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Where have all the Springboks gone?

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Bulls, Original Content, Sharks, Super Rugby on 22 Feb 2012 at 09:00
Tagged with : ,

In years gone by, we’ve become quite used to Bulls-Sharks derbies – at least in Super Rugby guise – being contested by two match day squads each chock-full of internationals. In fact, it’s fair to say that over the past few campaigns, you’ve generally had to look pretty hard in order to find more than half a dozen players, across both sides, yet to be capped at national level at least a few times.

This, however, is 2012. It’s a post-World Cup year and there’s been something of a “clearing of the decks” across the board. Never before have we seen quite so many uncapped players – either at Springbok or even Super Rugby level – named to do battle in the annual Loftus spectacle.

Strangely enough (given that the Bulls have lost more players, numerically) it’s the home side who shade both the total number of capped Boks in the lineup (10, against the Sharks 9) and total number of caps across the squad (168 to the Sharks 153) which to my mind indicates the predominance of Bulls representatives in Springbok teams picked over the last few years, while also giving the lie to talk that they have “lost all their Boks” or words to the effect. These numbers, though, exclude the 50 French international caps picked up by Fred Michalak, which would swing matters the Sharks way if counted.

Amongst the forwards, the Sharks have fewer capped players (four), but more overall caps (92). Bismarck (42) and Jannie du Plessis (30) contribute the lion’s share, although Ryan Kankowski (19) has played a good few himself. Keegan Daniel has a single cap, while there are four uncapped forwards in the Sharks run-on team and another four on the bench. This is, in short the most inexperienced forward pack the Sharks have selected for a Super Rugby game in quite some time. For the Bulls, it’s only Jacques Potgieter and Juandre Kruger who have yet to be capped for the Boks (strangely enough, both players are making Super Rugby debuts as well) with Pierre Spies (47) and Chilliboy Ralepelle (20) contributing the bulk of their 88 caps up-front. Props Dean Greyling and Werner Kruger have a pair of Bok caps each, with Flip van der Merwe boasting 11 and Deon Stegmann six. Like the Sharks, the Bulls forward bench is devoid of international players.

The Bulls backline, though, looks a far more experienced unit than that of the Sharks, though, with halfbacks Francois Hougaard (15) and Morne Steyn (34) contributing handsomely to their tally of 80. Steyn, in fact, is the most experienced Bok in either side, although again he falls a little short of the mark set by Michalak. The other capped players in the blue back line are wings Bjorn Basson (six) and Akona Ndungane (11), with Zane Kirchner having played an incredible-seeming 14 times for the Boks as well .It’s only the Bulls centres who boast nary a Bok cap (and only seven Super Rugby caps, all for the Stormers) between them. For the Sharks, it’s even worse; only three capped Springboks have been named in the starting seven and JP Pietersen’s 42 appearances are all there really is to write home about in a total of 57. Pat Lambie has played for the Boks 11 times, and Lwazi Mvovo just four.

While it may not seem like much, the Sharks do have two capped players on their backline replacement list, with Charl McLeod (one) and Meyer Bosman (three) at least having tasted test rugby.


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