De Villiers is a must for Boks

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These are some of the questions rugby fans will get answered when Heyneke Meyer names his 31-man World Cup squad on Friday.

There will be the customary shocks - of players left out and others included - but they will be Meyer’s men and he will be judged by what they do on the fields of England in September and October. Not everyone will agree with his choices but when they go into battle for the William Webb Ellis Trophy South Africa will be behind them. Of that there is no doubt.

One player who is a must is Jean de Villiers. The regular skipper has been discussed more than any other player in contention in the last year following the horrific knee injury he suffered in November last year. He fought hard to be fit for the showpiece event but then broke his jaw in his first start back for the Boks. His readiness has become a hot topic of discussion again.

Yes, De Villiers is unlikely to play the first two pool games next month; yes, he’s not likely to be match-fit, and yes, he may not even be the best man for his position. It’s then an easy choice, isn’t it? Meyer must leave De Villiers at home and make space for someone else. Many will feel this way, but it’s not so simple. Besides De Villiers being the best captain we have, it’s in the actual playing department where he will be very much needed.

If, as expected, Meyer goes with Damian de Allende and Jesse Kriel as two of his centres, he surely needs some experience among the midfielders. Neither De Allende or Kriel have played 10 Tests and while they might have been in hot form in southern hemisphere conditions this season, neither has been tested in the north. De Villiers knows the conditions in England and he’s the most experienced campaigner among the centres - and having years and years of Test rugby behind one is an invaluable commodity at the World Cup.

Sure, Frans Steyn would be an option because he covers more than one position, but he’s struggled with injuries this year and hasn’t featured for the Boks since September 2012, while Serfontein - such a star last season - hasn’t had much of a look-in this year either and may be one of the unlucky ones to miss out.

De Villiers is a must. It would just be a silly decision to go to the World Cup without that experience, hunger and determination. His whole career has been about fighting back and the Boks might need every bit of that fight over the next two months if they’re to triumph.

The Star

Original source: De Villiers is a must for Boks

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