Pat Lambie has returned to rugby just when Elton Jantjies appears to have badly injured his knee, young Garth April has emerged as a match-winner, and abroad, South African rugby is being viewed as being in the doldrums.
On top of all this, new Springbok coach Allister Coetzee is busy planning for his first assignment - the June Test series against Ireland. It’s now just weeks away and there will be the inevitable squad prediction stories and you can be sure there will be plenty of surprises in those ‘probable squads’.
All that matters though will be the men Coetzee puts his trust in to represent the Boks next month. Fans will love some selections and frown on others. Coetzee will be criticised no matter who he picks because that’s the nature of the beast when a team is selected ... some will argue he hasn’t invested enough in the youth, others will say his core isn’t experienced enough.
Let’s be honest, it’s a job where you’re hardly going to get a pat on the back for a job well-done. Who’d want to be Coetzee right now?
The new Bok boss has plenty to consider before he names his 30-man squad at the end of this month. There are a number of very promising young players performing well in Super Rugby who many will say deserve a chance, but one can’t simply toss away the men who’ve done the business before.
Let’s consider the likes of Adriaan Strauss, Jan Serfontein, JP Pietersen and Schalk Burger, to name just a few - all men who’ve performed well in Test rugby, but haven’t set the Super Rugby competition alight. A few weeks ago none of these men would have got into a Super Rugby form team, but right now they’ve rediscovered their mojo and are playing their best rugby of the year. Surely, Coetzee can’t ignore their experience - and form - when he picks his Bok squad?
And, what about the overseas players? Yes, there are some who say, ‘forget them, only go local’, but that would be short-sighted. Bryan Habana must still have something to add to the Bok set-up, Bismarck du Plessis, Duane Vermeulen and Francois Louw, too.
The problem is these players, and all those who now ply their trade overseas, are ‘forgotten’ when they head abroad; their form, skills and ability, pushed aside, leaving one to only think about, and consider, the players one sees week-in and week-out in Super Rugby.
It’s normal because ‘out of sight, out of mind’, but Coetzee can’t and won’t ignore these men.
Excitement is growing for the Boks’ first outing of the year, let alone the announcement of Coetzee’s first squad, but spare a thought for the Bok boss. It’s no easy job picking a Bok team. - The Star
Original source: Bok coach between a rock and a hard place