'X-factor' RG Snyman deserves Bok call

Mark Keohane (File)
Mark Keohane (File)

Be it for the Test against Wales in the United States or the first Test against England in Johannesburg a week later, I’d want to see Bulls lock RG Snyman in a Springbok starting lock jersey.

Eben Etzebeth, if he has recovered from injury, will always have ownership of one of the two lock positions, but it’s the Bulls lock combination of Snyman and Lood de Jager that has been the best in a South African context in the first half of Super Rugby.

There’s an adage in sport that says pick a player when his form is red hot, regardless of how old, young, experienced or inexperienced. I sincerely hope it’s an adage that will hold true when Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus names his first two Springbok teams.

Erasmus has indicated that he will pick two very different match 23s for his first ever Test in charge, against Wales in Washington DC on June 2, and the following week against England in the opening Test of a three-match series.

I suspect the team that lay in wait in Johannesburg will be the one Erasmus initially views as his first XV, with the match squad that travels to the States primarily being those on the fringes of the preferred match 23.

It could all change once those opening two Tests have been played and by the end of the England series you could find that several of those players who started against Wales are in fact the preferred run on XV.

Erasmus, when it comes to forwards, is spoilt for choice. He will be hoping that Lions and Springbok captain Warren Whiteley has a strong tour to Australia and New Zealand and is fit to play the June internationals.

Equally Etzebeth, who captained the Springboks in 2017 when Whiteley was injured.

Etzebeth and Whiteley add class and impact to any starting pack. If fit, it’s a given the duo will start in Johannesburg against England.

De Jager was the South African 2015 Player of the Year, but in the next two years he lost form and also struggled with injury. De Jager, in 2018, is rejuvenated and in many respects reinvented. Bulls coach and former All Blacks, Force, Lions and USA coach John Mitchell has been massive in getting De Jager back to the form of 2015.

De Jager, fit and in-form, is an asset to any international squad, but it’s Snyman’s all-round game that has made the biggest impact. He oozes X-factor, has mongrel and attitude and from what I have been told is also very much a thinking man’s lock. Snyman is big, brutal and bright. Pick him!

I don’t expect Erasmus’s pack selections to differ too much from those who played in 2017. The pack wasn’t the issue in the Allister Coetzee 2016 and 2017 era; it’s the backs who were never up to the challenge.

Everyone I speak to has a different view of the Springboks starting back seven.

James Dalton, tough as they come in his playing days for the Springboks, was never shy in voicing his opinion as a player and the player, affectionately known as Bullet, is as passionate about the Springboks as he was when wearing the No 2 jersey.

Bullet and I do a weekly rugby podcast show called ‘Biting the Bullet’. It’s uncensored and straight to the point. Dalton, in the most recent podcast, told those players he criticised not to be "pu***es" and to understand that his show is called ‘biting the bullet’ for a reason.

Bullet and I discussed Springbok squad selection and especially the choice of backs. While we found common ground in several of our forward selections, we differed in every position in our starting backline.

I had Elton Jantjies to start at flyhalf and Bullet had Handre Pollard to wear the No 10 jersey. Have a listen to the podcast to see who I picked and who Bullet picked in Nos 15, 14, 13, 12, 11 and 9.

And while my ‘bolter’ Springbok would be RG Snyman at lock for the June Test, Bullet’s bolter wears No 15.

Have a listen and let us know who you would pick to start from No 9 to 15 and if you think Bullet’s backline offers more than my starting back seven.

*Listen to James Dalton and Mark Keohane’s Rugby Podcast, Biting the Bullet

Mark Keohane is a Cape-Town based award-winning rugby specialist and former Springbok Communications Manager. Follow him on Twitter 

Disclaimer: Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.

Previous Mark Keohane columns on Sport24:

There is enough quality for Boks to excel in 2018

Is SANZAAR waiting for the death of a player?

Bok series will be the end of Eddie Jones

Don't blame transformation for SA rugby woes

Stormers don't have halfbacks to challenge in Super Rugby

Bulls will be a different animal under Mitchell

Back Sharks to be SA's top team

Rassie's Boks will beat England's Eddie

Shocking results, not race behind Coetzee's axing

No tournament with Sunwolves can be 'best v best'!

How Rassie plans to re-align SA Rugby

Scrap the 30-Test ruling and make Cheslin Kolbe a Bok!

Blitzboks, not All Blacks, the talk of Cape Town

Kids don't win RWCs, get back Duane, Frans!

Why Rassie is the man to take Boks forward

Paris glory won't erase Albany and Dublin gore

I'd happily take a 1-point win!

To vote against SA's bid would be an insult

Bosch will win Currie Cup final for Sharks

No current Bok would make 2007 team!

Dublin is D-Day for Boks

All Blacks' lack of desire gives Boks a sniff

Boks will beat Wallabies, but...

Bok changes won't spell panic

Boks will run All Blacks close

Win or lose in Perth, Boks have made progress!

Etzebeth is the right choice for Bok captain!

Kriel sets example others should follow

Combrinck to lead Lions to Super Rugby title

Jantjies the man to lead Lions to glory

Stormers WILL reach Super Rugby semis!

Stormers need to back youngster Willemse

Serfontein, Mostert the Boks standouts

Boks must extend Brendan 'Mr Fixit' Venter's role

Coetzee's Lions-laden Bok side can't lose!

Expect a different looking Bok starting XV!

Fear not, Boks will whitewash France 3-0!

Hey Allister, load the Boks with Lions!

The RWC 2019 gods have smiled on the Boks!

Unleash Curwin Bosch on the French!

YES, an overseas-based SA team would beat the Boks, but...

The next Springbok skipper has to be...

Super Rugby cull good for SA rugby

Clap, clap ... Venter's appointment should be applauded

South African rugby NEEDS to host RWC 2023

Why SA can't have 6 Super Rugby teams

Super 12 glory is now Super 18 gory

No winner is SARU's half-cocked overseas policy

Keeping Coetzee sadly no April Fools' joke

Mediocrity must fall!

Overseas based SA players are no traitors!

Sick Boks need more than a new doctor

Joost earned more than a minute's silence

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