Gio Aplon, Trevor Nyakane*, JJ Engelbrecht, Lionel Mapoe*, Wiehahn Herbst* and Demetri Catrakilis*.
Tendai Mtawarira, Trevor Nyakane*, Jannie du Plessis, Coenie Oosthuizen, Wiehahn Herbst*, Adriaan Strauss, Bismarck du Plessis, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Eben Etzebeth, Flip van der Merwe, Juandré Kruger, Pieter-Steph du Toit*, Siya Kolisi*, Marcell Coetzee, Willem Alberts, Arno Botha*, Lappies Labuschagne*, Pierre Spies, Ryan Kankowski
Jano Vermaak, Francois Hougaard, Pat Lambie, Morné Steyn, Elton Jantjies, Demetri Catrakilis*, Jean de Villiers, Juan de Jongh, Jan Serfontein*, Robert Ebersohn*, JJ Engelbrecht, Bryan Habana, Lwazi Mvovo, Raymond Rhule*, Lionel Mapoe*, Bjorn Basson, Gio Aplon, Zane Kirchner, Willie le Roux*
While the 69 time capped Springbok has not played much rugby in the last two years due to an Achilles injury, he is currently training and will decide the timing of his comeback after assessments later this month.
Smith is reportedly feeling no pain after training with the Cheetahs and is considering delaying his move to French club Bayonne until after this year’s Super Rugby campaign.
The legendary loose forward last played for the Springboks at Twickenham in 2010 and last lined up for the Cheetahs against the Bulls in early 2011. If his return is successful, there is no doubt that Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer will consider recalling the giant flanker to add some much experience and leadership to his young Bok side.
The Boks arrived in a cold and wet Dublin earlier this week and will begin their three match tour on Saturday against the Irish. Meyer believes that the core group he has at the moment will form the back bone of his squad going into the 2015 World Cup and will look to build around them over the coming years. He is eager for players to take control of their jerseys and establish themselves as the leaders of the future, an element that the team is lacking at the moment.
“This is my first opportunity and probably my last to see which guys can play away from home. I want to see which guys can play in these conditions and which guys want to go and play in the World Cup. And not just the World Cup but every second game going forward because I don’t want to chop and change going forward. I wanted to use this first year to know the players who want to play for South Africa and what type of player I need. If you look at the team, I haven’t changed a lot, it was more because of injuries so I got a good understanding of where we are, but this is the final hurdle for the players to show that they really want to be a part of this team.” ,” said Meyer.
Meyer also commented on the passion that he is expecting to see from players who “want” to play for their country. After a gruelling season it is easy for players to start winding down but Meyer insists that this will be a good measure of who he wants to be part of the squad.
“I know it’s been a long season and I know the guys are really tired; it’s the toughest season in the history of South African rugby, but I really want guys who want to play for South Africa. A guy like Schalk [Brits] is a great example because when I phoned him he said to me, ‘Coach, I don’t care what I do, even if I just hold bags for three weeks I just want to be part of the set-up. That’s the type of mentality and character I want in this team. There are no excuses. I understand that the players’ welfare comes first but when you put on that green and gold jersey you represent your country, your family, so I want guys who really want to play for South Africa. I want them to commit to excellence, That’s one thing we committed to from the start of our campaign and we need to increase and improve on that. And also to commit to work ethic. Although it’s been a long season there are no excuses, if you prepare for the Boks I want them to be thoroughly prepared.” He added.
It seems that Meyer has got his head screwed on the right way, despite some of the public outcries. He is building a team that want to be Springboks, who want to pull on the hallowed green and gold and want to succeed. Not just a group of wannabee rock stars who play international rugby for the fame and money. We have the players to develop, we have the competitions, both domestic and international to prepare our players, we just need the cutting edge that gets us over the line in those tight games and helps us nail down the coffins of the lesser teams. I firmly believe that once that passion, that no nonsense mentality comes back into South African rugby we will be well on the way to championing the world.
The Spingbok flank will undergo surgery on his groin in the next week and therefore be ruled out of the end of year tour of Europe which starts in a couple of weeks.
This is a recurring which kept him out of the last Springbok test against the All Blacks at Soccer City in Soweto earlier this month, however he did make a comeback for the Blue Bulls in the Currie Cup two weeks ago.
Blue Bulls doctor Org Strauss confirmed the reports earlier today: “It is a chronic groin injury, he went to see a specialist on Tuesday morning and it was confirmed that he has what is called Sportmen’s Groin. He will be out for six to eight weeks which obviously rules him out of the end of year tour, but he will be able to start training again in January,”
Bok coach Heyneke Meyer now has a selection crisis ahead of him in this position as injuries have kept out all of his choice players. Pogieter will probably be replaced by either Sharks captain Keegan Daniel, forgotten Springbok Dewald Potgieter or even Baby Bock captain Arno Botha who is pegged for Springbok greatness.
Pieterson was the form back (if not player) of the Super Rugby competition when he injured his thumb, forcing him to miss the final against the Chiefs. He had regained the form that saw him win the World Cup as a youngster and would almost defiantly have been in Heyneke Meyer’s Boks plans for the Rugby Championship.
Sharks – 15 Louis Ludik, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12 Tim Whitehead, 11 JP Pietersen, 10 Meyer Bosman, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Keegan Daniel (c), 7 Jean Deysel, 6 Jacques Botes, 5 Anton Bresler, 4 Jandre Marais, 3 Wiehahn Herbst, 2 Pieter Dixon, 1 Dale Chadwick
Subs: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Allan Dell, 18 Peet Marais, 19 Tera Mtembu, 20 Cobus Reinach, 21 Riaan Viljoen, 22 S’bura Sithole
Loftus Versfeld could be a watershed moment for both coaches; the winner could go on to take their team to the 2015 World Cup in England and the loser could start packing his bags and dusting off the old CV. Both coaches have been heavily maligned by their local media, for poor player management, picking the wrong players and for sticking to a game plan that quite clearly is not working.
There is a contrast, almost an opposite scenario that has developed in each camp. Where one coach (Deans) is not getting along with his fly-half Quade Cooper and the other (Meyer) is continuing to include his totally out-of-form fly-half, Morne Steyn, in the starting 15. Number 10 is the most important decision maker on the field and without the coaches backing or a game plan that suits their style, the both attack and defence tend go be a bit all over the place. And this is exactly what we have seen from the Wallabies and Springboks, who have produced very little decent rugby this winter.
The winner of Saturday’s match in the South African capital could save his job, whilst the lost match for the loser might just be the last straw. Deans has coached the Wallabies more than any other coach in their history, recently breaking Bob Dwyer’s record, whilst Meyer has been in charge for just 7 weeks, which could count in his favour if the Boks decide to throw another game away.
Growing resentment and poor play relations could see Deans get the boot after the Rugby Championship even if they beat the Springboks on Saturday, as he has failed to turn the Australians into the world-beaters, as he had promised at the beginning of his tenure.
Whatever the result and whoever gets the chop, this writer will be hoping that the rugby on display resembles that of two of the top 3 sides in world, not the half-heart and misdirected 80 minute dog-shows that have happened so far.