Those who missed Meyer's first Bok squad of the season

2013-04-13 00:00

IT’S always fun to see the first Bok squad of the year. One, because we get a first look at the coach’s thinking, and two, because it means the international season is fast approaching.

And while the Boks and certain selections might drive us to beer, seeing the manne emerge from the tunnel in green and gold for the first time is always a special moment.

This year it will be at King’s Park against the Italians on June 8 in the first of a quadrangular, including the Scots and Samoans.

There are no surprises likely. Heyneke Meyer remains conservative, opting mainly for continuity rather than form shown in Super Rugby, as that is the type of coach and selector he is. And I do not see him changing anytime soon, as that is how he achieved success with the Bulls.

No Bok team or squad will ever please everyone, hence the pressure of the job as turnips like you and me pick holes in these selections each week. I will back the selected 22 every Saturday, but half the fun of being a rugby-mad country is believing we could do a better job than the coach!

So then ...

The selection of Pieter-Steph du Toit, Jan Serfontein and Robert Ebersohn is exciting, and I love the fact that Handré Pollard was also considered for the camp, but rather given the opportunity to tour Argentina with the Baby Boks. That is the future of Springbok rugby right there, and it’s very exciting.

Crazy omissions in my book are Heinrich Brüsow, Willie le Roux and Wiehahn Herbst, and I think Gio Aplon, Philip van der Walt and Trevor Nyakane can count themselves unlucky.

Quite clearly Zane Kirchner can do no wrong in the eyes of the coach, while Brüssow can do no right. If you want a safe fullback, pick Frans Steyn, not Kirchner. But the future has to be guys like Le Roux and Aplon who can unlock defences with speed, skill and guile. Yet we all know Meyer’s obsession with size.

Francois Louw will no doubt come into the frame as the fetcher. The obvious backup, or contender, is Brüssow, who has played a key part in the Cheetahs’ phenomenal success this year. Meyer says he gives away too many penalties.

Of concern is the form of Jannie du Plessis. To my mind, the obvious player of 2012, but through too much rugby or a focus on fatherhood, his form has deserted him in Super Rugby this year. Neither Pat Cilliers nor Frans Malherbe has impressed this year, with the Stormers’ scrum being very iffy. Without doubt, the form tighthead in Super Rugby has been Herbst, and he should be being groomed to take over from Du Plessis.

Another player high up on Meyer’s dead certs list is Coenie Oosthuizen, but Nyakane has been playing ahead of him for the Cheetahs.

JC Janse van Rensberg is clearly feeling the wrath of the Lions time in the rugby wilderness, while Van der Walt and the Kings’ Jacques Engelbrecht have arguably been the form eighth men of the tournament.

The Kings players were not considered for this camp, but will be in contention for the second training camp at the end of May. But realistically, only flyhalf Demitri Catrakilis and Engelbrecht might contend for a Bok spot, and both would be long shots.

You can’t please everyone and it’s too early in the season to be making too many judgment calls.

Players invited to the first Springbok training camp:

Forwards: Tendai Mtawarira, Jannie du Plessis, Frans Malherbe, Coenie Oosthuizen, Pat Cilliers, Adriaan Strauss, Bismarck du Plessis, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Eben Etzebeth, Flip van der Merwe, Juandré Kruger, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Franco van der Merwe, Siya Kolisi, Marcell Coetzee, Willem Alberts, Arno Botha, Duane Vermeulen, Pierre Spies, Ryan Kankowski

Backs: Jano Vermaak, Francois Hougaard, Pat Lambie, Morné Steyn, Elton Jantjies, Jean de Villiers, Frans Steyn, Juan de Jongh, Jan Serfontein, Robert Ebersohn, Bryan Habana, Lwazi Mvovo, Raymond Rhule, JP Pietersen, Bjorn Basson, Zane Kirchner.

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