JOHANNESBURG - He saved the Springboks with a try on debut that screamed “power, aggression and passion”. He knocks his opponents back in the tackle, and he kicks the ball a mile, with both feet. Oh, and he can play at wing and fullback. His name is Ruan Combrinck ... and he’s still not good enough for Allister Coetzee.
It was not so much the addition to the squad on Wednesday of the experienced flank Francois Louw, and the uncapped Sharks duo of scrumhalf Louis Schreuder and wing S’bu Nkosi for the home Tests against Australia and New Zealand that raised eyebrows, but the exclusion of Combrinck.
The Lions wing has again been overlooked by Coetzee for the Tests in Bloemfontein next weekend (Australia) and in Cape Town on October 7 (New Zealand), leaving many seriously questioning the decision by the national coach. Calls for Coetzee to explain his selections will hopefully be answered when the team gather in the Free State capital on Sunday.
Combrinck should be the first man picked among the outside backs; it is a no-brainer. Besides having played Super Rugby for a successful Lions team for several seasons, he took to Test rugby like a veteran last year, and has skills few others among the men Coetzee has picked have. He has size, pace and kicks strongly with both feet and can play wing and fullback ... he’s got X-factor, too, something the Boks are lacking at this stage.
Coetzee has made only one form-based change to his battered and bruised squad from the group that toured Australasia recently, and lost 57-0 to the All Blacks last Saturday, dropping No 9 Francois Hougaard and bringing in the Sharks’ Schreuder. He was in excellent form for the Kings earlier this season and has also performed well for the Sharks in the Currie Cup in recent weeks.
Hy wat geloof het sal nie hastig wees nie!
Nkosi, an exuberant 21-year-old with good hands, raw pace and power, is an additional member picked in the squad and he joins a big outside-backs group, which includes Andries Coetzee, Raymond Rhule, Courtnall Skosan and Dillyn Leyds. The latter, who went to Australasia but didn’t get a look-in, will probably be viewed by Coetzee as a Combrinck-type player; he is able to function in more than one position, he is big and strong and fast, and has some flair about him.
Louw, a Bok veteran with over 50 Tests, will boost the pack significantly, bringing with him leadership and experience. He comes in for Jaco Kriel, who has been ruled out of rugby for the next six months after hurting his shoulder.
Coenie Oosthuizen, who broke his arm against Australia, wasn’t considered, and neither was Frans Malherbe, who is also injured, meaning the Boks will again rely on rookie Test tighthead props for the forthcoming two Tests. Ruan Dreyer has struggled in his two Tests to date, Trevor Nyakane has yet to be fully tested in the No 3 jersey and Wilco Louw hasn’t even worn the green and gold yet. The WP man though is likely to get his chance against the Wallabies.
Meanwhile, regular captain Warren Whiteley, who underwent groin surgery some time ago and has missed the Boks’ last five Tests, is still recovering from the operation and is in a race against time to be fit for the November tour of Europe.
Springbok squad: Backs: Andries Coetzee, Dillyn Leyds, Raymond Rhule, Courtnall Skosan, S’bu Nkosi, Damian de Allende, Jesse Kriel, Jan Serfontein, Handre Pollard, Elton Jantjies, Ross Cronje, Rudy Paige, Louis Schreuder. Forwards: Uzair Cassiem, Dan du Preez, Jean-Luc du Preez, Siya Kolisi, Francois Louw, Franco Mostert, Lood de Jager, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Eben Etzebeth, Ruan Dreyer, Wilco Louw, Trevor Nyakane, Beast Mtawarira, Steven Kitschoff, Malcolm Marx, Bongi Mbonambi, Chiliboy Ralepelle.