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Mixed feelings over Bok squad

Written by Richard Ferguson (Richard Ferguson)

Posted in :Original Content, Springboks, The Rugby Championship on 5 Aug 2013 at 09:45
Tagged with : , , , , , , , , ,

Heyneke Meyer named his Rugby Championship squad over the weekend with mixed feelings being the only way to describe his latest squad. While I can say that I am happy with the inclusion of certain players, some omissions boggle the mind.

Let’s start off by putting the fact out there that one third of this squad is made up of overseas based players. What this means is that players within South Africa will have no qualms leaving the country, as they are sure to still be within the National selectors’ plans when Springbok squads are announced. While my feelings on this are both positive and negative, I can see the negative outweighing any positive impact this may have.

The only factor that was keeping top class South African rugby players in South Africa, was the lure of playing for the national team. The lure of greater foreign exchange rates has meant that South Africa has already lost a host of fringe players to other countries. And now, we may face a massive exodus of more players as their international aspirations will not be affected.

The above can be debated at length, so I will leave it at that for now.

Two inclusions in the Springbok squad have caused the greatest stir, and it is not Duane Vermeulen’s inclusion that I am talking about. It is the fact the Heyneke Meyer has called up Fourie du Preez and Guthro Steenkamp. Both these players won World Cup medals back in 2007, and while they may still add something to the current Bok setup, they have not been involved in any squad or training camp in the last few years. I am questioning the impact these out of the loop players will have within the squad, as senior members, if they have not been around in so long.

While I am all for including experienced players to guide the younger players in a squad like this, the fact that there are very few younger players in the squad to guide leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I understand that South Africa is currently experiencing a lean patch at scrumhalf, and while we are yet to see the fitness and impact Fourie du Preez will be able to add, I wonder if his inclusion, at this stage, is not a step too far for him. I will watch his progress with great interest.

Moving onto some of the other player inclusions – Jean Deysel’s name is a glaring omission in my mind. Not only has Deysel been one of the form players for the Sharks in recent months, he has completely outplayed Marcell Coetzee, who finds himself in the squad. Then there is the omission of Lwazi Mvovo, another player who can feel hard done by. These exclusions do count in the Sharks’ favour when it comes it comes to the Currie Cup starting this weekend.

These players mentioned above can rightly feel hard done by, but the players who are in the squad are mostly there on merit. The consistency from the previous national squad is a positive and I feel like the Springboks might be able to take some momentum into this Rugby Championship. There are some exciting combinations building within the current setup, and I am excited to see Duane Vermeulen finally getting his chance, all in all, probably the most balanced squad we have selected for the Rugby Championship / Tri Nations in a while.

While I do not have high expectations for the Springbok season ahead, at least we can look forward to some interesting selections and combinations, and hopefully, a springboard for the team heading into the last 18 months of building before the next World Cup.


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