Who knows – it might just happen this way!

2016-10-26 06:00

THEY call it “Sticking Your Neck Out”. So let’s do it. The Springboks will win at least three of the four matches of their overseas tour starting with the so-called “friendly” against the Barbarians at Wembley on November 5.

Why not? All sorts of weird and wonderful things happen on that day – it’s Guy Fawkes Day after all, remember? The day in modern times when the heavens are set alight with all kinds of colourful explosions.

A day when fireworks with thunderous bangs blitz the skies, dressing the darkness with garments of every shade and shape.

It is, too, a day that regularly celebrates not only all that is best about rugby football – its bravery, its sportsmanship, its stamp of courage; also its daring from players who set out, more than anything, to entertain.

Then comes the tough grind, you might say in this case the “serious” side of such a tour – for the Springboks coming at a time when South African rugby so desperately needs to prove itself once more.

Make no mistake, the talent is there in “Spades”, as the saying goes, both in the “friendly” opening 80-minute clash with the Baa-baas and the more demanding fixture against England at Twickenham, followed by Italy on November 19 and winding up the following weekend against Wales at the Principality Stadium.

The toughest encounter of the four, without doubt, will be the Twickenham date, specially under the guidance of former Australian coach, Eddie Jones.

Quite how seriously Bok coach Allister Coetzee is taking this tour as a stepping stone for the Boks to elevate the nation back to the greatness of bygone years is demonstrated by the manner in which he has chosen two squads for the tour. For the opener against the Barbarians, 30 have been named; for the Test squad, 33.

Specially intriguing are players who have been named for both the opening “friendly” and the three Tests – key players the coach believes who could be keystones to the Boks’ success.

To name just a few: Patrick Lambie, the lock pairing of Eben Etzebeth and Pieter-Steph du Toit, hooker and captain Adriaan Strauss, tight-head prop Tendai (Beast) Mtawarira.

Also Ruan Combrinck is back in the mix, though several regulars are missing because of injury, among them Handré Pollard, Cobus Reinach and Bismarck du Plessis.

Says coach Coetzee, “It’s part of planning for the future. The Barbarians match is a great occasion for the younger lads to show they belong at this level.”

Baa-baas match: Cheslin Kolbe, Jama Ulengo, Jesse Kriel, Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Sergeal Petersen, Ruan Combrinck, Francois Venter, Damian de Allende, Tian Schoeman, Pat Lambie, Rudy Paige, Faf de Klerk, Piet van Zyl, Nizaam Carr, Roelof Smit, Uzair Jean-luc du Preez, Oupa Mohoje, Eben Etzebeth, Pieter-Steph du Toit, RG Snyman, Lood de Jager, Lourens Adriaanse, Trevor Nyakane, Thomas du Toit, Lizo Gqoboka, Tendai Mtawarira, Adriaan Strauss, Malcolm Marx, Bongi Mbonambi.

The Test squad: Johan Goosen, Pat Lambie, Ruan Combrinck, Sergeal Petersen, Willie le Roux, Jessie Kriel, Lionel Mapoe, Francois Venter, Bryan Habana, JP Pietersen , Damien de Allende, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Eben Etstebeth, Lood de Jager, Franco Mostert, Vincent Koch, Steven Kitshoff, Jannie du Plessis Trevor Ngakane Tendai Mtawarira, Adriaan Strauss Bongi Mbonambi, Malcolm Marx.

Finally, there was no doubt about it – Free State Cheetahs in defeating the Blue Bulls 36-16 in last week’s Currie Cup final in Bloemfontein were at least twice as good as their opponents, as simple maths shows.

The Cheetahs are growling, well on their way back to the big time.

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