We’re still seven weeks away from the Springboks’ first Test of the season against Italy in Durban and another seven weeks on top of that until the Boks play their first Rugby Championship game of the year, against Argentina, but I’m predicting 2013 is going to be a big one for Heyneke Meyer and his Boks.
And, even though we’re more than two years out from the next Rugby World Cup in England, I believe the Boks will arrive at the tournament as big favourites.
Meyer had a rocky first year in charge last season but he and his charges finished the year well with three wins in the UK and Ireland, with the coach learning a lot about a number of players and broadening his options for the years ahead.
And let’s not forget the Boks went on tour without several key players who will be back in the selection frame this year. These players will add further depth to an already overflowing pool of talent, making Meyer’s job of selecting the best 22 for match days that much more difficult, but what a position to be in.
But it wasn’t just the players who stood tall in the UK and Ireland last November, the Bok game plan also started taking on a shape. Now, in 2013, with the coaching staff settled down and having had more time to plan and prepare, it will be a case of getting the Boks playing a brand of rugby that is the envy of the rest of the rugby world. We’ve certainly got the strength and power, as well as the skills and pace to achieve it.
There is no doubt we have the best rugby players in the world ... there are literally three or four, or in some positions 10, players lining up to play in the first choice Bok XV.
Let’s just look at the midfield. Against Ireland last year Jean de Villiers lined up next to Jaco Taute. Against Scotland and England it was De Villiers and Juan de Jongh. But what about Frans Steyn ... at his best he is an outstanding player, but will there be a spot for him. What about Robert Ebersohn?
JJ Engelbrecht and Jan Serfontein – both young and dynamic, strong in attack and defence? Lionel Mapoe is an outside centre option and so, too, Raymond Rhule. Young Handré Pollard of Tukkies was brilliant in the Varsity Cup and Sharks centre Paul Jordaan is every bit as exciting as the names already mentioned. And, we haven’t even gotten to Jaque Fourie ... who’ll almost certainly make himself available for the World Cup.
I was on last year’s Bok tour of the UK and Ireland and afterwards in discussion with the other SA journalists on the trip I said the Boks would take charge of world rugby in 2013. Having seen the talent and skill on display in Super Rugby up to now there’s no reason why Meyer and his men shouldn’t start dominating the game this season. - The Star