Surprises aplenty in Springbok squad for World XV

Rusty Roar Guru

By Rusty, Rusty is a Roar Guru


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    Bryan Habana playing for the Springboks. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

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    Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer has surprised a few with his selections for the world XV game this weekend. I count myself one of them.

    There is still a lot to debate but the introduction of Cornal Hendricks to the back three is an excellent choice and opportunity for the speedster who has combined well with Willie le Roux all season.

    Habana is the other wing and needs no analysis. How he shapes up after a season a Toulon will.

    The out of form JP Pieterson moves in one to his preferred position at outside centre – where he has played for his club side in Japan. He has played well here at super rugby level before but it is not a position we have seen much of him this season. Given defensive requirements this could be a big ask – especially beyond this first hit out.

    The other centre is Frans Steyn, where most of the faithful believe is his best position but argue that consistent rotation has robbed him of excelling in.

    For flyhalf – Meyer has plumbed for the low risk option of Morne Steyn. Neither he or Goosen have been playing much or with much form so it’s hard to argue whether this is the best selection. It’s expected both will play half of the match.

    If flyhalf was conservative – then scrumhalf is draconian. Starter Pienaar is apt at game management from the ruck but lacks speed of service – given the depth Steyn will receive the pill this probably wont impact the backline much more. Du Preez is on the bench but I would have preferred Reinach in for Ruan.

    The pack is as usual where it’s at. The established combination so Vermeulen, Alberts and Louw are in place. Vermeulen has been growing from strength to strength this season while Alberts has been getting more fatigued. Expect Schalk to replace Alberts around the 50 minute mark. Louw has I believe only just returned from injury at Bath but is still the best over the ball player the Boks have. With no Brussow in the squad we will need him.

    We are back to the future in the locks department. While I had massive reservations around Matfield’s return. the interim captain has actually been playing very well and deserves his place – Bakkies I am not so sure of. Victor is going to have to play 80 minutes as Bakkies can’t.

    No quibbles with the powerhouse all Sharks front row.

    The bench speaks volumes. No new blood and the fact the substitute loosehead and hooker are offshore players and in Steenkamp way off the game is a tragedy. For this match we should have been looking at any number of the super franchises loose head stocks. I would have actually preferred that we stop trying to retread Coenie Oosthuizen and bring in a tight head specialist as the Lions prop is pretty decent.

    The return of the incredible Schalk Burger is a good one, lets see if he can still bring it at international level.

    From the backs, its good to see Mvovo get a shot for his utility value. His recent form playing at fullback has probably helped and I would prefer his pace and attack to the conservative Kirchner.

    Overall, the pack looks as good as it can be. The backline isn’t too bad either but it will be the link between the 9-10 axis that will set the tone. At this point it appears to be the conservative choice. Lets hope I am wrong and the back three do more than chase up-and-unders all game.

    Springbok team: Willie le Roux, Cornal Hendricks, JP Pietersen, Frans Steyn, Bryan Habana, Morne Steyn, Ruan Pienaar, Duane Vermeulen, Willem Alberts, Francois Louw, Victor Matfield (captain), Bakkies Botha, Jannie du Plessis, Bismarck du Plessis, Tendai Mtawarira.

    Replacements: Schalk Brits, Gurthro Steenkamp, Coenie Oosthuizen, Flip van der Merwe, Schalk Burger, Fourie du Preez, Johan Goosen, Lwazi Mvovo.

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    The Crowd Says (74)

    • Roar Guru

      June 6th 2014 @ 1:20am
      Harry Jones said | June 6th 2014 @ 1:20am | ! Report

      NIcely done, Rusty. For me, there were a few missed opportunities by Meyer, but I am still excited to see the Boks run out and take on Steffon Armitage and Matt Giteau and James O’Connor. I doubt Willie le Roux and Cornal Hendricks will be hoisting up-and-unders all day; I have never seen Willie do that, and Cornal’s Seven instincts will be engrained. I always like Frans at 12 (he is too slow with his exit kicks at 10 and is also rather inconsistent with his punts). He and JPP might be a great combination, with JPP’s lines and how big they tackle. We will see. I am DISAPPOINTED with Meyer for the Morne-Ruan duo, because there is NOTHING NEW TO LEARN from them. I would rather see Goosen start with Fourie du Preez as his pinpoint halfback, to see how he goes. The other disappointment is at lock, where I would rather a see a young guy pairing up with Victor. Bakkies probably won’t be able to stay healthy for the RWC, with the mileage on his body. Victor plays differently and always preserves his body. But at the 4-lock, we have big bruisers to blood now. We always need locks at WC; we need more experience. That being said, I am still happy to see Bakkies in green and gold; he is one of my favourite players ever. I just don’t get the logic of using him against a World XV. Finally in the front row–not happy about using Steenkamp because again, we know precisely what we will get from him, but we should be seeing a young loosehead for 20 minutes to get experience.

      • Roar Guru

        June 6th 2014 @ 1:59am
        biltongbek said | June 6th 2014 @ 1:59am | ! Report

        Hi Harry, I agree, I am very disappointed with the fact that Reinach or for that manner no other nine is getting an opportunity.

        • June 6th 2014 @ 2:08am
          Chan Wee said | June 6th 2014 @ 2:08am | ! Report

          “” Nick Mallett has selected a World XV that includes five South Africans for this weekend’s clash with the Boks. Wynand Olivier, Rory Kockott, Alistair Hargreaves, Juandré Kruger and Craig Burden will take on their home country in Saturday’s one-off fixture.

          Also included in the XV is James O’Connor, who joins fellow Australians Drew Mitchell and Matt Giteau in the line-up, with New Zealanders Rene Ranger and Hosea Gear completing the backline. Up front there’s a back-row of Mamuka Gorgodze, Steffon Armitage and Roger Wilson, who wears number eight, while Carl Hayman and Sona Taumalolo are either side of hooker Burden.

          World XV: 15 James O’Connor, 14 Drew Mitchell, 13 Rene Ranger, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 Hosea Gear, 10 Matt Giteau, 9 Rory Kockott, 8 Roger Wilson, 7 Steffon Armitage, 6 Mamuka Gorgodze, 5 Alistair Hargreaves, 4 Juandré Kruger, 3 Carl Hayman, 2 Craig Burden, 1 Sona Taumalolo.
          Replacements: 16 Andrew Hore, 17 Schalk Ferreira, 18 Pat Cilliers, 19 Joe Tekori, 20 Alexandre Lapandry, 21 Jimmy Cowan, 22 François Trinh-Duc, 23 Benson Stanley. “”

          • Roar Guru

            June 6th 2014 @ 3:49am
            biltongbek said | June 6th 2014 @ 3:49am | ! Report

            I don’t know, Meyer seems to have a plan to control the game from nine and he is pedantic about it, it suggests a highly formulated game plan will be built upon and there will be no compromise or deviation from it.

            Reinach will need to curb his natural instincts if he wants to lay under Meyer’s regime.

            The same applies to Piet van Zyl, Sarel Pretorius, you just need to look at Hougaard and see how he is aiming to develop that Bulls structure to his game, and that is why he is considered.

            • June 6th 2014 @ 4:43am
              Harry Jones said | June 6th 2014 @ 4:43am | ! Report

              Yes. I think so. But I’m wondering if he makes them do 50 box kicks and if less than 40 fall outside a small circle and don’t stay in the air 4.0 seconds or more, you cannot be Bok 9….

              • Roar Guru

                June 6th 2014 @ 11:33am
                Colin Kennedy said | June 6th 2014 @ 11:33am | ! Report

                Ellis Park will be a thorn in HM’s memory. For 16 years the Boks held of the All Blacks at that venue, and then it was lost under HM’s watch when he tried to play an expansive, running game – it was exciting, attacking rugby (the Boks were looking likely winners until Habana went off injured).

                HM was left with a defeat – once bitten, twice shy? Could he be reverting to form – stolid, forward dominated, kicking rugby because he is not convinced the Boks can match the ABs running game? You would have to suggest the results back him up…

                Can he take chances, knowing that top players like Lambie are injured, Goosen is short on form, the exciting Cheetahs leak tries like a sieve, but the forward dominated Sharks are top of the S15 table…

                HM selects players based on his strategy. He does not select the best players available and then devise a strategy based on their strengths – the man is nervous and spooked so he’s going with what he knows, the wheelchair brigade.

                I wouldn’t want his job.

              • Roar Guru

                June 6th 2014 @ 11:42am
                Colin Kennedy said | June 6th 2014 @ 11:42am | ! Report

                I also have to say, despite the hype around Goosen, De Allende, Willie Roux, I have been distinctly unimpressed with the attacking skills of South African rugby – crash, bang, fall over seems to be about the extent of South Africa’s attacking repertoire.

                Clearly HM feels the same and is retreating into his shell with what he knows and trust – no vision, no imagination and a stupid focus on the next world cup, which we have no chance of winning by the way.

                Why not say, ok, let’s do blood a whole new type of South African rugby player at the next world cup so that we can win the one after that?

                I have absolutely no hope for the next one, or the one after that, the way this idiot is going. I hope he proves me wrong, but I know he won’t.

              • Roar Guru

                June 6th 2014 @ 11:54am
                Colin Kennedy said | June 6th 2014 @ 11:54am | ! Report

              • Roar Guru

                June 6th 2014 @ 12:36pm
                Colin Kennedy said | June 6th 2014 @ 12:36pm | ! Report

                I shouldn’t call him an idiot, I take that back. Just a wee bit frustrated…

          • June 6th 2014 @ 8:41am
            Who Needs Melon said | June 6th 2014 @ 8:41am | ! Report

            With the SA team being selected from all over the world it seems almost like one World 15 playing another. Be a great game to watch though. Trying to find out how I can do that from Oz. Can’t find it in the TV guide.

        • Roar Guru

          June 6th 2014 @ 3:00am
          Harry Jones said | June 6th 2014 @ 3:00am | ! Report

          There is something odd about Meyer and scrumhalves. Can you figure him out? Is it all about the box kick?

          • June 6th 2014 @ 5:47am
            Fatty Robinson said | June 6th 2014 @ 5:47am | ! Report

            There is something odd about selecting the two Steyns. Francois is overrated and overweight lacks jinking and sidestepping skills whilst Morne lacks attacking vision. What a pity there’s nobody in Saffer rugby of the calibre of a Danie Gerber
            The Steyns will kick and kick and kick and…………

            • Roar Guru

              June 6th 2014 @ 6:22am
              Harry Jones said | June 6th 2014 @ 6:22am | ! Report

              Frans Steyn actually doesn’t kick that much at 12; he just runs into and over people and offloads a bit.

              • June 8th 2014 @ 8:44am
                etienne marais said | June 8th 2014 @ 8:44am | ! Report

                …And then he, himself, also effects turnovers from the tackle situation, often.

        • June 6th 2014 @ 7:42pm
          jason8 said | June 6th 2014 @ 7:42pm | ! Report

          There is no doubt in my mind that we should have been seeing Reinach and Pollard starting for this series with Fourie backing them up. Its time to play the younger guys and let the old timers be there when the inevitable injuries mount. Pollard by the way is looking in commanding form in the JWC. He has that calm about him that all good 10’s should have. Its also ridiculous that F Steyn is playing with a knee injury, bad player management and could do him long term damage. Im not against giving JPP a run at 13 but lets see him do it regularly at Super rugby level, I have watched some of those Japanese games and for guys of his size its too easy. The less i say about Pienaar the better, he was a good player in his early days and has become far to ponderous for a 9.

          • Roar Guru

            June 6th 2014 @ 10:36pm
            biltongbek said | June 6th 2014 @ 10:36pm | ! Report

            I actually don’t rate Pollard that highly, what I have seen from him this season has been uninspiring. Haven’t watched this morning game yet, so will see how he went.

            • June 8th 2014 @ 8:51am
              etienne marais said | June 8th 2014 @ 8:51am | ! Report

              Elsewhere in this thread I saw it mentioned that Pollard plays Morne’s game. Unfortunately not correct at all; the first and major difference is that Pollard often attacks the gainline directly (unlike Morne). Review the Bulls against the Stormers game and see him beat the gainline six times by running direct. Unfortunately he has not had sufficient starts in Superugby to establish a reliable statistical package, but he is one to watch for next year, and a future in green-and-gold.

              • Roar Guru

                June 8th 2014 @ 5:03pm
                biltongbek said | June 8th 2014 @ 5:03pm | ! Report

                His kicking strategy is very similar to Morne, he plays a fully structured game, he isn’t a maverick and follows game plans.

                Hence he plays like Morne. 😉

              • June 9th 2014 @ 3:10am
                etienne marais said | June 9th 2014 @ 3:10am | ! Report

                With respect Mr Biltong, I suspect you might not have seen enough of his repertoire (which is understandable, since he has not featured as run-on flyhalf that often). He is highly intuitive and can play with much variation. He reads the game very well, and his vision is often translated into immediate tactical ascendancy. Review the game against the young Scots; look for his grubber, then his gather, then his angled box-kick, perfectly placed a metre inside the line, to send the wing over for a try. When last did you see such a combination (if ever) at any level of the game. I’m not sure whether Pollard is a “maverick” or not. Damn, I’m not even sure whether I quite understand what defines a maverick, but the sort of vision-confidence-execution displayed in that move is certainly “maverickish”. I have seen other similar intuitive brilliance from him (perhaps not at quite the same scale). Pollard is young, but highly talented; if given the space, he is going to develop into a formidable rugby player…perhaps even a superstar.

            • Roar Guru

              June 10th 2014 @ 1:59am
              Harry Jones said | June 10th 2014 @ 1:59am | ! Report

              I am with Etienne on this one. Pollard is a real athlete. Also, he’s aggressive. I think he can be our guy in the future if the Bulls don’t brainwash him. Hope he can make a move to another union.

      • June 8th 2014 @ 9:03am
        etienne marais said | June 8th 2014 @ 9:03am | ! Report

        “because there is NOTHING NEW TO LEARN from them”

        Heineke made it quite clear that, for him, this game was much less about “learning new things”, and much more about re-establishing the structures (arguably, potential winning formula) that we ended 2013 off with. If Heineke is going to experiment (which he no doubt will), he will take the incremental approach as opposed to the “revolutionary” approach. Hence, Ruan (a known, but unspectacular quantity) starting at nine, with Fourie (not fully battle-fit – apparently?) coming on sometime after sixty minutes. And that is just one example of Heineke’s careful (conservative) approach; there are at least five other examples. I used to be a fierce Heineke critic, but after reading everything on, and about him that I could lay my hands on, I now understand (very clearly) that there is certainly method in his “madness”.

    • June 6th 2014 @ 1:46am
      Roy Venter said | June 6th 2014 @ 1:46am | ! Report

      What happened to Eben .The King of SA Rugby

      • June 6th 2014 @ 1:51am
        Johnno said | June 6th 2014 @ 1:51am | ! Report

        He was seduced by the nightlife in Cape Town, as many a young players have been.

      • Roar Guru

        June 6th 2014 @ 2:43am
        biltongbek said | June 6th 2014 @ 2:43am | ! Report

        Eben has a foot injury that has kept him out

        • June 6th 2014 @ 4:42am
          Superba said | June 6th 2014 @ 4:42am | ! Report

          A foot injury is quite an unusual injury nê ? Do you know what happened to him or how he did it .

          • June 6th 2014 @ 4:54am
            Harry Jones said | June 6th 2014 @ 4:54am | ! Report

            He hurt it in France, I think. On that “pitch.”

          • June 6th 2014 @ 8:39am
            Who Needs Melon said | June 6th 2014 @ 8:39am | ! Report

            He said it was a foot but it looked more like 8 or 9 inches to me.

      • Roar Guru

        June 6th 2014 @ 2:44am
        Harry Jones said | June 6th 2014 @ 2:44am | ! Report

        Suffered a very bad foot injury and is at the very end of rehabilitation. Should be good for the Rugby Championship.

    • June 6th 2014 @ 3:13am
      terry82 said | June 6th 2014 @ 3:13am | ! Report

      That team meyers choosen is one of the pitiest I’ve ever seen I’ve followed the super rugby all year and has seen talent who deserves the chance I’ve had my own idea of a springok team tell me what u think of it: 15: willie le roux. 14:jp pietersen.
      13: damian dailende
      12: jan serfontein
      11:bjorn basson
      10: marnitz bozhoff
      9:kobus reinard
      8:jaco kriel /cap
      7:willem alberts
      6:marcel coetzee
      5:juandre kruger
      4:victor matfield
      3:werner kruger
      2:bismark du plesis
      1:dean greyling
      In my choice team u have speed strenth power and players who make first time tackles and steal a ball

      • Roar Guru

        June 6th 2014 @ 3:53am
        biltongbek said | June 6th 2014 @ 3:53am | ! Report

        Sorry but I disagree with you on a few players.

        JP Pietersen has shown zero form this season, I can’t think of any game he has shone in.

        Cornal Hendricks deserves a spot at wing.

        Juandre Kruger, no way, Lewies yes

        Dean Greyling no chance, he can’t scrum against a wet paperbag, Beast has been in great form as well.

      • June 6th 2014 @ 4:52am
        Harry Jones said | June 6th 2014 @ 4:52am | ! Report

        Jaco Kriel as captain and No. 8?

    • June 6th 2014 @ 3:59am
      terry82 said | June 6th 2014 @ 3:59am | ! Report

      Cornell hendricks is a 7s player he misses a lot of takles in 7s so we will see the weekend

      • Roar Guru

        June 6th 2014 @ 7:01am
        Harry Jones said | June 6th 2014 @ 7:01am | ! Report

        In Sevens, it’s easy to miss tackles no matter how good you are.

    • June 6th 2014 @ 5:22am
      felix said | June 6th 2014 @ 5:22am | ! Report

      @terry82 I disagree,that is not the best team that could be picked.
      B.Basson is nothing compared to Habana,Bryan is even faster believe it or not,in the air I’ve seen Bryan catch some stunners,cross kicks you name it so nothing there really,not even talk about tackling comparisons 😀
      Kriel couldnt scratch Vermeulen even if he wanted to.
      Though I agree with your centers I’d swap them De Allende at 12 and Jan at 13,Jan played some games for the Jnr boks at 13,De Allende hasn’t done outside centre since the school days “Habana once played prop at school” could he do it now 😀 chuckle chuckle??.

      Kruger and Greyling ay ay ay ay U DEFFINETLY ARE A BULLS SUPPORTER or a very good fake??.

    • June 6th 2014 @ 11:02am
      Suzy Poison said | June 6th 2014 @ 11:02am | ! Report

      A few things, I wouldn’t be too hung up on the opening 9 and 10 for this game. Meyer has said that Fourie Du Preez and Goosen will both get a full half of 40min. So he is in fact using this game as a trial.

      Secondly it will be interesting to see how Meyer’s game plan has evolved for this season. It’s no secret that while the Super 15 was on the go, Meyer and his team weren’t idle. Meyer and his teams, has been testing their theories about attack, defence, kick and chase game plans with a variety of U19 teams across the country.

      I think you will find, not only the selections a surprise, but the game plan on Saturday.

      • Roar Guru

        June 6th 2014 @ 12:06pm
        biltongbek said | June 6th 2014 @ 12:06pm | ! Report

        How did you find out about the U19 tests, I search for news about Meyer all the time and heard nothing in regards to that?

        • June 6th 2014 @ 1:26pm
          Suzy Poison said | June 6th 2014 @ 1:26pm | ! Report

          Hi Biltong

          Article by Bredan Venter…who I believe is one of the great rugby brains in South Africa. I always listen to what he has to say. If Venter rates Meyer’s preparation, then perhaps, the people of this blog are in for a surprise on Saturday.

          This is the quote:

          “I can reveal that while Super Rugby was in full swing, Meyer and his coaching triumvirate of Johann van Graan, Ricardo Laubscher and John McFarland experimented with various attack, defence, kick and set-piece strategies through the assistance of a number of under-19 rugby teams around the country.

          The public perception may be that the Bok technical team sit idle during Super Rugby but nothing could be further from the truth. Meyer is a meticulous planner and along with the aforementioned practical application of said strategies, he would have picked apart the opposition that lay in wait.”

          So I guess there is some hope for “Oupa” Boks…