bjorn Basson, as fast and dangerous as he is in the AIR, we need players with the hands and skills to make something out of nothing, where is Lwazi Mvovo or Gio Aplon, who until two years ago was a fan and player favourite? Suddenly when Morne signed a overseas contract, Heyneke had to change his word, forgetting that players like Pat and Elton are waiting in the ranks, like Pat who have had to change his entire style of play to suite the national coach, only to play second fiddle to a player that has decided to go earn big bucks in Europe.
Look, I am not against choosing overseas based players. There is certain exceptions to the rule. I would have included Steenkamp ages ago as he remains a world class player. But I would not have included Fourie, Steyn, Kirchner, Basson and Kruger. Instead I would have opted for Jantjies, Van Zyl, Ludik, Aplon and Franco (to the starting side) and bring in someone like Deysel as cover.
One problem we will always have is the coach not picking to his strengths but instead to his favourites. And if this is the case where we will stick with the one dimensional play, then we will get hammered in the RC.