The Springbok team to face the World XV in Cape Town proofs very interesting:
Willie le Roux (Toyota Cheetahs), JP Pietersen (Cell C Sharks), Jesse Kriel (Vodacom Bulls), Damian de Allende (DHL Stormers), Bryan Habana (Toulon), Handré Pollard ( Vodacom Bulls), Ruan Pienaar (Ulster), Warren Whiteley (Emirates Lions), Marcell Coetzee (Cell C Sharks), Francois Louw (Bath), Victor Matfield (captain, Vodacom Bulls), Eben Etzebeth (DHL Stormers), Jannie du Plessis (Cell C Sharks), Bismarck du Plessis (Cell C Sharks), Tendai Mtawarira (Cell C Sharks). Replacements: Adriaan Strauss (Vodacom Bulls), Trevor Nyakane (Vodacom Bulls), Vincent Koch (DHL Stormers), Oupa Mohoje (Toyota Cheetahs), Schalk Burger (DHL Stormers), Cobus Reinach (Cell C Sharks), Pat Lambie (Cell C Sharks), Jean de Villiers (DHL Stormers).
There can be little doubt that our provincial sympathies will play a big role in how we view these selections. One obviously has to have regard for the realities facing Heyneke.
Firstly, this is not an official test, and allows him to experiment with players like Jesse Kriel, Warren Whiteley and Vincent Koch. Injuries before and during the World Cup to key players may necessitate calling on such players, and you do not want to put them on the line without at least having had some exposure at test level.
The second perspective concerns the long list of injured and recently recovered players. A number of key players, including Pat Lambie, Jean de Villiers, Cobus Reinach and Schalk Burger need time on the pitch to get match fit after injury lay-offs.
There is also the issue of re-integrating overseas players like Francois Louw, Ruan Pienaar and Bryan Habana in the squad.
The establishment of combinations is really challenging in view of the long injury list. The centre pairing and the loose forwards, in particular, are crucial areas where the players need to know instinctively what to expect from each other, given the high intensity at which rugby is played at test level.
Finally, players like JP Pietersen and the full Sharks front row will have to prove that donning the Bok jersey is still an honour by playing much better rugby than they did in the Super Rugby competition. The good news is that they are no longer irreplaceable, and they hopefully realise this.
Expect a poor first half – On Wednesday, the All Blacks really battled against an inspired Samoa team, mainly as a result of rusty combinations, despite the individual brilliance of most players. As always, they pulled it off, and an inspired Dan Carter, whom many commentators have written off, once again proved the value of experience (and talent).
The Moonstone Dream Team
We did not have the same restraints as Heyneke when we picked our side, so it will obviously differ from the squad appearing above.
Fullback: Willie le Roux
Left wing: Cornal Hendricks (Bryan Habana was also the top choice here, but we thought it would be unfair to expect to cover both wings, despite his high work rate)
Right wing: Bryan Habana
Outside Centre: Francois Steyn/Jean de Villiers (dead tie)
Inside Centre: Damian de Allende
Flyhalf: Handré Pollard
Scrumhalf: Fourie du Preez
Eightman: Duanne Vermeulen
Number 7 flank: Schalk Burger
Number 6 Flank: Francois Louw
Number 5 lock: Victor Matfield
Number 4 lock: Eben Etzebeth
Loosehead: Stephen Kitshoff
Tighthead: Vincent Koch
Hooker: Bismarck du Plessis