The Springboks will unveil a new coach later this year and whoever that may be – along with him will come a number of positives; a new captain, a new game plan, and hopefully a move away from the selection of a few of “Heyneke’s favourites” and toward a crop of players who have been banging down the Bok door for long.
Heyneke Meyer had favourite players – there is no doubt about. And while that is understandable – he is only human – often the selection of these guys came at the disadvantage of the team.
Let’s take a look at some of Heyneke’s favourites that will hopefully not be pulling on a Bok jumper in the next 4 years.
I laughed uncomfortably when Matfield hinted that RWC15 might not be his last and that he’d be available for Japan 2019. This plan surely relied on Heyneke being around because no other coach will pick a 38 year old (no matter how fit he is) to go toe to toe with Sam Whitelock etc while keeping either Lood or Eben out of the team.
I do think that Ruan has retired from international rugby now but if he hadn’t – you can bet your bottom dollar that he would’ve still been picked above Paige, De Klerk and Reinach.
Have never been a Coenie fan – I think he is a throwback to an age of Springbok rugby that we shouldn’t be revisiting; running into faces instead of spaces. That plus I don’t rate him as a scrummager – we have far better scrum hungry props in SA.
Jannie Du Plessis
While I admit that Jannie has been a good player for the Boks – he, very sadly, no longer is. Jannie is formiddable in the scrum but otherwise he is insignificant. He tends to fall off tackles and isn’t the greatest with ball in hand either. Frans Malherbe gave a fine showing of himself in RWC2015 and I back him to carry the mantle under the new guard.
In my opinion, Zane had few good games for the Boks and his left field selection was always rather perplexing. Hopefully with Heyneke now out of the picture – Zane will be too.
Then, let’s take a look at some guys who have been desperately unlucky to have not gotten a look or a relook.
Mapoe has been a consistently good performer for the various Super Rugby and Currie Cup outfits he has turned up for and he deserves a crack at the Bok no. 13 jersey. I am a Jesse Kriel fan but I am not yet convinced that he is an outside centre.
Juan De Jongh
De Jongh has 14 test caps to his name but he hasn’t donned the green and gold since 2012. Sure he doesn’t have the greatest hands but he has the best step and stiff arm combo of any back line player in SA and he uses it often. He is also rock solid on D. I do think playing sevens will help his cause here massively however. Lets hope he has a great Super Rugby season.
Faf De Klerk
Like Rudy Paige, De Klerk was one of the best scrum halves in SA during last year’s Super 15 season. I do think it was only a matter of time before he was picked however Ruan Pienaar was standing in his way and had some sort of weird vice like grip on the jersey.
I know what you are thinking – too small, right? Well he is small and I am sure he’d admit that – modern backline players are no longer small. However if you consider that our incumbent Bok 15 isn’t exactly massive and the fact that Gio is a wizard with ball in hand – I’d be hoping that the next Bok boss gives the guy another crack.
It’s almost a joke that Kriel wasn’t selected during 2015. The only explanation I can come up with – for why a player ranked second in turnovers, and 8th in defenders beaten wasn’t selected – was due to combinations. I get it and agree – combinations are vital in a loose trio but leaving one of the best Super Rugby players behind is sacrilege.
So there you go. 5 guys who might not be selected again and 5 who hopefully might. What’s your thoughts? Any guys I have left off the list? Is Ruan Pienaar awesome? Should Matfield go to Japan 2019? Would love to hear more about it – hit us with a tweet @leftbacks or comment below.