at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
Johannesburg - Breaking into a settled Springbok squad isn’t easy. And it becomes more difficult when so many senior and experienced men move abroad yet still get picked ahead of those playing in South Africa.
From what we’ve seen in this year’s Super Rugby competition, not too many men playing in South Africa have stuck up their hands for selection in the coming months. A few players who’ve been part of the Bok squad before, men like Lwazi Mvovo and Heinrich Brüssow, could feature again, but when it comes to newcomers, players who’ve not donned the green and gold before, there’s not that much to pick from.
So, who are the men who’ve stuck up their hands for consideration? Head coach Heyneke Meyer names his first training group in about a week’s time and one’s got to wonder whether he’ll include some stand out performers for the first time.
At the Bulls, lock Paul Willemse has done well and when you consider there are not too many quality locks going around, he could easily feature in the June Tests. Flank-cum-lock Jacques du Plessis has been industrious and is a big worker off the ball, while fullback Jurgen Visser is certainly an option going forward.
The Sharks are packed with Bok players, but someone like the uncapped Sibusiso Sithole has shown he has a bright future ahead of him, be it on the wing or in the midfield. Paul Jordaan and SP Marais also have bright futures, while Charl McLeod, because of the dearth of possibilities at scrumhalf, may be closer to a Bok Test cap than he thinks.
Lock Lodewyk de Jager (Cheetahs) has also been pushing hard for Bok inclusion for two years now and could get his chance next month.
The Lions, despite their dip in form recently, have played some quality rugby at times, but it’s been the performances of captain and No8 Warren Whiteley and prop Julian Redelinghuys that have been most pleasing. Whiteley especially, despite his light frame, is an excellent line-out man and adds pace and skill to the loose-trio. If Meyer is to consider someone who offers something different, he need look no further than Whiteley.
Injuries have hurt the Stormers big time this season, but in Damian de Allende they’ve still produced a powerful back, who could be in line for higher honours. The youngster has shown over two years now he is the real deal, be it in midfield or on the wing. If De Allende were a New Zealander he’d be in the All Blacks squad. Scarra Ntubeni, when he’s full fit, is surely the next best hooker behind Bismarck du Plessis and Adriaan Strauss.
Once again it’s time to see who Meyer believes can add value to the Boks and take them to another level.