Springboks

What would an all-local Bok side look like?

Frans Steyn (Gallo)
Frans Steyn (Gallo)

Cape Town - Springbok coach Allister Coetzee was his usual talkative self when he addressed media in Pretoria on Monday. 

He has put last year to bed, he says, and is feeling a lot more confident about 2017. 

Coetzee spoke about finding a balance between attack and defence, his shortage of specialist flyhalves and the dangers of the French, but there was one moment that stood out as particularly intriguing. 

With Duane Vermeulen out injured, SuperSport writer Brenden Nel asked Coetzee if there was a possibility of the Boks fielding a completely locally-based starting line-up against the French at Loftus on Saturday. 

"Ah, you're a smart man," was Coetzee's response, before adding that it would be "right" to pick the players who had formed part of the preparation week in Plettenberg Bay last week in the build-up to the France series. 

With Vermeulen out and Francois Hougaard only joining the squad on Monday, Coetzee's overseas-based players are limited to begin with. 

Steven Kitshoff is in the squad, but he can now be considered a local player given that he is back with the Stormers from next season. 

The glaring omission should Coetzee opt to go completely local would be Montpellier's Frans Steyn. 

The 30-year-old is fit, seasoned and could add a lot of value to what is a largely inexperienced Springbok backline. 

The Boks have already lost Damian de Allende, Lionel Mapoe and Lukhanyo Am to injury, leaving them incredibly short on midfielders.

Playing Steyn at No 12 seems a logical option given his experience, big boot and proven ability, but he was also a late addition to the Plettenberg Bay group having joined midway through last week. 

Coetzee has also been vocal on his willingness to back combinations this year, and with Steyn not having played in the country, that could persuade the coach to go with something more tried and tested. 

There is no doubt that both Steyn and Hougaard offer massive value coming off the bench given their versatility, and if Coetzee does go that route then the Boks will field 15 Super Rugby players (if we count Kitshoff as a Stormer). 

Removing Steyn and Hougaard from the equation makes it relatively easy to predict what the Bok backline would look like, while the pack is slightly more difficult to call. 

An all-local Bok side for the first Test on Saturday could look something like this:

15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Dillyn Leyds, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Siya Kolisi, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen/Ruan Dreyer, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Tendai Mtawarira

When Coetzee first took the reins back in April 2016, he said that he would always look to back those players who commit to playing their rugby in South Africa. 

His hand may be slightly forced at this stage, but if the Boks can get off to a winning start on Saturday without selecting anybody based across the pond, then that can only be a good sign for South African rugby.

Follow Sport24 journalist @LloydBurnard on Twitter...

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