By a Whisker
The biggest plus to come out of Saturday’s nail-biter is that the Springboks came back twice in one match from a hopeless situation and eventually managed to win by one point. I tried imagining what the Welsh must have felt like after that final penalty try – it must have been awful.
Heyneke’s admission that he has never seen the members of his squad as tired at this time of the year simply confirms what most of us already know.
An article in Die Burger this morning puts it in perspective. Jannie du Plessis played in eight matches, four of which were overseas, before playing four tests, one of which was unofficial. After this it is back to the Super Series, and with the Sharks having to win well in the remaining two matches, there is little chance of them being rested.
Should they reach the final (OK, Tony, when they reach the final) they will have two weeks before the first test against Argentina takes place on 16 August. Naturally, Heyneke will want his squad in top shape, so there will not be much of a break.
Ironically, those least in need of rest will miss the test in PE. The seven players returning to Europe were not half as exhausted as the guys playing in the Super series.
Who will face Scotland?
Can Heyneke afford to field an entirely new side against Scotland? The entire front row, Matfield, Vermeulen and Alberts seriously needs a break to recuperate. As if this is not enough, the usual shot in the bows hit the side with the unexpected call for more black players to be included in the side.
In my view, Meyer erred in picking Wynand Olivier on the bench. S’bura Sithole had a good season, was with the squad all the time, and should have been chosen. The problem is that you provide critics with ammunition if you miss opportunities.
None of the black players in the squad are there as token players – they are there on merit and will all do the team proud if chosen to play with the vastly experienced players. The question that arises now is what will happen if the team for Saturday is loaded with rookies? Is this fair to the black players?
Brendan Nell wrote an interesting article Who will start at 10 for the Boks on the Supersport website. Apart from who should start as fly half, there will of course be other positions that will need to be filled because of players going back to Europe. Bryan Habana and Flo Louw’s positions need to be filled, which opens the door for Lwazi Mvovo and Siya Kolisi, although Marcel Coetzee is possibly in better form.
My own choice in the number 10 jersey would be Johan Goosen, with Pollard on the bench. My reasoning is simply that you are never sure just how long Goosen will stay injury-free, so having him come on from the bench would be far more of a risk than having him in the starting line-up. Marnitz Boshoff could well be on the bench too, being able to cover both the fly half and fullback positions.
Adriaan Strauss coming in for Bismarck is a no-brainer, but we appear to be low on possible replacements for Jannie du Plessis, who desperately needs a break.
I am really looking forward to seeing how Meyer tackles this tough issue. Who knows, this may just be the spark that one or two players who were overlooked in the paststake their claims.