There have been 33 players chosen in this squad. If you think 2 players for each position amounts to 30 players and maybe a back-up scrumhalf, flyhalf and tighthead prop could be a sensible selection process then this squad makes no sense.
There is only 1 left wing chosen in Bryan Habana, only 1 inside centre in Damian de Allende and only 1 eighthman chosen in Warren Whiteley yet there are 3 right wings in this squad in Ruan Combrinck, Seargal Pietersen and JP Pietersen, 3 outside centres in Jessie Kriel, Lionel Mapoe and Francois Venter and 3 blindside flanks in Willem Alberts, Jen-Luc du Preez and Teboho Mohoje. Alberts has played at 8 before.
Why has AC only chosen 1 player in these 3 positions? Now that Duane Vermeulen is out the picture, is Whiteley a certainty at 8? Is he so reliable that you wouldn’t even think of taking another eigthman in case he gets injured? If Habana is the only left wing in the squad, does that mean AC is happy that Habana will hold the left wing position untill the 2019 RWC? Damian de Allende must be the guy that AC has settled on as Springbok inside centre? A question regarding de Allende’s inclusion in this squad is by what criteria is a player like de Allende judged upon to be selected?
To add confusion to the backline selections is that Jesse Kriel first impressed at fullback for the Bulls in 2015 but got moved by Heyneke Meyer to outside centre where AC has continued to select him. Johan Goosen has been playing at outside centre for his club in France but made his debut for the Boks at Flyhalf and of late has been playing at fullback for the Boks. Pat Lambie started at fullback in his last test before moving to flyhalf. Willie le Roux has been tried on the wing and there has even been talk of trying him at flyhalf of course his usual position is fullback.
Elton Jantjies has not fitted into AC’s Domkrag gameplan and has looked less than average. He was dropped right out of the matchday squad for the last two tests of the Championship yet we find him in this squad along with AC’s preferred choice at flyhalf Pat Lambie and of course Johan Goosen also having experience of playing in this position for the Boks. Who will start? Who will drop out? Is this decided by flipping a coin?
Julian Redlinghuys suffered a scary injury to his neck and after being operated on is now in recovery. Julian is in my mind the best scrumming tighthead currently playing in SA. Not only is he the best scrumming tighthead but he is the best around the park too. Unfortunately he is out, recovering from his neck injury. The number one thing I would look at as a rugby coach when selecting my tighthead prop would be if he is a good scrummager. Vincent Koch I believe is in the process of learning his trade but is far from being accomplished. Just over a year ago he got a scrumming lesson from Marcus Ayerza (the Pumas loosehead prop), a painful lesson I’m sure it was. Everytime that Jannie du Plessis comes up against a decent scrumming loosehead prop then the scrum starts collapsing and of course it is never his fault, nor are all the yellow cards he receives nor are all the penalties he gives away. Matthew Proudfoot is the forwards coach of the Boks, what the hell is he looking at with these players? Lourens Adriaanse is a better scrummager than Koch or du Plessis. Why is he only in the Baabaa’s squad and not the test squad?
What’s the thinking behind choosing an ageing tighthead prop like Jannie du Plessis who could never establish himself as able at international level? Will he make it to the 2019 RWC? How come a player can go overseas and because we haven’t seen them for a while everyone forgets what an incapable performer that player is? Flip van der Merwe and Morne Steyn being two good examples of this strange mentality.
Jaco Kriel impressed in the 2015 Superugby competition then carried his form on where he led the Golden Lions to Currie Cup success in 2015 then in the Super 18 of 2016 he was one of the standout players of the whole tournament. He was over the moon when he realised his dream of being selected for the Boks but he had to play second fiddle to the out of form Francois Louw. Roelof Smit may have been on Bulls supporters minds for a while but he has risen to prominence only in the last few games of the Currie Cup. Smit may end up getting that openside position ahead of Kriel now. Has Kriel been managed well?
After the ‘Indaba’ we were meant to see positive changes but I don’t see anything positive. Franco Smith has been a great coach for the Cheetahs and his good judgement may have been overridden by his desire to be part of the Springbok set-up. For goodness sake he is assisting an assistant coach. The circus continues.