SA’s forgotten Springbok

2014-11-01 00:00

DESPITE being fully fit, Bulls centre JJ Engelbrecht is the only contracted Springbok left out of Heyneke Meyer’s squad for the year-end tour to Europe.

Willem Alberts, Siya Kolisi and Flip van der Merwe were contracted players not considered for the tour due to injury, but Engelbrecht has been left out due to a dip in form.

After the heights of 2013, when he played 11 Tests for the Springboks, Engelbrecht endured an indifferent start to the year when he produced below-par performances for the Bulls in Super Rugby. He was subsequently not picked for any Tests in 2014, despite gaining a national contract following a successful 2013.

However, Engelbrecht started regaining some of the form that made him a Springbok when he slowly found his feet for the Bulls during this year’s Currie Cup, only for a silly ruling that prevented him from playing for the Bulls at the tail-end of the competition.

The 25-year-old played a part in the Bulls’ resurgence towards the end of the competition, when the Pretoria side snuck in at the back door to make the semi-finals. However, with the Rugby Championship concluding on the first weekend of October, Engelbrecht was not allowed to play in the Bulls’ last round-robin match against Griquas the following week, as well as their semi-final clash against WP at Newlands, which they lost 31-23.

Perhaps those last two games, especially the knockout one at Newlands, were just the right opportunity for Engelbrecht to build some more confidence and again catch the eye of Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.

But he was not allowed to play because of Saru’s policy that no contracted Springboks were allowed to play in the latter rounds of Currie Cup following the conclusion of the Boks’ Rugby Championship campaign.

The Bulls also had injury worries in midfield, with Burger Odendaal unable to face WP in the semis, which saw coach Frans Ludeke play Handré Pollard in the No 12 jersey — a move that eventually backfired.

What was ironic was that Pollard — who featured regularly during the Rugby Championship — was allowed to play Currie Cup because he was not a contracted Springbok, but Engelbrecht had to attend a training camp with the Boks in Stellenbosch instead.

Getting game time in the pressure-cooker environment of a Currie Cup semi-final would have done Engelbrecht the world of good.

He attended the training camp in Stellenbosch, but was again left out of the final Bok touring party for the tour to Europe. The Boks somehow opted to take four flyhalves along and only three centres — Jean de Villiers, Jan Serfontein and Damian de Allende.

I’m not saying Engelbrecht should have been picked for the year-end tour (WP’s Juan de Jongh was the Currie Cup’s standout centre), but playing in the latter rounds of the Currie Cup could have helped his cause. Now he must wait until next year’s Super Rugby competition before playing another competitive game.

Another example is that of De Allende — who had featured minimally during the Rugby Championship and could also have benefited with game time for WP in the Currie Cup. A knee injury forced him to miss the tail-end of the Super Rugby competition as well as the Springboks’ games against the World XV, Wales and Scotland in June.

Since then, the only rugby De Allende has played was two Tests against Argentina in August.

It’s understandably a tough scenario for Saru and the unions to negotiate on, and while Saru have done the right thing by keeping the Boks out of Currie Cup, surely in the case of some players needing game time, a compromise should be made with the unions. It would be for the greater good of Springbok rugby.

The Springboks will play Tests against Ireland (Dublin, November 8), England (London, November 15), Italy (Padova, November 22) and Wales (Cardiff, November 29).

Contracted Springboks

Willem Alberts, Marcell Coetzee, Damian de Allende, Jean de Villiers, Bismarck du Plessis, Jannie du Plessis, JJ Engelbrecht, Eben Etzebeth, Cornal Hendricks, Francois Hougaard, Siya Kolisi, Patrick Lambie, Willie le Roux, Victor Matfield, Tendai Mtawarira, Coenie Oosthuizen, Jan Serfontein, Adriaan Strauss, Flip van der Merwe, Duane Vermeulen

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.