So, the burning question that desperately needs answering in the South African Rugby World is who will succeed Heyneke Meyer as Springbok coach? Will Jake White, the prodigal son return to the team he led to World Cup glory in 2007? Will Rassie Erasmus take the reigns and use his innovative style of play to take South Africa to the promise land? Or will frontrunner Allistair Coetzee bring his smash mouth style he incorporated at the Stormers to the Boks in 2016? It seems as if no one knows the answer to this, including SARU. Even with SARU’s indecision becoming a growing issue planning must commence to make sure The Boks are ready to face Ireland when they reach our shores, so if you were the Springbok coach who would you pick in your first squad? This is who I would pick, just keep in mind players such as Pat Lambie and Handre Pollard will not be considered because of injury. I will also limit myself to choosing 4 overseas based players. Here goes nothing SARU, my 32 players for the inbound tour versus the fighting Irish.
Loosehead Props: (3)
Steven Kitshoff (Bordeaux)
The “Red danger” or “Rooi gevaar” as he is known in Cape Town has been exceptional for the past two seasons and has kept that form up in France. Solid at the set piece and dangerous in the loose, he should be the perfect fit for a more attacking game-plan.
Tendai Mtawarira (Sharks)
Beaaaaast! The darling of Durban will most certainly don the green and gold once more this season. He’s a World beater with a boat load of experience and he has grown in confidence since his appointment as Sharks captain.
Coenie Oosthuizen (Sharks)
The two most important reasons to have Coenie in the squad: His explosive ball carrying ability as well as him being able to pack down on either side of the scrum.
Tighthead Props: (2)
Frans Malherbe (Stormers)
The man who usurped Jannie du Plessis at the end of 2015 will most definitely be considered the front runner to continue his impressive ways in 2016. Malherbe is one of the most feared and respected scrummagers on the planet and also has the experience of now co- captaining the Stormers.
Trevor Nyakane (Bulls)
Another man capable of playing on both sides of the scrum, Nyakane is a solid contributor at the set piece as well as a devastating player in the tight loose.
Adriaan Strauss (Bulls)
Adriaan Strauss has never disappointed in a Bok jersey and he all but dethroned Bismark du Plessis towards the end of last season with his more expansive style of play. He is a great leader as well as trustworthy line-out thrower.
Malcolm Marx (Lions)
The forward in form in the early stages of Super Rugby, Malcolm Marx has always been pegged by experts to be a Springbok. His brute strength makes him a nuisance around the breakdown and with the ball in hand.
Bongi Mbonambi (Stormers)
Bongi bares a striking resemblance to Mike Tyson and he sure does pack a punch. He causes problems for the opposition on defence and whilst carrying the ball.
Eben Etzebeth (Stormers)
Compare him to Godzilla because this man is an absolute terror for the opposition. He is the enforcer and heartbeat of the Springboks.
Pieter- Steph du Toit (Stormers)
After most of his young career has been blighted by injuries it seems du Toit is finally healthy and is having a great Super Rugby Season so far. He’s got the build and physicality of an International Lock and he has shown he can dominate the line- out.
Lood de Jager( Cheetahs)
SA Player of the Year 2015 Lood de Jager will most certainly be a part of any plans the Boks have in 2016. What a player to have as an impact sub when Etzebeth and du Toit are done bashing the opposition for 60 minutes.
Franco Mostert (Lions)
It had to be, the man that’s doing so well in the engine room for the Lions. What a player with ball in hand! Also gives you that extra dimension on attack with his offloading ability.
Loose trio: (5)
Warren Whiteley (Lions)
The most impressive and impactful number 8 playing on South African soil needs to start getting the recognition he deserves, a great leader as well as one of the most gifted athletes you’ll ever see on a rugby field. He is a great link between forwards and backs.
Duane Vermeulen (Toulon)
I’m not the biggest fan of choosing overseas players but in this case, it’s Thor, one of the players of 2015 and a leader in the Springbok camp previously, he would add plenty of experience. Vermeulen is a key player at the breakdown and also organises the team expertly on defence. He is somewhat of a necessity.
Jaco Kriel (Lions)
The dynamite kid Jaco Kriel has shown over the past two seasons that he has the pedigree to be a Springbok. Adept at 6 and 7, he’s a scary player to defend because of his raw pace and power.
Jean- Luc du Preez (Sharks)
Jean- Luc might only be 20 years of age but he has got Springbok written all over him. He has performed at a very high level in the Currie Cup as well as the early rounds of Super Rugby and thoroughly deserves to be a part of the Springbok set up. He is an immense ball carrier with underrated handling abilities.
Marcell Coetzee (Sharks)
He might be heading off to Ireland pretty soon but Marcell Coetzee is just too good to ignore at the moment. Abrasive and physical, he gives it his all for 80 minutes and is a great all round flanker.
Cobus Reinach (Sharks)
The best number 9 in South Africa in recent years, the only reason Cobus Reinach isn’t a house-hold name is because Fourie du Preez was above him in the pecking order. You have to feel sorry for Reinach, he is obviously the most talented scrumhalf in SA but political agendas called for Rudi Paige to go to the World Cup in 2015 instead of him. Well, not here. His explosive pace will be a massive asset when he’s darting around the breakdown.
Faf de Klerk (Lions)
The little engine that could, Faf has set the World of Rugby on fire for the Lions for the past two seasons and doesn’t look like he’s going to stop anytime soon. The perfect blend of feistiness and talent for a number 9, Faf has great vision and a crisp pass.
Francois Hougaard (Springbok 7’s)
This might be quite a contentious decision but I want to play a quick game where kicking from the base is limited so who better to have at number 9 than good old Hougie. He would be the perfect super sub, dancing his way past tired tight forwards in the 70th minute.
Elton Jantjies (Lions)
Prince Elton can consider himself very lucky with the likes of Pat Lambie and Handre Pollard sitting on the sidelines but then again, there is no better player to build an attacking game around than the darling of Joburg. His natural talent and willingness to play flat and on the gain line can only benefit those around him.
Joe Pietersen (Sharks)
The almost Springbok will be the perfect back up to the sometimes volatile Jantjies. He is a solid player with a great boot and quick hands and feet. Rob du Preez also came up but his injury looks quite serious at the moment.
Lionel Mapoe (Lions)
Equally adept in the midfield and on the wing, Mapoe has just been sensational the past few months. Great weapon in attack and solid in defence, he also possesses searing pace.
Frans Steyn (Montpellier)
I know, I know. This might be a difficult one for me to pull of but Frans Steyn is only 28 years old and I rate him as one of the best to ever pull the Bok jersey over his head. He’s intelligent, physical and has a canon on his foot. He also has experience and has won a World Cup, something I sorely need in my squad
Damian de Allende ( Stormers)
Injured now but he will be back in time, de Allende really grew in 2015 and deserved all the accolades that came his way. A great distributor at 12, he also has the ability to tear defences to shreds all by his lonesome.
Francois Venter (Cheetahs)
Francois Venter stands out to me because of his unbelievable work- rate and he has really shown himself to be World-class. He is a great player to have in the trenches with you.
Jesse Kriel (Bulls)
Greece lightning might be showing some poor form at the moment but as they say; form is temporary, class is permanent and Jesse Kriel has plenty of class. He will also do well with more ball coming his way.
Back Three: (5)
Seabelo Senatla (SA 7’s)
The best Rugby player on the 7’s circuit right now! He might not be as quick as Carlin Isles but he damn sure comes close. I want speed on the outside and Senatla is also an extraordinary finisher so sorry Neil Powell, he’s mine (hypothetically).
Cheslin Kolbe (Stormers)
Typical South African mentality, “He’s too small”. I don’t agree. Brave in defence, tactical kicking is strong as well as positioning and deadly pace as well as a ankle breaking step. I call that a win.
Willie le Roux (Sharks)
Andre Joubert the 2nd is just a special player. He sees things that others don’t on a rugby field, his attacking instinct really is second to none.
Ruan Combrinck (Lions)
A solid player at 14 or 15, Combrinck has impressed with his skill and flair as well as his incredible work ethic for someone stuck out on the wing most of the time.
Lwazi Mvovo (Sharks)
I feel like Lwazi is seriously underrated and has always looked to be 10 times the player people give him credit for. He’s got pace to burn and has covered the number 15 position successfully in recent years, putting another feather in this cap. He has improved greatly when it comes to tactical kicking and under the high ball.
Written by: Stefan Loubser