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With so much happening at the Olympics in London and Graeme Smith’s cricketers doing well in Leeds, it’s difficult to get excited about rugby at the moment.
And who could have thought that today’s Super Rugby final involving the Sharks would be bumped off the back pages this week.
Sport’s a funny old thing sometimes – one day you’re up, the next you’re not.
Attention, though, will slowly start shifting back to the rugby players late next week as the London Games wind down and the Springboks start preparing for their first Rugby Championship match of the year – against Argentina.
Not only does the old Tri-Nations have a new name in 2012 – a fairly daft one at that – but the men from South America will also finally get a chance to show what they’re made of in a competition that matters. We’re not counting the World Cup because that’s a tournament, not a competition.
And first up for the Boks will be the Pumas in Cape Town in two weeks’ time.
Coach Heyneke Meyer will name a 30-man squad today and is not likely to move too far away from the players who did duty for him in his first series in charge, against England in June. With little time to prepare for battle, he did well to win the three-match series 2-0 and will have been pleased with what he saw.
Now, Meyer will be more settled in his position and know what to expect from his players. Picking a squad now, will be easier than it was in June, but he’ll still have to do without several key players, among them Schalk Burger, Juan Smith, Jaque Fourie, Coenie Oosthuizen and possibly Johan Goosen.
But one headache in June – the captaincy – has fortunately been dealt with and the emergence of Jean de Villiers as national skipper has been a revelation. De Villiers led the team well and is sure to be a key man in the coming weeks for the Boks. It is just hoped he and his fellow Stormers players will get over their Super Rugby disappointment as quickly as possible. There are not likely to be too many surprises in Meyer’s squad, but Andries Bekker is set to return to the Bok fold after sitting out earlier this year because of injury, while Siya Kolisi could also find himself in the mix this time.
Players perhaps in danger of missing out are Pierre Spies and maybe even Morné Steyn – but that is only if Meyer is prepared to gamble with Elton Jantjies or Pat Lambie at No 10 or bring in Peter Grant. Wynand Olivier’s days in a Bok jersey, however, are over.
Backs: Zane Kirchner, Pat Lambie, JP Pietersen, Bryan Habana, Lwazi Mvovo, Jean de Villiers, Frans Steyn, Juan de Jongh, Morné Steyn, Elton Jantjies, Francois Hougaard, Jano Vermaak
Forwards: Jannie du Plessis, Werner Kruger, Beast Mtawarira, Dean Greyling, Bismarck du Plessis, Andries Strauss, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Andries Bekker, Eben Etzebeth, Juandré Kruger, Flip van der Merwe, Marcell Coetzee, Willem Alberts, Keegan Daniel, Ryan Kankowski, Siya Kolisi, Heinrich Brussow, Jacques Potgieter.