Who will Meyer pick as captain?

2012-04-28 18:30

It is a hallowed position only 13 players have achieved since readmission in 1992, with John Smit being at the helm the longest after 83 matches as skipper.

But Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer has wisely opted to pick his captain on the eve of the first Test against England at King’s Park in June, thereby avoiding the folly former coach Pieter de Villiers made by picking a captain early, irrespective of form through the season.

However, with Stormers’ captain Schalk Burger injured and his progress being kept under wraps, here are likely contenders to become the 53rd Springbok captain:

Pierre Spies (Bulls): The number eight was picked as Bulls captain by Meyer and with the latter now heading the Boks, Spies holds the inside lane.

His performances in the green-and-gold jersey have been underwhelming in the past year and a half.

Even at the Bulls, he has not performed adequately, with his poor performance against the Brumbies last week showing how far his stocks have fallen.

Spies 47 Test caps makes him the most experienced loose-forward in the absence of Burger and Juan Smith.

The latter is out due to an Achille’s tendon injury that saw him miss last year’s World Cup.

Jean de Villiers (Stormers): If De Villiers’ leadership skills have been in doubt, the way the Stormers have played under him this season have put those demons to bed.

The Stormers have not made try-scoring a priority but their defensive exploits were central to them being stingy. He is the best player in his inside centre position and has no obvious pretenders to his throne.

At 31, he does not look like a long-term captaincy prospect, but his marshalling of the young Stormers’ side, allied to excellent defensive structure and attacking play could help the Bok backline create space out wide, something they struggled to do last year.

Chilliboy Ralepelle (Bulls): The Pretoria Boys High product has lived up to the promise he showed in age-group rugby over the past 18 months. He has been injury-free and his ownership of the number two saw Gary Botha leaving the team.

However, Sharks hooker Bismarck du Plessis stands between him and the Bok number two jersey and the past two years were a typical example of a player being picked as captain while not being the best player.

Unlike Du Plessis, Ralepelle hardly gets on the referees bad books and in sharing a similar playing style to his Sharks counterpart, it could boil down to who is the form player come selection time.

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