by Kobus Pretorius (CPUT)
There’s been a lot of debate recently about Peter de Villiers team to play the All Blacks in the Tri-Nations opener. Some have argued that De Villiers has failed to select his best possible XV in order to beat New Zealand at home for the first time in a decade.
Generally people seem to be pretty happy with the forwards although there has been surprise at the inclusion of Joe van Niekerk above Pierre Spies and Ryan Kankowski.
I don’t understand why Van Niekerk’s selection has been a surprise. He had a good Super14, played very well when given a chance against Italy and has something like 47 caps.
Compare that to Spies who only played a handful of matches in the regional tournament, was ordinary against Wales and seems to stay in front of the pecking order even though he’s form has been pretty average.
Last but definitely not least is Ryan Kankowski. Kanko had a brilliant Super14 but unfortunately got injured in the Italy game. After seeing that knock he took it’s perplexing to think that he was considered for selection ahead of the Kiwi clash.
Apparently he didn’t suffer a concussion after being stretchered off the field but one would think that he should sit out this all important game. So when considering all this, the selection of Big Joe was really a no-brainer.
Now let’s move on to the backs. Ricky Januarie and Buth James pick themselves along with Jean de Villiers at inside centre. Adrian Jacobs’ selection isn’t a surprise either because he’s been backed all season by coach De Viliers and there was no indication that he would be replaced ahead of the Southern Hemisphere showpiece.
On the wing Bryan Habana picks himself even though he hasn’t scored a try since the semi-finals of the World Cup last year. Akona Ndungane’s inclusion, however, is a surprise seeing that he only made his debut two weeks ago against Italy. JP Petersen shouldn’t be an option either because he also is out of form and low on confidence.
What maybe should’ve happened was to move Conrad Jantjies to the wing to accommodate the experience of Percy Montgomery at fullback. Picking Jantjies ahead of Monty should not have happened because even though he has done nothing wrong to be axed, he has played on the wing before.
Add his prodigious boot to the mix and the Boks would’ve had a potent back three, especially in the wet conditions expected in Wellington. Frans Steyn was never an option to play wing because I don’t think we will ever see a white player starting at wing ever again. Besides, with Petersen and Ndungane there, De Villiers wouldn’t have been able to justify Steyn’s selection on the wing.
The bench looks strong with Luke Watson the right option as the replacement loose forward because he can cover both blindside flank as well as eight man, making sure that South Africa never lose their effectiveness at the breakdown.
In the end one of two things will happen. Either the Springboks will beat the All Blacks in New Zealand for the first time in ten years and thereby justify De Villiers’s selection policy. Or the Boks will lose and the coach will be wiser for the experience as it will open his eyes with regards to certain selections.