One squad for Baabaas, and another for the Tests?
Yes sir, yes sir ... Allister has his hands full looking to fill vital positions
WITH possibly 15 Springboks who did duty in the Rugby Championship unavailable to run out against the Barbarians at Wembley on November 5, expect a few unlikely tourists when Allister Coetzee names his squad today.
As the match against the Baabaas falls outside World Rugby’s Test window, none of the overseas- based Boks will be available to Coetzee. So Willem Alberts, Johan Goosen, Bryan Habana, Steven Kitshoff, Morne Steyn, Willie le Roux, Francois Hougaard, Francois Louw, Vincent Koch, Jaco Kriel, Franco Mostert, Warren Whiteley, Lionel Mapoe and Elton Jantjies will all be missing.
Lood de Jager, who copped a one- match suspension for dangerously charging into a ruck against the All Blacks in Durban a few weeks ago, will also sit out the first clash of the Boks’ end-of-year tour.
Louw, after recently picking up a hamstring injury playing for Bath, will miss the entire Northern Hemisphere trip, opening the door for Kriel to make his first start in a Bok jersey.
The big question ahead of today’s squad announcement – which will actually be two squads, one for the Baabaas game and one for the Tests against England, Italy and Wales – is who’ll fill in for the overseas-based Boks against the Baabaas? With Steyn and Jantjies both unavailable, Pat Lambie is certain to start at No 10 after earlier playing at fullback. But it is understood that Coetzee has been impressed by the performances of the Free State Cheetahs flyhalf Niel Marais, as well as Blue Bulls pivot Tian Schoeman. Marais’ Cheetahs teammates, wing Sergeal Petersen, captain and centre Francois Venter and prop Ox Nche are also on the radar, and possibly for all four matches. With there still being uncertainty around the fitness of Sikhumbuzo Notshe and Siya Kolisi, who both missed the Rugby Championship, Coetzee is looking for a back-up to Kriel at openside flank. It is understood that Golden Lions loosie Kwagga Smith, is in the running, along with Bulls rookie Roelof Smit. Whether Duane Vermeulen gets the nod is anyone’s guess but it is unlikely, as he hasn’t played in months. Fellow France- based campaigner, Frans Steyn has been touted to possibly make his return to the national team, and t he same goes for Bismarck du Plessis. Coetzee also has to search all over again for a tighthead prop as only Koch will be available for the three Tests. The Bok coach will need to find a No 3 for the Baabaas outing – maybe Trevor Nyakane will get a proper run, or Lizo Gqoboka will be given an opportunity.
Frans Malherbe and Julian Redelinghuys are also sidelined so will there be – as some have speculated – a recall for Jannie du Plessis?
In some good news, wing Ruan Combrinck has recovered from injury and should crack the nod for the overseas excursion.
Lions teammate Rohan Janse van Rensburg will also be hoping to get a look- in after several strong performances in Super Rugby and the Currie Cup.
And don’t be surprised if Ireland- based Ruan Pienaar is recalled, especially as he familiar with the conditions in Europe. The Boks gather in Johannesburg tomorrow to begin preparations.
SOLID AS THEY COME: Ox Nche is one of many uncapped players on the national radar for the end-of-year tour.