It’s fairly well known in rugby circles that the Springboks will use the test against the Welsh in Cardiff as an opportunity to test the depth in their talent pool, and blood some new, and old, players.
Just how deep the net is cast remains to be seen.
One thing we do know is that Peter de Villiers will not be using much from the ranks of the Bulls and or Stormers, if either or both progresses to the finals.
Assuming they do, and he leaves them out entirely, any team will need to be made from the Sharks, Cheetahs, Lions and overseas players. Of those teams, you would expect the Sharks to supply the bulk, with a bit of cherry picking from the remainder.
Playing selector, then, here is my match 22 for the June 5th test:
1. Tendai Mtawaira (Sharks)
2. John Smit (C)(Sharks)
3. Jannie du Plessis (Sharks)
I went for the Sharks for the frontrow, as it’s a tough gnarled international trio. Smit at captain and hooker.
4. Steven Sykes (Sharks)
5. Alistair Hargreaves (Sharks)
The lock selection was a tough one, due to the lack of star players outside the Bulls and Stormers. So I went for the settled combo of Sykes, whom I rate, and Hargreaves.
6. Cobus Grobelaar (Lions)
7. Juan Smith (Cheetahs)
8. Willem Alberts (Sharks)
The back-row is another tough set of selections, due to a bounty of choice. Juan Smith is a definite, with some debate on the number 8 spot. Kankowski would seem the obvious choice, but Alberts is more suited to the pitch. Kankowski is in the squad in the event that the roof is closed.
On the open-side, I have gone for the Cobus – he plays to the ball better than most, and is a tireless worker. I also think he deserves a shot for the amount of losing captain’s speeches he has had to do.
9. Jano Vermaak (Lions)
With Pienaar at 10, the depth looks rather shallow. I’m not convinced on Kockott, and think he is a bit of a liability. Vermaak has been in the top four halfbacks in the country for some time, so he gets the shot.
10. Ruan Pienaar (Sharks)
There is really no-one else.
11. JP Pieterson (Sharks)
Lots of strong contenders for the wing spots, and with a back three light on experience, JP keeps his spot.
12. Jean de Villiers (Munster)
Jean it is. If this is not possible, the only person I see filling this spot will be Meyer Bosman, if chosen locally, or Francois Steyn, if not.
13. Robert Ebherson (Cheetahs)
There’s a distinct lack of classy outside centers at the moment, but I believe this kid has what it takes for this position.
14. Tonderai Chavanga (Lions)
Again, lots of options on the wings, but this guy just destroys defences with pace and footwork.
15. Patrick Lambie (Sharks)
Very level headed, solid under the highball, and a lack of genuine contenders hands Lambie the spot.
16. BJ Botha (Ulster)
17. Adriaan Strauss (Cheetahs)
18. Wilhem Steenkamp (Sharks)
19. Jean Deysel (Sharks)
20. Wikus van Heerden (Lions)
21. Francois Steyn (Racing Metro)
22. Odwa Ndugane (Sharks)
Perhaps a bit light in experience, but some good talent in there to get a look at.