Likely Springbok Team To Face Ireland, a look into the crystall ball.
As I was getting my usual dose of Super Rugby this weekend, I realized crunch time for Allister Coetzee to pick a Springbok squad is coming ever closer and players’ time to impress is becoming less and less, this lead me to ponder how a Springbok starting line-up will look like under the new Allister Coetzee regime.
The 15 men who Coetzee will likely trust with the starting role, at least for the first couple of matches will largely depend on 3 factors:
- The game plan Allister Coetzee will take on and the direction he plans to lead the team in (we have wrote about it here) – But in short, we believe Coetzee will lean heavily towards a defence-orientated game plan, much like he used with the Stormers who he had coached for several years.
- That ugly word transformation – With the 50-50 selection policy adopted by the South African rugby union and Coetzee being the best coach with transformation in South African rugby, we can certainly expect to see a lot more quota inclusions.
- Familiarity – Like all new coaches Coetzee will not like to venture into uncharted territories, and would first like to get a few wins under the belt to put the butterflies to rest, thus do not be surprised if you see a number of Stormers or long serving Springboks, whom many might argue are past their due, included in the starting XV.
So with the above considered what will a likely Springbok team under the Allister Coetzee regime likely look like, at least for the first handful of matches? Let The Sport Freak look into the crystal ball for you.
Note: The below team is compiled with the assumption that there will be no injuries to the mentioned players during the remainder of the Super Rugby tournament, injured players, not expected to recover in time for the Rugby Championship, are not eligible for selection.
The Sport Freak – Crystalball Starting XV
- Willie Leroux. (Sharks)
Surely very little doubt exist Leroux is the best 15 in South African rugby? One of the few players who can start an attack from anywhere.
- Courtnall Skosan / Ruan Combrinck (Lions)
Has yet to proof himself at international level however, he is having a stellar season for the Lions in 2015 and most importantly he is both competent and counts towards a quota selection (sorry folks Courtnall doesn’t deserve that but it is a genuine selection consideration, see why we are arguing quota selection policies are unfair towards players?)
Quite possibly the best winger at the moment in South African Rugby, say what you want about the Lions but they have some brilliant wingers. A team with both Combrink and Skosan is also very much possible depending whether Coetzee will opt to include Habana.
- JP Pietersen (Sharks)
Touch and go here, a Lionel Mapoe selection is not out of the question but then again like we mentioned above, Coetzee would not want to venture too deep into uncharted territories. We believe that extra experience JP brings to the team might get him the nod at centre, albeit playing him slightly out of position, also, he has aged a bit now and doesn’t possess that raw pace he once had to warrant a selection for an international winger.
- Damian de Allende (Stormers)
Strong on his feet, experienced and well familiar with Coetzee, this one is a sure selection. Assuming no injuries comes de Allende’s way again, touch wood.
- Bryan Habana (Toulon)
Controversial selection perhaps as many believe his best has long past, however, Coetzee will relish the experience he brings to a “youngish” backline and Coetzee is well familiar with Bryan both under Coetzee’s assistant coach tenure under the Jake White regime and during Bryan Habana’s time at the Stormers.
- Elton Jantjies (Lions)
We have made our views clear about Jantjies, and have written an article about it, in short we believe he is good but is he international standard good? We don’t believe so, but hope he proofs us wrong!
Perhaps Lambie would have been the 1st choice flyhalf but can you imagine the outcry of the non-watching South African politicians if Jantjies is not selected?
- Faf De Klerk (Lions)
Two positions where South African rugby is sorely lacking is at flyhalf and scrumhalf, however, Faf DeKlerk has been a welcome revelation this season. With that being said, his decision making and tactical kicking is still very raw.
- Duane Vermeulen (Toulon)
Played several years under Coetzee, being one of the highest paid rugby players in the world pays testimony to just how good and valuable he is to a team.
- Siya Kolisi (Stormers)
Good player and well familiar with Allister Coetzee’s coaching style. Are there better 7’s possibly? However, Kolisi is almost a dead certainty as there needs to be a certain number of black South African rugby players included in the starting 15 (Again sorry Kolisi we truly believe you are a good player, but we have to point it out like it is.)
- Schalk Burger (Stormers)
Allister Coetzee & Schalk Burger have known each other for years and brings great experience to the line-up. You could make a Francois Louw argument but then again SARU would like Allister to select local based players as much as possible, that’s not to say “Flouw” might not play off the bench, however.
- Lood De Jager (Cheetahs)
Tall, hardworking young and experienced almost a certainty.
- Eben Etzebeth (Stormers)
Same as above, just with the added benefit that he is well familiar with Allister Coetzee’s coaching style who played a large role in Etzebeth’s rise to international rugby stardom, another certainty for selection providing Etzebeth manages to stay injury free, something which has plagued him as of late.
- Frans Malherbe (Stormers)
The way how the Stormers have utilized Malherbe this season makes little sense. Nevertheless, there is no denying that Malherbe is a terrific young player and is yet another player Allister Coetzee is well familiar with.
- Adriaan Strauss (Bulls)
It feels, as of late, once a player goes to the Bulls their career just goes on a downward spiral. Strauss was inspirational when he played for the Cheetahs but has had a very average season in 2016 thus far, nevertheless because there is so much uncertainty whether SARU will implement a “No foreign player selection policy” in the near future, we feel Adriaan Strauss might get the nod over Bismarck at hooker.
- Tendai Mtawarira (Sharks)
The cries of “Beeeasst” has slowly started to disappear from stadiums around the world, and he certainly is not the player he used to be, nevertheless he brings greats experience and (again we hate to say this, really we do, but counts as a quota selection. See how politicians is forcing racism onto South Africans?)
Conclusion – The Breakdown
All and all we have:
- 5 Players from the Stormers.
- 3 players from the Lions.
- 3 Players from the Sharks.
- 3 Foreign based players 2 from Toulon, 1 From Bath.
- 1 Player from the Bulls
- 1 Player from the Cheetahs
South African sports minister, Fikile Mbalula will be pleased to know a team with 7 players of colour has been selected, and perhaps more pleasingly for the broader rugby public the majority of those are real quality players, selected on merit!.
What do you think of our selection? Do you think our predicted team will come close to the team Allister Coetzee will select for the 1st match against Ireland? Drop us a comment and let us know your thoughts!