6 Boks left tackling bags

Gio Aplon (File)
Gio Aplon (File)
Cape Town - Why take players along for the Springboks' end of year tour if all they're going to do is carry tackle bags?

It's a well documented fact that South Africans are terrified of losing in any sporting code and would far rather play players into the ground than "risk" picking a fresh face - building depth in the process - and seeing what he - or she - has to offer at the highest level.

With the confirmation of the Springbok team to face France in Paris on Saturday (kick-off 22:00 SA time), no fewer than SIX players selected in the original 32-man squad won't see a second of playing time on tour.

Among the backs, all of Gio Aplon, Johan Goosen, Zane Kirchner, Jan Serfontein and Louis Schreuder won't feature, while among the forwards, Scarra Ntubeni will be left waiting for a first cap.

So why select them in the first place?

Coach Heyneke Meyer was quoted as saying pre-tour that "results don't necessarily matter" as he looks to build towards the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England.

Last weekend's Test against lowly Scotland would've been the perfect opportunity to give "fringe" players a run and increase the player pool to select from with the global showpiece in mind.

You just KNOW that the All Blacks, given a similiar set of circumstances, wouldn't have hesitated to make a full 15 changes and give every squad member a chance of staking their claim - something they HAVE done on several occasions in the past!

And therein lies the major difference between the No 1-ranking New Zealand side, and the No 2 Springboks...

Instead, with the Springboks clearly afraid of losing, Meyer even brought back 34-year-old Bakkies Botha for a Test they should be winning with their second string side against a team ranked ninth in the IRB rankings. With all due respect to Bakkies, he's unlikely to feature at the 2015 spectacle.

The Edinburgh Test would've been the perfect opportunity for the young Pieter-Steph du Toit to get his first start, but the Sharks lock was not even included on the bench, with Eben Etzebeth providing the "safe" option among the substitutes.

Jean de Villiers - who is in desperate need of some time off - could have done with a well-deserved rest with hooker Adriaan Strauss taking over the captaincy.

But no. And we question WHY!

With Strauss picked at hooker, Ntubeni could have been given his first taste of Test rugby off the bench and the same goes for Lourens Adriaanse, but instead Beast Mtawarira provided cover for old-timer Gurthrö Steenkamp who started, with Bismarck du Plessis playing substitute for Strauss.

Meyer did experiment by picking Patrick Lambie at flyhalf and Willie le Roux at fullback, but why on earth pick Morné Steyn on the bench and then bring him on for the last five minutes for crying out loud?!

Steyn, who was under an injury cloud after limping off against the Welsh the prior weekend, had no business being on the bench in the first place.

Goosen - who hasn't played for some months and is desperate for some game time - would have been the ideal man to come on.

Ruan Pienaar was scrumhalf Fourie du Preez's substitute against Scotland and will start against France this weekend after Du Preez was released thanks to an agreement between Springbok management and his Japanese club.

With Du Preez not available for the France Test, the Boks sent a hasty SOS to Jano Vermaak to do bench duty against the French.

So what about Schreuder?

Yes, he was a somewhat surprising selection in the first place, but why was he picked if the coaches are going to simply call upon another player if their No 1-choice scrumhalf is suddenly not available?

Then there's Aplon and Serfontein who will see no action on this tour.

Aplon turned 31 last month and isn't getting any younger. He was the stand-out fullback in the recently concluded Currie Cup and has held his own on the wing as well. But all he's done the past month is hold tackle bags...

Willie le Roux may have put in a man of the match performance against the Scots, but we both know Aplon could've done as much damage - maybe even more - on the day.

Bringing back old stalwarts like Botha and Jaque Fourie may help guarantee wins against teams like Scotland, but if the Springboks really want to improve their player depth - and rest players - they should not be worried about going into a clash against the No 9-ranked team in the world with a second string outfit.

Did you know that no fewer than 10 Springboks have been selected for all 12 Tests this year, while a further three have only missed one?

Professor Tim Noakes must be doing his head in!

Springbok squad for the 2013 year-end tour (players who won't see any game time named in bold:


Gio Aplon, Jean de Villiers (captain), Fourie du Preez, JJ Engelbrecht, Jaque Fourie, Johan Goosen, Bryan Habana, Zane Kirchner, Patrick Lambie, Willie le Roux, Ruan Pienaar, JP Pietersen, Jan Serfontein, Louis Schreuder, Morné Steyn.

Added: Jano Vermaak


Willem Alberts, Bakkies Botha, Marcell Coetzee, Bismarck du Plessis, Lourens Adriaanse, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Eben Etzebeth, Siya Kolisi, Francois Louw, Frans Malherbe, Tendai Mtawarira, Scarra Ntubeni, Coenie Oosthuizen, Gurthrö Steenkamp, Adriaan Strauss, Flip van der Merwe, Duane Vermeulen.

Added: Frik Kirsten
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