Players in fight for Bok spots
THE outcome of a crunch match against the Sharks at Kings Park will determine whether the Stormers stay out in front in the race for the Super Rugby title, but there is another layer to the much-anticipated South African derby that could turn up the heat in Durban on Saturday night.
Heyneke Meyer’s term as the new Springbok coach will become a reality when South Africa host England in a three-match Test series that begins in Durban on June 9.
That match marks the first time the Boks will run out since stalwarts Fourie du Preez, Bakkies Botha, Danie Rossouw, Jacque Fourie, John Smit and Victor Matfield have retired or, in some cases, put their international careers on hold.
A new generation will begin vying for the right to succeed these 2007 World Cup winners, and exactly who will have the first crack at doing that may well be decided on Saturday.
“Our next two games (against the Sharks and Bulls) have definitely been billed as Bok trials,” said Stormers attack coach Robbie Fleck.
“Heyneke might have a pretty good idea who he wants in his camp, but there’ll be a few positions he hasn’t decided on yet.”
Meyer is expected to make his first team announcement immediately after the Stormers visit Loftus next week, which means that the Bok coach will in all likelihood pay particular attention to this week’s round of matches.
“There’s no doubt that Heyneke won’t be changing too much in his last week before the announcement,” added Fleck.
A Bok midfield partnership of Frans Steyn and Jean de Villiers has been mooted by many pundits, but Stormers centre Juan de Jongh will be determined to prove that he is the rightful heir to Fourie’s No 13 jersey.
Dewaldt Duvenage and Sharks counterpart Charl McLeod will trade passes and kicks in an effort to prove they’re capable of backing up Bok scrumhalf favourite Francois Hougaard, Bryan Habana will have to beat off Sharks flyer Lwazi Mvovo in the race to start on the left wing while a clutch of Stormers youngsters like Siya Kolisi, Eben Etzebeth, Steven Kitshoff and Frans Malherbe will be out to stake their first claims to Bok colours.
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