Siyabonga Ntshingila
Siyabonga Ntshingila

Meyer plays it safe, predictably and justifiably

So a Springbok coach named a contentious squad and there are rumblings over his choice of captain? Now where have we heard that before?

To get the obvious out of the way, the Stormers trio of Aplon, Kolisi and De Jongh can consider themselves unlucky. Massively so in fact, but you know what, that happens with pretty much every Bok squad.

Aplon doesn’t need to prove his case to anyone, and Kolisi and De Jongh have time on their side. Kolisi for one will be a big star over the coming decade with his strength and industry. Marcell Coetzee, the man I believe snuck in ahead of him in the reckoning, hasn’t disgraced himself in the black of the Sharks and I think has the aptitude to be an international-level success.

As for the selections of Kankowski and Engelbrecht, I’m going to just have to trust the judgment of the man who built a Bulls dynasty from its late 90s ashes. I mean, the guy hasn’t even had one Test under his belt yet so let’s give him some room to prove himself, shall we?
I wasn’t very happy about the selection of Ruan Pienaar given how distinctly average he looked throughout last year, but a more sober mind figured having one of the leading players of the past European season in your team as you go up against England isn’t the worst move to make. Here’s hoping Gysie jnr proves me wrong.

Wynand Olivier’s selection is depressingly unsurprising. His Super Rugby form remains hard to ignore despite his consistent failure to impress at Test level. And well knew that Heyneke Meyer was going to select him. Every coach has that player they back beyond all reason. But if anyone can bring the best out of him, it’s his mentor. Right?

The interesting question will be the man who plays back-up hooker to Bismarck. Will Adriaan Strauss get a chance to state his case or will Chilliboy be rewarded for his impressive form after such an eventful career for one so young? It’s interesting that what the latter two provide is exactly what Bismarck lacks: leadership and a calm head. Strauss has experience on his side, but Chilliboy has seen his fair share of trench warfare in his career and what he has endured stands him in good stead in terms of maturity. Either way, we are wonderfully covered at the position.

Scrumhalf is a bit of a worry. If Ruan fails to keep up to the pace, we are left with Frans Hougaard and a classic best of the rest in Jano Vermaak. Vermaak can be trusted against England. He is a decent enough player, but looking forward to the Rugby Championship, I worry. Guess we really do need Ruan to fire don’t we?

Zane Kirchner will be Meyer’s first choice fullback in a kicking heavy contest such as against England, but expect Pat Lambie to come into the reckoning for the Rugby Championship. I don’t get the hate towards Kirchner to be honest. He isn’t a 9/10 x-factor talent like Lambie, but he covers all the bases and rarely if ever makes mistakes. Most importantly, he knows what Meyer wants. I can’t begrudge the coach playing it safe in his first Test series.