Bok squad may surpriseComment on this story
Johan Goosen, Frans Steyn, Schalk Burger, and perhaps JP Pietersen and Jaque Fourie, too.
Could these five men be the surprise inclusions in Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer’s tour squad for next month’s Tests against Wales, Scotland and France?
Meyer will announce his squad on Monday, with all indications pointing to the coach picking a full-strength crew, meaning that captain Jean de Villiers – who has played non-stop rugby this year – will be in the group.
The Bok boss is adamant that players should not be rested at Test level. If he sticks to this view, a squad similar to that which featured in the Rugby Championship will tour next month.
But the return to fitness of flyhalf Goosen, centre Steyn and loose-forward Burger could see some changes to the touring party – and more so if World Cup winners Pietersen and Fourie are available from their Japanese clubs.
Goosen has played only a handful of minutes for the Cheetahs after spending months on the sidelines, but he was Meyer’s first-choice flyhalf a little over a year ago and has been earmarked by the Bok coach as the man to take over the No 10 jersey on a permanent basis.
Although Goosen is a prodigious talent, his lack of game time and the fact that Pat Lambie has shown good form for the Boks, off the bench, and for the Sharks in the Currie Cup, could see Meyer again opting for Lambie as his go-to guy on tour, as he did a year ago when Morné Steyn was rested.
Also, with Elton Jantjies having shown the form which made him a Bok two years ago in the Currie Cup and Demetri Catrakilis on the rise, Meyer may just decide to let Goosen stay at home and concentrate on performing well for the Cheetahs in next year’s Super Rugby competition.
Frans Steyn has also just returned from injury and although he too is an experienced campaigner who can add value to the Boks – in just about any position in the backline – Meyer may well want to see more of him in action before he gets a recall.
As for Burger, Meyer is almost sure to add him to the squad.
The physical loose forward has been eased back into the game by his Western Province coaches after a lengthy lay-off, but he has shown enough form in recent weeks to suggest he is ready for big-time rugby once again.
There is no better flank in the game when Burger is in top condition and form, and he can play anywhere in the back row. The thing is, Bok rugby is blessed with quality loose forwards at the moment.
Then there is the big debate around the two Japan-based men, Pietersen and Fourie. Both are apparently available to tour and if Meyer is to use them in the run-up to, and at, the World Cup in 2015 then perhaps it would be best to get them into the side now and as often as possible next year.
Meyer’s biggest selection dilemmas will revolve around: fullback, where Hennie Daniller could get a look-in; scrumhalf, where there is no obvious first choice behind Fourie du Preez; lock, where No 5 is still a problem; and the front row, where Lourens Adriaanse surely needs to be given an opportunity to show what he can do.
The squad will head to Europe next Saturday. - Independent on Saturday