There are several reasons why I can’t find much fault with the 31 players the new Springbok coach has put his faith in to face up to Ireland next month.
The first is the matter of overseas-based players being picked for the Boks. It’s something I’ve thought about for years now. It’s encouraging to see only three ‘foreigners’ in the side - loose-forwards Duane Vermeulen and Francois Louw; I suspect to add some experience to what is a fairly inexperienced back-row selection, and loosehead prop Steven Kitshoff, a powerhouse youngster who Coetzee obviously believes can be a Bok No 1 for many, years to come.
Also, I feel the ‘shock’ selections of Garth April and Nic Groom are spot on because surely it encourages other youngsters that if they display the talent they’ll get a look-in ahead of someone who’s earning millions overseas. Coetzee should be applauded for backing two youngsters ahead of the likes of Johan Goosen, Morne Steyn and Ruan Pienaar, the latter excluding himself from the June series.
It is a squad with a core of experienced campaigners, but not lacking in exciting young talent. I suppose the only area of concern is scrumhalf where Groom, Faf de Klerk and Rudy Paige are hardly seasoned operators, but they are the best Coetzee could have picked. It is the one position in South Africa that is not richly blessed with talent but, who knows, in a year’s time these men might be on another plain.
Coetzee has rewarded form, especially those Lions players who for some years now have been knocking on the door. They are all fully deserving of being picked ... and who would have thought that to be the case three years ago?
Sure, Malcolm Marx might feel aggrieved at missing out, but then so, too, can Sergeal Petersen. They, along with their SA ‘A’ teammates, can however stake a claim for higher honours with good performances against England’s Saxons - a side that may well be stronger than the Ireland team visiting these shores in the coming weeks.
I have found some of the criticism levelled at Coetzee’s selections rather disappointing because, if we’re all honest with ourselves, his squad is not far off what most believe is the strongest and best 31. No two people will see a selection in the same way because we all have our favourites and somehow prefer players in the teams we support, but that doesn’t mean the selections of the national coach shouldn’t be respected.
The last four years, under the previous coach, were largely disappointing, with few highlights. The Springboks need to make the highlights reel again and from what I’ve heard from Coetzee and what I see in his selections I’m more optimistic about the Boks than I was a year ago.
Now to find the best 15 and the eight bench-sitters who can make the most impact ... and play a brand of rugby that will not only be exciting, but victorious, too. - The Star
Original source: 31 reasons for Bok fans to be excited