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Who will feature in the front row?

Written by Richard Ferguson (Richard Ferguson)

Posted in :End of Year Tour, Original Content, Springboks on 5 Nov 2013 at 08:00
Tagged with : , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer is set to name his team to take on Wales in the next day or so, and there are a few key decisions that he has to make before then.

Meyer seems to be in line to name some experimental combinations with an eye on the World Cup in 2015, which is taking place in England. This then is the ideal time to see if certain individuals perform well in the conditions we can expect in two years’ time. Meyer has gone as far as saying that this tour is not about winning every match, but rather testing some players to see if they have what it takes to be with the Springbok squad come 2015.

With that in mind, and with news last week that Jannie du Plessis is not on tour with the team, the big question in my mind is: Who will be wearing the number 3 jersey this weekend?

Simply put, there are only three players who are in line, the hard part is knowing what Heyneke is thinking. The three players I am referring to are Coenie Oosthuizen, Frans Malherbe and Lourens Adriaanse.

I suspect Coenie Oosthuizen’s inclusion in that trio will spark some debate, as he is actually a loosehead, even though we have seen him tested in recent times as a tighthead replacement. Taking into account the above comments from the coach, do we then simply assume that Coenie will start at tighthead, as a trial run? This while two genuine tightheads sit in the stands and wait their turn?

Frans Malherbe was in the original squad set to tour, whether he was set to play second fiddle to Jannie du Plessis or just as a third tighthead behind Coenie, we cannot say. His inclusion above that of Adriaanse, who was a late replacement, should indicate that he is more fancied than the Sharks-bound prop.

In essence, I would then have to say that the battle for the tighthead starting jersey is between these two men, and it will interesting viewing no matter who Meyer selects. If Coenie does in fact get the nod, and fails to make an impression, whether he will then become available to play at the loosehead side, ahead of Guthro Steenkamp? For Malherbe, it will be his first start in a few months, as he has been limited to time off the bench for Western Province during the Currie Cup.

The other selection that is not quite set in stone is that of hooker. We know Meyer likes to rotate Adriaan Strauss and Bismarck du Plessis, so seeing as Bsmiarck started the last test match, against the All Blacks, is it now the turn of Strauss to start against Wales? It will be interesting to see if Scarra Ntubeni even gets a look in here, but I cannot see one of either Bismarck or Strauss agreeing to sit out a weekend.

If I could select my own front row to start against Wales, I would go for 1. Beast Mtawarira, 2. Bismarck du Plessis, 3. Frans Malherbe, but we all know that Heyneke Meyer has a mind of his own, and we are sure to be surprised come team announcement time.


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