Steyn-free Rugby World Cup

Sport24 columnist Tank Lanning (File)
Sport24 columnist Tank Lanning (File)

Birds do it, bees do it, hell, even educated fleas do it ... let’s pick a World Cup squad!

An old soak suggested to me when I first started this writing lark, that the best columnists are those that take a look at what’s being bandied about in mainstream media, and then write about something completely different. It’s a piece of advice I have taken to heart, but not today!

It’s the day before Heyneke Meyer announces his Springbok squad for the 2015 World Cup. Something that happens once every four years. It’s hardly the time to be rabbiting on about how referees are now policing players entering mauls ahead of the ball carrier, or how horrible the Eddie Jones appointment is for what new kid on the block John Dobson is trying to achieve in Cape Town.

Nope, I am going to bloody well jump on the bandwagon and select the 31 man squad I would be sending to the UK in a few weeks’ time:

Fullback: Willie le Roux, Zane Kirchner

Wing: Bryan Habana, Lwazi Mvovo, JP Pietersen

Centre: Damian De Allende, Jean de Villiers, Jan Serfontein, Jesse Kriel

Flyhalf: Handré Pollard, Pat Lambie

Scrumhalf: Fourie du Preez, Ruan Pienaar, Cobus Reinach

8th man: Duane Vermeulen, Schalk Burger

Flank: Willem Alberts, Francois Louw, Siya Kolisi, Oupa Mohoje, Heinrich Brussow

Lock: Eben Etzebeth, Victor Matfield, Pieter-Steph du Toit

Tighthead: Jannie du Plessis, Vincent Koch, Frans Malherbe

Hooker: Bismarck du Plessis, Adriaan Strauss

Loosehead: Tendai Mtawarira, Trevor Nyakane

With 14 backs and only 17 forwards, it’s not exactly mainstream, and it most certainly borrows from the Michael Cheika school of selection in the two hooker department. But given the miniscule part the third hooker has played in the Bok set up, and that a replacement is only 12 hours away (if we play by the book, if not, he may actually be “on holiday” 12 minutes away), I think this is a risk worth taking.

The same could be said at scrumhalf, but given that we have all forgotten what Fourie du Preez looks like, his is a risky selection that needs some back up. Another risk worth taking given the difference he makes to the side when on song, even after long periods out the game.

Players unlucky not to make the side would be Lood de Jager (Both Alberts and Mohoje could play lock in an emergency, while Du Toit can play both lock and flank), Cornal Hendricks (Kirchner and De Allende can play wing), Frans Steyn (to my mind it’s him or De Villiers, with the latter winning hands down, also a risk re squad harmony), Marcell Coetzee (could easily be selected ahead of Kolisi, but under a bit of an injury cloud), and Schalk Brits (who loses out to the 2 hooker strategy).

Players a little lucky to make the squad include Kirchner (Frans Steyn’s big presence and boot were sorely tempting), Reinach (the bolter could well have been Francois Hougaard), and Mohoje (De Jager as a 4th lock would have seen him drop out the squad).

Koch and Nyakane would need to spend some time throwing balls at Matfield’s lollipop because you have to have a nominated player who can play hooker in case one of Du Plessis or Strauss get injured in a warm up. Koch gets the nod as the 5th prop because he can also play loosehead (something he did for the Pumas as recently as last year).

Righto, over to you Heyneke. Bring on 18:00 tomorrow evening!

Tank is a former Western Province tighthead prop who now heads up Tankman Media, and sprouts forth on all things rugby on the Front Row Grunt.

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.

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