Our Springbok 23

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Ahead of the Springbok squad announcement on Saturday, we decided to take a stab at who we’d start in our match day 23 against Ireland.

First a cool picture.

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Then without further ado, let’s jump right into it.

1. Beast Mtawarira
Stat attack: 7 defenders beaten

While the Beast hasn’t had a fantastic season – he is a seasoned campaigner, a solid scrummager and handy around the park.

2. Adriaan Strauss
Stat attack: 11 turnovers won

Strauss has done enough to retain the Bok number 2 jersey. He also offers valuable leadership expertise in a relatively new period.

3. Frans Malherbe
Stat attack: 3 turnovers won

Malherbe should enjoy a lengthy spell in the tighthead spot now with Jannie (hopefully) out of the picture. Well deserved – this writer thinks Frans could be a future Bok captain.

4. Eben Etzebeth
Stat attack: 9 lineouts stolen

Even though he has only played around 400 minutes of Super Rugby – Etzebeth has done more than enough to bed down his spot. He is just a machine with ball in hand, on D and in the lineout and he needs to play.

5. Pieter Steph du-Toit
Stat attack: 2 lineouts stolen

PsdT has probably been the best attacking weapon in the Stormer’s arsenal. While that doesn’t say much for the Stormers – it does say a lot about a man who is supposed to be a tight forward.

6. Jaco Kriel
Stat attack: 9 clean breaks

Kriel should probably have been in the RWC squad but he wasn’t and it’s now his time to shine. With Burger out injured he can make a strong long term statement.

7. Siya Kolisi
Stat attack: 12 defenders beaten

I have always been a Kolisi fan but he has been a bit rough. This season he has added flair on attack and effectiveness on D and I back him for a prolonged run on the flank.

8. Duane Vermeulen (c)
Stat attack: IRB world player of the year nomination 2014

Duane was the first name on my list and he would wear the C too. The second best eighthman in the world – Big Duane offers the Boks something unique and he would start for me every day of the week.

9. Faf De Klerk
Stat attack: 5 try assists

Faf has been the best number 9 in SA for a while and he should get his shot against Ireland. Looking at how many try assists he has had gives you an indication of how handy he can be in creating points.

10. Pat Lambie
Stat attack: 25 passes

Lambie has come back just in the nick of time – specially with Elton out injured. That said, Lambie would get the nod from me every day of the week. Flair, solid, kicking prowess – he is the package.

11. Lwasi Mvovo
Stat attack: 16 clean breaks

Mvovo has had a bit of a raw deal with the Boks – but his form has also been a bit up and down which hasn’t helped him – but he is now playing good rugby, making breaks, scoring tries and he’d get the start.

12. Jan Serfontein
Stat attack: 96 tackles completed

I have always liked Serfontein – even when he went through his no pass phase – and he has been one of the shining lights in the Bulls attack this year. Also he has played a handful of tests and that will be indispensable when considering who we are picking next…

13. Lionel Mapoe
Stat attack: 8 tries scored

At 28, it is hard to believe Mapoe hasn’t had a look in before but this time – barring injury – his spot in the starting line up should be a dead certainty. Jesse Kriel hasn’t impressed and there’d be no room in the team for him.

14. Ruan Combrinck
Stat attack: 798 metres run

Combrinck has been the best wing in SA so far this Super Rugby season and I’d include him in my side. There is just something old school about his playing style – he isn’t the biggest guy – and I would give him a shot at the Irish.

15. Willie Le Roux
Stat attack: 33 loose balls collected

Willie hasn’t had the best season and (still) tends to blow hot and cold but he is the Springbok flair man – offering us more options on attack. He needs to work on his defense though – slipped 11 (out of a possible 25) tackles this year.

Reserves:

16. Scarra Ntubeni
17. Steven Kitshoff (remember him? give him a shot!)
18. Julian Redelinghuys
19. Franco Mostert
20. Warren Whiteley
21. Rudy Paige
22. Johan Goosen
23. Francois Venter

There you have it guys – what’s your thoughts on the squad? Anyone we have left off? Anyone that we have included that shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near the Bok jersey? Good! Let’s have a debate in the comments below of fire off a Tweet to @leftbacks and let the banter begin.

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