We were all fooled in the end… well, sort of. But it has taught us, once again, to not predict, or expect, anything when it comes to Springbok rugby. Especially a team announcement.
Just when it appeared Fourie du Preez was to be named Springbok captain, coach Heyneke Meyer up and omits his name from the 32-man squad, announced on Saturday.
Du Preez, up until Friday last week, I believe, was set to be Meyer’s leader for the series against England, but a change of heart on the part of Japan-based Du Preez meant Meyer announced his squad on Saturday minus a captain.
It came as a surprise to everyone, but I believe Du Preez has got it spot-on. He has made the right decision and he deserves a pat on the back for it.
Not too many players, when given the chance to play for the Boks, never mind captaining them, would tell the coach he’s not up to the job.
Du Preez knows he’s a brilliant player who everyone respects and looks up to, but he also seems to know when it’s time to move on.
As much as he might want to play for the Boks again and even captain them, his choice to step aside for the younger generation and a player as talented as Francois Hougaard is proof that Du Preez has the Boks’ best interests at heart and not his own.
The Boks will be fine without Du Preez and also Victor Matfield, who was seemingly Meyer’s first option to lead the side before IRB rules scuppered his plans of coming out of retirement.
There are more than enough quality players – experienced and not – in South Africa for Meyer to put together a formidable Test side. The leadership issue, too, will be resolved, more so when the likes of Schalk Burger, Andries Bekker and Juan Smith return to the fold.
Even if they don’t, which is unlikely, we should view this year as a new beginning, with new players, leaders, coaches and playing styles, and forget about the past.
Meyer has already come under fire for picking just three Stormers players, but if he wins the series against England does it matter who played? Is provincialism still such a factor in Bok rugby?
There will always be the unlucky ones – in my opinion Juan de Jongh and Siya Kolisi are the most unfortunate – but it doesn’t mean the Boks will be worse off without them.
Let’s see Meyer’s team in action first, over the whole series, before judging him.