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Something to look forward to: Props

Written by Richard Ferguson (Richard Ferguson)

Posted in :Original Content, Springboks, The Rugby Championship on 10 Jun 2015 at 07:52
Tagged with : , , , , , , , , , , , ,

With the Super Rugby season heading into the business end, and the Sharks’ season being over around the half way stage already, my mind has wondered to the big event coming later this year. And no, I am not talking about the Currie Cup where all our majestic youngsters will be put on stage.

With all the rugby being played nowadays and there being a general feeling of enough is enough by the time we reach April, there is still something special about a World Cup. It only comes around once in four years and that wait to see all the World’s top teams in action is something to savour and personally, it still gets me excited.

It is still early days, but now is the perfect time to look at which players should go along to the World Cup and who might stay behind. Yes, there might still be a Rugby Championship to play out, but not every single player available will be taking part in this event, like they are now during Super Rugby. So while the form is still fresh in our minds, it is easier to speculate.

I will be doing a series of articles looking at specific positions and the players that make up the selection group, and from there, we can start making our case for our favourite players. Let’s start up front, with the big boys.

The Springboks have not always been in the position to say they have good quality depth in the front row, especially at tighthead. But this year, things seem a little different. It is at loose head that the Springboks seem to have the least amount of form options.

The smart money will be on Tendai Mtawarira and Jannie du Plessis to start most games during the Rugby Championship and as a result be first choice come the World Cup, but recent form and the good showing of others may put that into doubt.

Steven Kitshoff must surely be pushing hard at the ankles of the Beast to get the nod, while the Beast has not been particularly great this year to date (and not for the last few seasons actually). Looking further than those two, you are hard pressed to find a stand out performer to date. Coenie Oosthuizen is always an option, and hopefully with the tightheads coming through the year, his little experiment on the other side of the scrum is a thing of the past.

Similarly, Jannie du Plessis has seen the effect of playing 80 minutes a weekend for two years, with the other Sharks front rower hardly being seen as the country’s best. On this side of the scrum though, there is more than one player pushing for selection.

Both Julian Redelinghuys and Frans Malherbe have had good seasons to date, with the front rows of the Stormers and Lions being the form trio’s of the Super season. Both have made their international debuts under Heyneke Meyer, so both stand an equal chance of making the grade. Trevor Nyakane is another option, even though he has had a rough time with coach Meyer. He has shown moments for Bulls where you can see why is was so highly rated at one stage. Whether he has done enough to warrant a place in the squad before the others mentioned, remains to be seen.

I can write chapters on each of the younger props coming through and why they should get their chance, but the fact of the matter is that this is a World Cup, and that somewhere along the line, experience counts. Yes we should reward good form with a call up to the National squad, and yes, we should get these guys in the system before we lose to them to greener pastures. But do we simply drop stalwarts of the Springbok front row for the last four years. Do we shove Kitshoff and Malherbe into the cauldron with Ben Franks and Wyatt Crockett and hope they come through with their reputations intact. These are all things our dear coach must be considering at this stage already, and as much as I enjoy playing predictor here, I would not want to pick this World Cup squad for any money in the world.


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