By: Benedict Chanakira
The Springbok squad for the first five games of the year was announced. The journey to a spot on the plane come 11 September has begun for the select few.
A couple players have been cut from the five Super Rugby squads to the current 49 players. Not all fans will ever agree or be happy with a springbok squad so it’s nothing new for all of us to make rumblings and noises.
There are five games only for the squad to prepare before they venture off to England to try win a third World Cup. The selection of the entire Stormers front row is cause for celebration considering their mastery and dominance in all acts of the tight. Their scrum was unmatched and any of the props will do the job with aplomb.
Shocks where on the cards and Meyer managed to ignore the form of Jaco Kriel, Ruan Combrinck and Francois Hougaard who played well in the Super Rugby compared to some players that got the nod.
Like every coach Meyer will be judged solely by his picks and it’s to be seen how he fares come the end of the Rugby World Cup. It is quite a surprise to see the multi-dimensional, explosive and quick Jaco Kriel missing.
He is possibly the biggest shock considering he was up there as one of the best loose forwards not just in South Africa but also in the entire competition. While many may argue if he was better than the current incumbents, he was well ahead of them: Willem Alberts, Teboho Mahoje, Marcel Coetzee, and Heinrich Brussow.
Who would I sacrifice? Mahoje, Brussow, Coetzee or Kolisi could find themselves omitted just so the Kriel-factor is involved.
Why? Kriel topped the turnover count in the country and third in the competition, a competent tackler and when in possession of the ball in hand has managed to make some serious yardage. It is a pity such a player is surplus to requirements in the South African squad. We take reputation over form, this is something that can kill a side. It has seen some notable omission in the form of Pierre Spies who has been dumped by the Blue Bulls and South Africa.
His omission is understandable and he will be the first to admit he was well below the acceptable level. The career of the man never managed to last long with so much potential falling flat.
Hougaard was the top scoring South African back, showing his finishing prowess and his evasive work. He was stuck on the wing after it was discovered that he was never much of a half-back.
This also saw another in form winger Combrinck miss the cut for the squad. One has to wonder what the thinking was in this selection. An article in the SA Rugby magazine in April 2010 written by Ryan Vrede who was of the thought that the colour of then Blue Bulls winger Gerhard van den Heever could hinder getting higher honours.
Maybe time will tell if such a thought has been in the selectors’ minds. One would have to think even if Kriel and Ruan are not good enough to go to England a spot in the squad as a reward would have sufficed to the men at least.
The notable recall of veterans; Zane Kirchner and Morne Steyn are very much the assurance players that will give a solid display but not provide any dazzling work.
With Morne, I am particularly happy with his selection. After a bizarre start to his Stade François career which included public criticism from the cub officials he managed to step up and lead the side to glory. He is also the most consistent kicker of the ball in the squad considering the other 10’s are a bit inconsistent.
Credit to the rewarding of Faf de Klerk and Elton Jantjes who managed to step up and show their class in a tough competition.
Now that we have rumbled about the squad, whichever XV will be selected for the 11th of July clash will also cause a stir.