The great Bok captain conundrum

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With the Irish test series less than a month away – we can expect that the Springboks will replace Super Rugby in mainstream media soon. One of AC’s first assignments? Appointing a captain.

Who will AC elect to captain the Boks?

Will he pick a long term captain, or a temporary one to fill the gap? Will he consider overseas based players as captain? Will he make a brave call and pick a rookie captain? Will he bring Victor Matfield back for another trot?

So many questions, so few answers.

There is a lot of mystery surrounding the appointment of one of the most important leaders in SA and in this post we’ll look at clarifying who we believe the candidates are, put forward our preferred candidate and then highlight who it probably will be.

In terms of the criteria important in a Bok captain – we believe that the below are the three most important:

  1. Age: AC/SA need a long term captain (it just works better) and therefore the captain has to have enough years in in him to compete at RWC19 in Japan.
  2. Experience: Probably not AS important but ideally the captain would’ve had to have played more than a handful of tests.
  3. Certainty: For me this is the big one. The captain’s place in the team has to be dead certain. He has to be the first name you write down on your team sheet.

Now that this out the way, lets get into the candidates.

For the purposes of this article – we’ll keep our list to those who have led a domestic team or the Boks before.

Adriaan Strauss

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Age: 30
Experience: 54
Certainty: 2/5

At 30 years old, Adriaan Atrauss still has plenty of rugby left in him but he is wrestling Bismarck and other young guns for the number 2 position and is not exactly dominating the opposition at the moment. That said, he has lead the Boks before and is an experienced captain.

Bismarck Du Plessis

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Age: 31
Experience: 79
Certainty: 4/5

Bismarck will be 36 at the next World Cup and therefore probably too old. That said, as a bit of a hot head – he is not the kind of player that will command respect from his peers or the ref. That said, perhaps we do need a Dylan Hartley to lead the Boks? Either way, I’d exclude him based on his age. He also currently plays in France.

Handre Pollard

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Age: 22
Experience: 20
Certainty: 4/5

While it’ll be a brave call – similar to the appointment of Graeme Smith as Proteas skipper at 22 – I like the idea of picking Pollard as captain. He has a quiet maturity to him and that will make him a good on field captain. Just not sure about ref/media management but he could learn those skills.

Pat Lambie

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Age: 25
Experience: 50
Certainty: 3/5

Similar to Pollard, Lambie would make for a strong Bok skipper. However this would require a coach that sees him as the best no.10 (or no.15) in the country and I unfortunately don’t see this happening.

Lood De Jager

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Age: 23
Experience: 19
Certainty: 2/5

Lood is in a tough crowd. Etzebeth, PstD and Franco Mostert are probably all playing better rugby than him and deserve their spot more so I don’t think this is a good call at all.

Frans Malherbe

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Age: 25
Experience: 12
Certainty: 4/5

With Jannie Du Plessis (hopefully) out of the picture for now – Frans should be able to make the number 3 jumper his own and deservedly so. He is a good scrummager, good on defense and at 25 years old – is young enough to have one or even two world cups left in him.

Juan De Jongh

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Age: 28
Experience: 14
Certainty: 4/5

With AC taking over the Bok boss gig – I fancy JdJ will finally get another crack at the no.13 jumper. But again, I am not sure he is good enough to make that spot his own. Guys like Kriel, De Allende, Serfontein, Mapoe and others will be vying for limited spots in that channel and in my opinion, JdJ is neither good enough a player or a leader (at this stage) to warrant an extended run as captain. De Jongh does however offer the benefit of transformation and that might make his appointment slightly more likely.

Warren Whiteley

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Age: 28
Experience: 3
Certainty: 3/5

Whiteley has to be one of the nicest guys on the rugby scene and is a good player – solid on defence, a bit of flair to him etc – but I don’t think he is the best number 8 in the country. Also, will his playing style suit the Bok blueprint? I doubt it. For this to work, Whiteley would have to play flank and unfortunately he won’t find it any easier going on the side of the scrum.

Francois Louw

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Age: 30
Experience: 43
Certainty: 4/5

Francois Louw is one of the two players that in my opinion deserve the job most. He is a seasoned leader, is relatively certain of his position in the team and is the right age to lead to Boks to the next World Cup. But playing out of the country – this wouldn’t work. He’d need to return and give up the Pound Sterling – would he? WP would welcome him back I am sure.

Duane Vermeulen

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Age: 29
Experience: 35
Certainty: 5/5

Duane and Flo would be in my top 2 for Bok skipper duties. He leads from the front, is dead certain on his spot in the team (particular with AC on board) and is of the right age to guide us to the World Cup. But again, he plays overseas. My feeling is that Duane can be coaxed to come back by the job (and a healthy reimbursement) but it depends on whether SARU etc would be willing to make that a reality.

So now that we have looked at all the possibilities, it’s time to make a call on who we think the Bok skipper should be.

Drum roll please.

And that man is, Duane Vermeulen. He’d need to come home though.

Do we think this will come true however? We are really not sure.

If it does, it might take time and in the meantime – someone like Adriaan Strauss or even Frans Malherbe could cover. But if it doesn’t – I’d look at making Pollard captain.

Either way, we are about to enter a very interesting phase on Springbok rugby folks, so hang on to your hats.

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There you have it guys – what’s your thoughts? Any candidates we have left off the list? What’s your thoughts on who will be elected skip? Let us know in the comments below or hit us with a tweet @leftbacks.

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