How will Meyer manage his players?
When the final whistle blows on Saturday, August 4, to sound the end of the Super Rugby season, it will be exactly 14 days before the Springboks take on Argentina at Newlands, Capetown.
In the past season there has been a slight hint towards a power shift happening in South Africa.
Even though the South African conference will show you that the Stormers have been on top of the SA conference for the past two years and the Bulls and Sharks have been fighting it out for second place, the reality is John Plumtree’s players have shown more ingenuity, more flair and more attacking nous combined with solid structure and very strong defence.
When considering the potential selections that Heyneke Meyer has to contemplate, the bulk of his forward pack is most likely to come from the Sharks Franchise.
Beast Mtwarira, Bismarck du Plessis, Jannie du Plessis, Keegan Daniel, Willem Alberts, Marcell Coetzee and Ryan Kankowski all have a realistic chance to feature during the Rugby Championship.
Now forget about the perceived blue tinted bias from Heyneke Meyer for a moment, and consider which of the other Franchises’ players could push for a place in the pack.
Beast, Bismarck and Jannie are without a doubt in my mind the incumbents and only the injured Coenie Oosthuizen would have been able to push for a position in the starting front row.
Arguably Andries Bekker, Even Etzebeth and Juandre Kruger would be the first choice players competing for the lock combination with Bekker and Etzebeth the front runners. You could even make a case for Anton Bresler who has played every game for the Sharks this season and his work rate alone would justify his selection.
Considering Schalk Burger and Juan Smith is out of the equation and Pierre Spies has been in poor form for some time now, it stands to reason Marcell Coetzee, Willem Alberts and Ryan Kankowski are a good bet in the starting XV.
Who could push for a place there? Perhaps Duane Vermeulen if fit, Heinrich Brussow or Keegan Daniel who has been touted by many to have had his best season for some time and led his team from the front.
Uncharacteristically the half back cupboard in South Africa is currently quite bare, with a number of solid, but not spectacular nines available, Francois Hougaard could have been pushed by Sarel Pretorius, but alas he decided his future lies elsewhere (wonder if he still believes that?). Ruan Pienaar would be the obvious alternate.
The most talked about position in South Africa is undoubtedly the pivot, Morne Steyn has been poor for some time, Lambie my current first choice due to the unavailability of Goosen has not played at 10 often enough this season, being injured a number of times and Plumtree choosing to go for the continuity of Mcleod and Michalack will significantly reduce his call up.
So who is left, Peter Grant, who had a mare on Saturday?
Frans Steyn and JDV are the obvious choices for midfield with JJ Engelbrecht, Juan de Jongh in the back ground.
Wings will most likely be Habana and Pietersen who have both seen an uprising in their form.
Chances are Lambie will be moved to full back and Zane Kirchner his back up.
When you consider that the Sharks will be ending their season only 14 days prior to the start of the Rugby Championship after the toughest end to a season in recent memory, how will this affect their performances in the Rugby Championship?
Chances are you could have as many as six Sharks forwards and three Sharks backs in the starting XV, it could be a very hard tournament for these boys to face.
Add to that the Argentinians are known for their hard as nails forwards, the Springoks could be hurting by the time they hit the Antipodes.
Meyer will have to manage his players very well to enable them to be competitive for another six weeks in the hardest and most competitive tournament on earth.
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