New Bok squad, Same old Heyneke

As a Sharks fan that hums "We are Black, We are White" every day while shaving and regularly has random public outbursts of "That's why we call it The Tank", my nights over the next month are no doubt going to be filled with nightmares of JDJ's brilliant fend and step for a try that changed the momentum of the Final and that Greek kid's incessant drop kicks that inevitably sealed a well deserved victory for WP.  Luckily however, with the announcement of the Bok squad for the end of year tour of England, Scotland and Ireland Heyneke Meyer, and his ever controversial selections, has given me some where else for my Rugby mind to wonder.

Bok Squad:

Forwards: Willem Alberts, Arno Botha, Schalk Brits, Pat Cilliers, Marcell Coetzee, Eben Etzebeth, Juandré Kruger, CJ van der Linde, Francois Louw, Flip van der Merwe, Franco van der Merwe, Tendai Mtawarira, Jannie du Plessis, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Gurthro Steenkamp, Adriaan Strauss, Duane Vermeulen.

Backs: Juan de Jongh, Jean de Villiers (captain), Francois Hougaard, Elton Jantjies, Zane Kirchner, Patrick Lambie, Lionel Mapoe, Lwazi Mvovo, Ruan Pienaar, JP Pietersen, Raymond Rhule, Morné Steyn, Jaco Taute, Jano Vermaak.

The squad as a whole is strong despite of the MANY injuries currently draining Heyneke's player resources, but being the generous man that he is, Heyneke made sure to make a few debatable call up's just so that I would be able to write about something besides Craig Burden's abysmal line out throwing.

Where I celebrate Meyer on his selections of JDJ,  Raymond Rhule, Franco van der Merwe and Schalk Brits, there are inclusions and with that exclusions that really test my faith in whom I once considered to be up there with Nick Mallet as the top rugby brains in the country.

The selection of Schalk Brits probably wont be too popular outside of the Cape, but with Bismark and Liebenberg injured and Burden showing that he could get tips from an U12 player in the throwing department, the man considered to be the best hooker in the Aviva Premiership and desperate to pull on the Bok jersey again, fully deserves his place in the squad.

With the lack of line out intelligence Franco van der Merwe's inclusion is a smart one, while Rhule was electric through out the competition and like Mvovo in 2010, his explosive pace just couldn't be ignored after the sad withdrawal of the very inform Bryan Habana.

Praise over..rant time!

Upon selection Pat Lambie was bracketed as a Fullback! Not even the dreaded 'Utility Back' was attached next to the name of the prodigiously talented 22 year old that should, without question, be the man wearing the number 10 jersey when the Boks take on those pasty ale drinkers from the North. Meyers decision to once again only include Lambie as a Fullback means we will likely have to endure the currently dreadful Morne Steyn at 10 and the ever bland Kirchner at the back. Oh how I yearn to see a Bok backline that includes Lambie, JDJ and Taute at 15! Morne Steyn is a shadow of the player whom the Boks based so much of their previous success. He is stretched mentally, and his lack of confidence has resulted in him not only continually receiving the ball too deep to build a multi-phase attacking platform, but his once prolific kicking accuracy has deserted him. Steyn should have been given time off to refocus and refine the parts of his game that are failing him. Kirchner simply does not offer enough as an international fullback and I feel under most other coaches the talents of Gio Aplon or Louis Ludik would have been preferred in the squad.

The two inclusions that really make me want to go on a 'Hitler YouTube video' style rant are those of CJ van der Linder and Arno Botha. Yes Arno Botha had a good Currie Cup and will no doubt feature in Bok coaches minds in the future, but his inclusion at the expense of Keegan Daniel is not worth debate. It's just wrong. CJ's inclusion warrants some discussion with experience in the Northern Hemisphere being vital, but when the experience will be utilised as baggage handler..I just don't see the point. CJ has been woeful in recent years but has continually been an attractive bench option as he has the ability to cover both props. However, the IRB have recently expanded the bench at International level to include two props..thankfully bringing and end to uncontested scrums and the age of dual props! CJ is the fifth choice prop behind Gurthro and Pat Cilliers, and with his 'versatility' no longer required, the out right destructive scrumming prowess of JC Janse van Rensberg deserved to be integrated in to the Bok environment.

A note to be made is that Francois Louw has sustained a neck injury playing for Bath and could well be ruled out for the tour. Your guess is as good as mine as to who Meyer will call up if Flo is ruled out as it will depend on his want for a specialist fetcher.

So with the squad selected and Heyneke's intentions seemingly clear, don't expect much more than a limited kick, chase and squeeze game plan from the Boks that should have them under-performing on the field and us snoozing on our couches.

Lets all hope I'm wrong! Go Bokke! 

Also unlucky to miss out after truly immense Currie Cup campaigns:  Anton Bresler, Deon Fourie, Jean Deysel.


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