It was a squad of 31, but they are not all Boks. The biggest surprise was the selection of uncapped Rudy Paige, who was brought in as the third scrumhalf at the expense of Cobus Reinach.
Reinach was not the only loser on the night – Marcell Coetzee can feel hard done by after he was left out despite his heroic performances for coach Heyneke Meyer, both this year and previously.
Siya Kolisi was selected as the additional openside flank cover, ahead of both Coetzee and Heinrich Brüssow.
It is confusing to understand why players like Coetzee and Reinach were omitted – after playing such big parts in 2015 – for two players who have featured for less than 40 minutes between them.
Meyer explained their omissions based on recent injuries. Reinach suffered a fractured hand in Super Rugby, while Coetzee picked up a knee injury in the Rugby Championship.
“Marcell is a guy I have always rated highly, unfortunately at this stage he is still injured,” Meyer said.
“Cobus Reinach has certainly played well. Unfortunately, the same as Pat (Lambie), he was injured for most of the year. I tried to give him time off the bench, but all those games were must-win and there was a lot of pressure in the end, so he didn’t get enough game time.”
Meyer went on to describe why he was still happy with his selection of Paige as the third scrumhalf, regardless of him never having been tested at international level.
“Rudy Paige has played really well in Super Rugby and was ahead of a guy like Francois Hougaard, who I rate really highly as well,” the Bok coach said.
“Since we came to the camp, I told him there were certain things he needs to work on, and he has done that. He has really good service and plays more or less the same as Fourie (du Preez).
“It was a tough decision that could have gone both ways.”
The reasons Meyer gives for the omissions of Coetzee and Reinach seem flawed from the start; even his explanations are off.
The overarching issue is injury and lack of game time for the two Sharks men. However, there are other players in the squad who are in similar circumstances that are on their way to England.
Meyer spoke firstly of Reinach being injured for most of the year as an aggravating factor against his selection, but in the same breath mentions Lambie as someone who suffered a similar fate in the year.
He then goes on to say that Reinach was unable to get much game time due to the pressured situations of some of the tight matches played through 2015; Paige, however, didn’t even make it onto the field in a Bok jersey, never mind sitting on the bench.
These excuses seem weak and far from convincing. His issue with Coetzee being injured is also problematic.
The player is injured, that is a fact, and if the Boks were to play next week he would not be fit. However, this is also true of seven other players who were selected. Captain Jean de Villiers (fractured jaw), Duane Vermeulen (neck) Jannie du Plessis, Fourie du Preez (both knee) Willie le Roux (ankle), Francois Louw (shoulder) and Coenie Oosthuizen (neck) are were all named with injuries.
It may be that Coetzee would not recover in time to play a part in the opening stages of the World Cup, but with it being known that several of the mentioned seven won’t be ready for the Boks’ opening pool game against Japan, it needs to be asked if there are not other reasons for this omission.
Many will look towards these omissions as selections in favour of quotas, but with nothing official coming out of the Bok camp, it is hard to say.
Meyer is taking eight non-white players to the World Cup – almost 30 percent – which could be concluded as acceptable. However, without Paige and Kolisi, seven players equates closer to 20 percent, which is far less palatable. - Weekend Argus
Original source: Heyneke’s Chosen Ones