Wynand our best 12


Wynand Olivier is the best bet for the number 12 jersey according to JJ Harmse in his News24 column.

The announcement of the British and Irish Lions touring squad on Tuesday brings home the realization that the tour is almost upon us. Another harsh reality is trying to get a hotel room in Durban for the weekend of the first Test match – there is a better chance of having the Bulls go all season without a yellow card, it seems!

Sure to have a room in Durban, though, will be coach Peter de Villiers, who expressed surprise at the selection of Paul O’Connell as Lions captain.

In about four weeks, De Villiers will of course name his own squad and while there are will be no surprise who his captain will be, some other selections might ruffle a few feathers.

I can’t see the Bok coach straying too far from the well traveled path, but it will still be interesting to see how many new players he brings into the squad.

Someone like Wynand Olivier has not been picked by De Villiers yet, although the coach indicated during last year’s end of the year tour that the Bulls centre was unlucky not to be in the mix after a stellar Currie Cup season.

There is no doubt that on form, the Bulls midfielder has no peer at the moment and should be brought back into the Springbok fold.

He last played for the Boks in 2007, but even then never established himself. Jean de Villiers and Frans Steyn took the no 12 jersey and made it their own. Olivier at the time was used by Jake White as an outside centre, but also had some starts on the wing. He played second fiddle to Jaque Fourie then.

As an inside centre, he has now combined all the skills needed to play in that position. His defence is solid, his ability to break the line second to none. His distribution skills have improved a lot and he is probably the best passer of the rugby ball amongst the midfielders currently playing.

Gcobani Bobo, Jean de Villiers and Adrian Jacobs all have more subtle touches than Olivier, but Olivier’s passing to both sides is now accurate and his timing is spot-on.

So how will De Villiers handle the situation?

Will he stay with the successful De Villiers/Jacobs combination, or will we see the more physical combination of Olivier and Fourie selected to combat the Lions midfield?

The Lions selection has made it pretty clear that they aim to get in the faces of the Boks, with the selection of Tom Shanklin and Jamie Roberts suggesting that the direct route will be the most popular one for the tourists.

Where will this leave Frans Steyn? And what about Bobo, who was used very sparingly by De Villiers last year?

I can’t see Waylon Murray coming into contention as he has just started playing again. Meyer Bosman has also faded away as an option.

De Villiers could go back the successful World Cup pairing of Steyn and Fourie, though. Or reunite De Villiers and Fourie, who proved so successful when they came together for the first time …

One combination we have not seen together is Olivier and Jacobs. I suppose Olivier and Steyn could also be an option, but I don’t see De Villiers going that route.

Olivier could also combine with De Villiers, with the latter playing at 13.

It will be interesting to see also if the coach will stick with Jacobs in the starting 13 jersey as Fourie has shown some real class this year.

It is hard to imagine a Bok backline without someone like Steyn even being on the bench, but it is quite possible.

On the basis of what I have seen so far in Super Rugby, Olivier is the best centre in the country. He should have Fourie on his outside, but we will still have to see how the two combine.

I think they will do well together. Both Olivier’s midfield partners at the Bulls, JP Nel and Jaco Pretorius, run good angles and lines and Olivier has no problems combining with them. Fourie’s angled running is outstanding and Olivier will be able to provide him with good ball.

De Villiers is lucky to be in such a position. The injury to Jean de Villiers may force his hand in the opening weeks of the Lions tour, but the fact that anyone of the mentioned players might actually miss out on playing for the Springboks at all this year shows the depth and talent we have available in the midfield. With so many proven combinations amongst them as well, it will take a wise man to make the right call.

Let’s hope Dick Muir and De Villiers look at all their options and are prepared to make tough calls. By starting the process and picking Olivier at 12, they can’t go wrong.

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  1. Wynand definately deserves a call up to the Boks squad.

    But I will be hard pressed to pick any other combo that Jean and Jaque if both are 100% fit.

    If not Jean then definately Wynand.

    An interesting experiment would be Wynand at 12 with Jean at 13, but again, not at the expense of Jaque or Adi if both fit, that would just be unfair to both players.

  2. ja White could always pick them, but Wynand was always going to just get better as soon as he stopped passing to the linesman.

    Some nice depth at centre, tho JJ perhaps getting ahead of himself as per usual another Bulls player rated highest.

  3. He most certainly has proven himself this seasons again… and Steyn was just beginning to hit his straps at 12… before yet again being shuffled…

    RSA has zero depth problem before injuries…

  4. Question is does de Viliers have the right balance of quota selections to make up the numbers. If not then I would be hard pressed to leave out my first choice of Adi Jacobs. He’s a potential game breaker and having a good season.

  5. Reply to Predawn @ 10:48 am:

    Nope he won’t… as there is no way in hell Mujati will make the squad… and Ralepelle is not even the 6th form hooker in RSA… so that leaves him with a big conundrum wihtout being able to fill at least the required 7…

  6. Beast, Habana, JPP, Adi, deserve to be there (I’d most defintely start with Mossie though)… that leaves on Goose-step (splutter splutter) to make the 5 starters and leaves them short two in the 22…

  7. Race row hits Lions squad
    Tue, 21 Apr 2009 23:50

    The announcement of the British and Irish Lions squad to tour South Africa was accompanied by a race row after a remark by former England coach Dick Best about Delon Armitage.

    The black England back did not make the selection, but was included in a Lions XV chosen by Best as part of the build-up coverage on satellite channel, Sky Sports News.

    Asked about his choice of Armitage, Best responded: “You’ve always got to have a coloured boy in the team.”

    Sky later apologised on air for the remark and said Best had thought he was off camera.

    Piara Powar, the director of Kick It Out, an organisation which campaigns against racism in sport, commented: “Racial stereotyping affects us all, and for many of us it seems to affect the pattern of our lives from the day we are born until the day we die.

    “It may well be that Dick Best said what he said as an appreciation of what black players can bring to the game of rugby union.

    “But we should firstly knock down the idea that there is some form of quota system in place for picking players, and secondly refute the idea that one ethnic group is inherently better at sport than any other.

    “Ultimately these are dangerous profiles to paint and certainly not to be sniggered over. High-profile commentators such as Mr Best should not be inferring that such factors have an influence on the decision-making of elite class coaches such as British Lions coach Ian McGeechan.”

  8. Reply to Predawn @ 10:48 am:
    Jacobs is playing very well, he really does inject some pace onto the ball and create.

    i was very circumspect of both Adi and Beast when selected by the wee Maestro artist, but both have proved themselves.

  9. he is probably the best passer of the rugby ball amongst the midfielders currently playing.
    Only because the linesmen are
    better receivers than they
    used to be.


  10. Reply to cab @ 11:48 am:

    Fourie is the world’s best 13 with Mortlock and Bod…

    He has pace, the step, the offload, the defence, and the much needed extra fetching skills in the midfield… a must start…