Who will captain the Springboks to the RWC in 2015?
Jean de Villiers occupied this role in 2012 and is said to resume this role in 2013 for the sake of continuity – but indications were always that he was performing a stand-in role rather than being a permanent fixture with a new captain being prepped to lead the Boks from 2014 into the Rugby World Cup in 2015.
For all the heartache of 2011, South Africa was spoilt to have an outstanding leader in John Smit for eight years which is probably why it is so difficult to identify a clear replacement for the Springboks.
The names of Schalk Burger and Pierre Spies was mentioned at times, but with Burger plagued by injuries in the last two years and Spies’ poor form in 2012 which saw Duane Vermeulen take ownership of the number eight jersey, candidates seem few and far between.
A coach will always pick a captain he trusts and feels comfortable with – an extension of himself on the field, and while he might have that in Spies from a personal point of view and his years involved at the Bulls before he became national coach, the player’s form doesn’t justify this.
There is another player Meyer rates quite highly and always did even at his years at the Bulls – a player whose loss he lamented when he decided to leave the Bulls and join the Cheetahs and a player and captain who has led his team with distinction in Super Rugby in the last couple of seasons – I am of course referring to Adriaan Strauss.
Judged solely on his form and leadership skills, there aren’t many folks that will argue Strauss’ contributions or value, but it is when we consider who is up against for the number two jersey in the Bok team when things become a bit complicated.
It has been argued that in the last two seasons of John Smit’s career that Bismarck was by far the better player, some even suggesting the best in the world. It was however the importance placed on John’s leadership which saw Bismarck not only play second fiddle to Smit at the Boks, but also the Sharks.
Currently, everything is going for Adriaan. He seems to be in the form of his life, he is leading the Cheetahs team with distinction enjoying their best year in Super Rugby history, and of course, there is no Bismarck to compare him against given the fact that the latter is injured.
It is almost too cruel to imagine that Bismarck might just find himself in the same position he was in when John Smit was around, playing second fiddle to someone who is currently arguably the best candidate to lead the Boks from 2014 beyond, Adriaan Strauss. But with very few candidates putting up their hands to take over from Jean de Villiers from 2014, this might well be the case.