Bok backs to face England

Having lined up their preferred Springbok heavies for the series against England, the AOR team gets down to naming the backs.

Tank Lanning:
 Faf de Klerk, Handre Pollard
I am not entirely sure what De Klerk did so wrong to warrant his sudden banishing from the Bok side, but in his first stint with Sale, he was nominated for the Premiership player of the season. A perfect partner to the obvious choice at flyhalf, Pollard, whose physical presence and ability to manage a game have been key to the Bulls this year.

Zelím Nel: Ruan Pienaar, Handre Pollard
Show me an experienced SA scrumhalf that can kick, tackle, pass and run and I’ll show you a gorgeous Australian.
Pienaar’s recall for an 89th Test is as much about winning in June as it is about mentoring Cameron Wright.

Elton Jantjies patently does not enjoy the physical side of rugby. Pollard arguably enjoys it too much. The point is that everyone is going to have to roll up their sleeves this year and Pollard is far more adept at doing that.

Tank: Damian de Allende, Jesse Kriel
Kriel is the no-brainer at 13 given his explosiveness, pace, step and running lines. The De Allende selection will no doubt raise a few eyebrows, but for a player to recover from a dip in form like he has, shows the kind of character needed at national level. His 17 tackle breaks is 5th best in Super Rugby, while his 140 carries is second best. A centre pairing that can break defences!

Zels: Damian de Allende, Lukhanyo Am
Though there’s room for improvement on defence, De Allende is a clear front-runner for the No 12 jersey. Hopefully the Boks make use of his impressive distribution and kicking ability.

Lukhanyo Am offers all the upside of genuine X-factor without any of the associated risks. An excellent decision-maker, Am has a knack for popping up in the right place at the right time, and poses a real threat over the ball.

Back Three
Tank: Sbu Nkosi, Aphiwe Dyanti, Warrick Gelant
An incredibly exciting trio! All three have lit up Super Rugby this year through their pace, guile and skill. Real finishers with an eye for the tryline.

Zels: Sbu Nkosi, Jesse Kriel, Curwin Bosch
Kriel and Nkosi offer the backline two physically imposing bookends who don’t need a babysitter when the ball goes wide. SA’s most physically fearsome winger, Nkosi balances grit with burst and agility. Kriel, in the best form of his career, has done time at fullback and adds tactical value.

There are valid concerns about Bosch’s courage in contact, but there’s no doubt he is SA’s most talented kicksmith since Percy Montgomery.

Tank: Cameron Wright, Curwin Bosch, Lukhanyo Am
Wright is perhaps the bolter, but he has really caught the eye for the Sharks, and like his fellow bench warmers, has the ability to make an impact from the bench, rather than just take up space. Bosch edges Jantjies given his ability to cover both flyhalf and fullback, thus creating space for a true gem of a centre, Am.

Zels: Cameron Wright, Rob du Preez, Warrick Gelant
Wright is a bright prospect who has skills (crucial to winning Tests) that don’t make the highlight reels. With Damian Willemse on Junior Boks duty, Du Preez is a backup 10 with traits similar to Pollard.

Gelant is a prodigious talent who will push Bosch by doing real damage off the bench.

Close but no cigar
Tank: Louis Schreuder, Nic Groom, Elton Jantjies, Rob Du Preez, Andre Esterhuizen, Francois Venter, Madosh Tambwe, Ruan Combrinck, Seabelo Senatla, Andries Coetzee

Have the guys nailed it, or do you want to take a hammer to their lineups?

- Big Debate

Let's chat

  • Johan

    It is telling, isn’t it, that neither of you chose a single Lion player in either front or back.

    While the Lions are 7 points clear of the Jaguares in the points table and they haven’t lost against a SA team in 20 Super rugby games.

    And stats show that players, like Mostert, is clearly above the rest…

    • Sean

      These two reporters have always been anti Lions for a long time . For one to suggest that Ruaan Pienaar should comeback is the biggest joke in the world. Elton with a good coach like Ackerman can do wonders as we know. His kicking percentage at posts this season is great and has more line breaks than any other palyer in superugby since 2016… He is a form player and needs confidence which Rassie will give him. Put Pollard next to him at centre…. More Lions needed. I think it is 23 local derbies we have won on the trot against local team and they hardly choose any… Do me a favour seriously. Damien Da Allende…. hahahah

    • Tank Lanning Tank Lanning

      Last time I checked, Dyanti was a Lion, Johan. Apart from Mostert (who I agree, would not let the Boks down), who would you have?

      • Johan

        I can admit when I’m wrong, I missed the one Lion in the 30 players (yes, I counted this time) in the starting teams and benches. I’m sorry.

        I still think my point stands, more Montpellier players (3), than number 1 team in SA players were chosen…
        There are 5 Stormers, 10 Sharks, 8 Bulls and 1 Lion.

        I still think my point stands…

        Who would I chose?
        – Most opp line outs wins, more meters made per carry, more tackles made, better tackling rate and more tackle busts than Snyman and Botha combined.
        (He and Du Toit together would be awesome)

        – Most turnover won, in tackle, combined 3rd in turn overs won, not in tackle.
        – 23rd in Meters made, most by ANY forward
        – Same amount of tackle breaks as (the “bigger”) Jean-luc, they are tied 3rd for any SA player and 1st for SA forward
        – Most line breaks by SA forward
        – Tackling at 84% (same number of dominant tackles as Jean-luc)
        – 3rd most tackles made (Nr 1 in SA)
        (Would love to see him, Jean-luc and Vermeulen together)

        – Brilliant attacking player
        – – 1st in competition in Line Break assists (Putting people into space)
        – He showed his attacking kicking ability just in the last match
        – Finally, I don’t think he was allowed to show his abilities under Coetzee, he also lacked BMT when playing for the Stormers under him…

        Ok… I have to do some real work now, but also consider:
        Dreyer (quick checked showed he conceded only one more penalty than Wilco this year, even with his reputation, also tackling at 97%, Wilco is at 92% and won more turnovers, passes etc. )
        Coetzee (he has 59 passes and 13 offloads, so far, for people saying he can’t pass. That was clearly a Toetie “gameplan” last year) (He is also 2nd in SA for tackle breaks)

        Finally there are only three teams with 100% scrum win rate, Crusaders, Hurricanes and the Lions.
        The Lions have also been awarded the most penalties.

        Why is their pack ignored like this?

      • Magnus

        Herald Vorster at 12….. perfect link…

        • Tank Lanning Tank Lanning

          I am a fan, I must say. Classy player. Whole backline cannot be newbies though

          • Frankie Knuckles

            Which is why Willie needs to be at the back, and Frans Steyn at 12.
            De Allende only looks like he’s having a good season…compared to the last two abysmal ones.
            But he HAS to be there, doesn’t he.
            Many better 12’s than Damian. And Frans can kick. And not go to ground with the ball every time his confidence is rattled.
            De Allende is sorely lacking in BMT.

  • Justin

    Damien De Allende hahaha! Good luck with that choice, you guys clearly have not watched many Stormers games this season. Take a look at the other top flight centres this season and watch how they run lines, link up and create space then re-think your choice. Being big is not enough at international level. Faf is an easy first choice and Kriel is coming on very nicely. Willie le Roux is the best no.15 SA has. Very underrated in SA but loved by Wasps management and fans alike, for good reason. Besides Faf, Kriel & le Roux SA teams lack depth and quality in the backs. We are especially lacking in quality wings who can attack with pace and power, are good under the high ball/ behind loose ball, can kick under pressure and can tackle!

    • Tank Lanning Tank Lanning

      So who is your 12, Justin?

      • Dalone

        De Allende at 12 for sure. I would play steyn at 13 seeing that we need a little more grunt on defense. Pollard and De Allende next each other are going to be solid but kriel is not a great defender nor is he good at controlling the defensive line so i would have him on the bench . People laughing at De Allende selection is quite bizarre – stats and form counts last time i checked.

      • Sharky

        I agree with Justin – Willie le Roux should also be in the mix. My 12 would probably be Frans Steyn with Lukhanyo Am on his outside. Steyn would bring come calm and experience to what is a pretty green (pun not intended) backline.

        • Dean

          Couldn’t agree more. The backline should be balanced with attack and defense. De Allende, Kriel and Bosch are all suspect on defense. I can see Frans marshalling the defense much like Jean de Villiers did in the past. Willie is also a good communicator, something that was sorely lacking last year. Super Rugby form doesn’t necessarily translate to international level, as we saw from a number of players last year especially the back 3, flyhalf and scrumhalf.

          • Arche

            Gelant much better at 15 than Bosch.. You can not play with a fullback at international stage that can not tackle..simple as that.. Esterhuizen better than De Allende at 12.. they are similar in frame and power but Esterhuizen edges it due to better tackling.. better bowl control and offloads.. Pollard much better than Jantjies.. to many reasons to name but most important is Pollard has much bigger BMT.. Between Kriel and Am it is a toss up for 13.. F. steyn can be on the bench as he can cover most backline spots..I will actually play Combrinck at 14 with Nkosi/Dyantyi at 11..

            15 Gelant
            14 Combrinck
            13 Kriel/Am
            12 Esterhuizen
            11 Nkosi/Dyantyi
            10 Pollard
            9 Wright/Reinach

          • Tank Lanning Tank Lanning

            Steyn comes with his own baggage, though. Turned the Boks down because of money at one stage … But yes, DdA defence is suspect. To me, it looks like a structural thing between him and EW Viljoen though. Hoping Neinaber could sort that out …

  • Jan L

    Hi Fellows, there seems to be some talent out there. I agree with Pollard, look like he have the mental and physical make-up of an international player. My choice at number 9 on this stage will be De Klerk. I thought he had a very good outing against the French in his first couple of tests and then fading like the rest of the team thereafter. Wright is my choice as back-up from the bench. Centers, oh boy, well either the old firm of De Allende and Kriel or the partnership of Esterhuizen and Am, experience should count in the favour of the former. Nkosi on the one wing, the other I am still scratching my head about (Leyds, Mpimpi, Dyantyi, Ismail – I am sure I spelled most of these wrong). Would have liked to have seen more of Werner Kok in the 15-man code this year. I think Gallant is more deserving of the last bastion position. Bosch will be a useful bench sitter and so would Rob du Preez as Pollard can always switch to 12 in case of an injury among the centers.

    • Tank Lanning Tank Lanning

      Some tremendously exciting talent out there Jan. Also like the look of Kok in the 15’s game. As do I like Ruhan Nel and Senatla …

  • Dominic C

    I think its short sighted to banish Ruan Combrink for Dyanti. Combrinck has done everything for the lions that dyanti has and more, though it appears peole have short memories. He has also excelled on the international stage when given the chance. He also covers wing and can place kick with both feet from 50 meters. Surely an asset. Maybe mention Dyanti when you can count his super rugby try tally on more than one hand.

    My choice would be 9 FDK, 10 Pollard, 11 Combrink, 12 Frans Steyn, 13 Jesse Kriel, 14 Nkosi, 15 Gelant. Bench: Cronje, Rohan JvR, Willie Le Roux.

    Kriel and De Allende both want to run sideways whenever they get the ball. You can’t have them playing together unless you want your wing to be waiting for the ball in the 10th row of the stadium. De Allende is clueless about running lines and putting people into space. Can we bury the experiment of putting him on the international stage, please. His high number of carries would be a hindrance on the international stage. You don’t have as much space or time. You can’t play a game like that. His form is so inconsistant why bother investing in him when there is good chance there is a slump lying around the next corner. Invest in players with robust and consistant all round skills. Even Kriel for me would be on thin ice ahead of Am. Kriel often is guilty of trying to do too much. Though this season he has made a marked improvement in distributing before contact. Am has proven for two seasons he knows what to do at outside centre. The combination of Am and Nkosi would be interesting to see develop.

  • Blou Bul

    Excellent choice Tank, I agree with all, but maybe consider Esterhuizen in place of De Allende, just in case he has a brain fart in the green and gold. I must say he DD impressed me a lot this year. I am also concerned about the wings specifically under the high balls, Ismael might be a better choice in place of Nkosi.
    And just so by the way – Pollard for PRESIDENT!!

  • Mathew

    15 gelant
    14 combrink
    13 kriel
    12 esterhuizen
    11 willie
    10 pollard
    9 faf

  • Mathew

    8 vermeulen
    7 Du Preez
    6 kolisi
    5 pdst
    4 ruan Botha
    3 wilco
    2 Strauss
    1 beast

  • Mathew

    Roelof smit
    Cameron wright
    Rob Du Preez
    Damian de Allende

  • Juan

    Bosch in the team to miss tackles? ?

    • Barry Smith

      Andries Coetzee, Springbok incumbent has missed 14 tackles in SR this year Bosch 9. Really silly comment!

      • Herman Schroder

        Yes because Bosch bales out on any tackle that’s remotely difficult. He doesn’t tackle anyway he does a cheap imitation of ‘Waltzing Matilda’ when he waltzes around opponents tugging at jerseys.
        He also uses his speed to break but then is clueless what to do with the ball. Imagine if you play D’Allendig at centre and Bosch at the back you will have a channel for all and sundry to pour through. By the way stats are far too subjective to be taken seriously. Cheers.

  • Sharky

    Interesting picks. And I like how the backline is taking on a darker hue ostensibly on merit. My backline would be a bit lighter though:

    9 Faf de Klerk
    10 Handre Pollard (cos Lambie is injured, right?)
    11 Aphiwe Dyanti
    12 Frans Steyn (can shift to FH if needed)
    13 Lukhanyo Am
    14 Ruan Combrinck
    15 Willie le Roux

    Reserves: Curwin Bosch, Andre Esterhuizen/Damian de Allende, Ruan Pienaar (also to help groom Cameron Wright).

    • Rant

      I was about to write my list when I noticed yours, and it is exactly the same! Must be a Londoner thing ;)

      • Johan

        Looks good, except that I’d play Jantjies.

        Would LOVE to see him play under a good coach that understands attacking and space

  • Pierre

    Good teams!

    How about this:

    9. Reinach/Faf
    10. Pollard
    11. Dyanti
    12. Steyn
    13. De Allende
    14. Ismael
    15. Gellant/Willie

    • Arche

      You want to take Springbok rugby back to stone age? Cannot have 2 bashers at centre.. Either Steyn.. De Allende.. Esterhuysen at 12… Am.. Kriel at 13 who can exploit the space.. run off lines etc.. One center needs to run hard and be bullish with offloads where can to create space for clever and fast running outside centre to break the lines..

  • Ferds

    I feel that the backline you selected is not creative enough. We’ve been in all sorts since the likes of Jean de Villiers and Jacques Fourie retired from rugby. Jesse has hit hot and cold, Damien de Allende has not been great for the green and gold at all, and L. Am is still untested. Guys like Herold Voster, Andre Esterhuizen, van Rensburg would do the jersey proud! Strong and direct runners capable of taking that gap. I would stick Gelant on the wing, with Combrink on the other, and add Willie at fullback. Pollard at 10 with Faf inside hime.

  • Dean

    A lack of experience and calm heads was a big issue for the Boks last year. Both teams selected here are way too inexperienced and imbalanced in that regard.

    15 Willie 14 Nkosi 13 Am 12 Steyn 11 Dyantyi 10 Pollard 9 de Klerk
    21 Wright 22 Jantjies 23 Kriel

    De Allende brings ONLY the physical game, nothing else. If that fails he’s lost at sea. Am has all the skills and with Frans inside of him, you have two players who can kick, pass, tackle and compete at the breakdown. I include Willie ahead of Gelant, because a back 3 of all debutants is very risky.

  • Riaan13

    Why is no one mentioning Jan Serfontein. He was and still is our inform inside centre. Jesse will perform better with Jan at 12. Combrink got injured and was never considered after returning,yet he was our inform wing. Gelant,willie and frans steyn will all perform well at 15 for us. We are blessed with alot of raw talent. Just find the right combinations

  • Peet

    I agree, Pollard as general , with 4 lieutenants , 2 forwards and 2 backs . Kolisi & Strauss and de Klerk and (Steyn) or de Allende. The skills are there , it’s leadership quality that is a bit on the thin side.

  • Peet

    Highly developed skill sets has become a normal standard, real leadership , balanced mindsets in the trenches behind you are behind on the scoreboard is what pulls teams though. It’s of no use we have 40 Super stars but not one player can think or make a decision under that kind of pressure. We should look at players that performed outside the comfort of local fields , because we can’t tour a Bok team filled with players like we saw recently with Stormers or recent Bulls. Experience under pressure , is the golden key.

  • Barry Smith

    Damian is a great talent, but with respects his performance this year relates to the amount he has improved from last year, rather than his knocking the door down as a prime suspect for SB selection. Andre Esterhuizen has been the best 12 this year by a long shot. I hope this is recognised and rewarded. We do not want to lose more talent to European clubs

  • zebo

    15 gelant
    14 nkosi
    13 kriel
    12 am
    11 dyanti
    10 pollard
    09 Wright
    08 van staden
    07 du preez
    06 kolisi
    05 p du toit
    04 snyman
    03 nyakane
    02 strauss
    01 kitshoff

    16 mbonambi
    17 mtawarira
    18 louw
    19 mostert
    20 du preez
    21 papier
    22 bosch
    23 combrink

    55/45 for wales test

    • Herman Schroder

      Zebo, Those ten players from the Bulls you included are they the same players that crumbled and were embarrassed by the Jaguares last week ?? They come up against basically an Argentinian side and failed miserably so imagine how they will be against England and the AB’s ?. You are reading far too much into the odd good game in SR. I would still pick the majority of the Lions players, they have at least been to two SR finals in the past two years. The rest of our teams barely qualified for the playoffs. Cheers.

  • Morne

    Galant 15 , Dyanti , Leyds , Damian , Am , Jantjies , Shreuder

  • Waheeb

    Hi. Again picking too much players with kicking ability.
    Dyanti Warrick Nkosi (new , but give it to them)
    Allende , kriel (both on a slight upward)
    Cameron Pillars
    Bench . Lleyds Am RuanP

  • Jannes

    Hi guys, how about the following
    9. Faf
    10. Pollard
    11. Dyanti
    12. Frans Steyn
    13. Kriel
    14. Galant
    15. Willie le Roux
    Good combination of experience and x-factor.

  • Ivan

    9. Faf
    10. Du Preez
    11. Dyantyi (x factor)
    12. Pillars
    13. Am
    14. Blood
    15. Gelant

    If du preez struggles pollard moves to 10
    And De allende comes off the bench to 12.

    De allende

    • Ivan

      12. Pollard not pillars (autocorrect)

      • Ivan

        14. Nkosi not blood ….

  • Ivan

    9. Faf
    10. Du Preez
    11. Dyantyi (x factor)
    12. Pillars
    13. Am
    14. Nkosi
    15. Gelant

    If du preez struggles pollard moves to 10
    And De allende comes off the bench to 12.

    De allende

  • Wesley

    Hahahaha DDA. No Esterhuizen? What is going on in the Cape, too many low-flow showers in the morning getting to you guys brains? My gosh…

    15 – Gelant
    14 – Nkosi / Combrink (Commies still on comeback, looked better this past week, bench then)
    13 – Esterhuizen
    12 – Pollard (i still feel this could work well)
    11 – Dyantyi
    10 – Jantjies
    9 – Faf

    Bench can be any of these i wouldn’t mind – Nkosi / Commies, RJVR, Wright, Rob dP, Bosch, Am, Kriel. If this mix of 15 out the 30 against England consists with these players, we can do well. But please no DDA.

  • Andrew

    I cant understand the obsession with De Allende, he is not the answer.

    My starting backline

    Half backs
    Faf de Klerk and Pollard

    Frans Steyn (still think he is best at 12)
    Jan Serfontein (as far as i know he is fit)

    Aphiwe Dyanti
    Sbu Nkosi
    Warrick Galant

    An inexperienced back three is the achilles heal of this backline but what a strike force.

    Ross Cronje (in his 1st 20 min back the other day he was 10 times better than Groom)
    Elton Jantjies
    Lukhanyo Am (still raw and developing but i believe Am could be better than Jacques Fourie)

    • Andrew

      Forgot to add, the way teams line up now days with forwards designated to various areas of the field and with the absence of Marx we need a midfield capable of making a few turn overs (aka Crotty). Serfontein is great at that.

  • Adam

    In my opinion we need more experience.

    15. Gelant (Brilliant all-round game. X-factor aplenty. Bosch’s defence is too suspect and Le Roux is too inconsistent when playing for the boks)
    14. Pietersen (We need experience and physicality in our back 3 – he provides both. Nkosi can be groomed to take over. Not a good idea to play players out of position, e.g. Le Roux or Kriel)
    13. Kriel or Am (Both in excellent form – a coin toss?)
    12. Steyn (Provided he’s motivated and 100% onboard. We need his experience and boot. De Allenda is playing good rugby again, but he isn’t at the same level as Steyn)
    11. Mapimpi (This guy is explosive, physical and knows how to score tries)
    10. Pollard (Best all-round flyhalf in the country at the moment)
    9. De Klerk (Worried about his kicking game, but evidently it has developed nicely over the past year in Europe. No other local scrumhalves have done enough to warrant a starting Bok position and Pienaar is simply too slow)

    • Barry Smith

      Bosch has missed 4 more tackles than Gelant after 13 games of SR. Some idiot once wrote that because he’s a smaller guy he can’t tackle and a number seem to have bought in with out considering the stats!

  • Herman Schroder

    No one has mentioned or speculated on Rassie’s game plan for the tests. Is it domkrag 101 or a hybrid of domkrag and expansive or is it an out and out expansive game with due respect for the basics of the game ?? My gut feel he will play domkrag 101. You know the type of rugby that brought Bok rugby to it’s knees these past four years.

    If you want to play Domkrag 101, then include the likes of Pollard, D’Allende, Bosch and Steyn among the backs. This will mean we’ve learn’t nothing from the last four years.

    Then if you play the expansive game with due respect to the basics of the game ( for those who think I’m encouraging throwing the ball around willy nilly ) then you should go with those with the right temperament and skill levels who have done so on a regular basis and have achieved some success with it.

    Faf de Klerk an absolute must with Ross Cronje as back up. Elton Jantjies with Pollard as back up. Kriel and Am at centre with RJvRensburgh and Esterhuizen as back up, Combrink and Djantji on the wings with Mapimpi and Gelant as back ups. Coetzee at fullback or Combrink. Faf the only ‘export’ allowed as the failed golden oldies of yesteryear should have no place in Rassie’s preparations for the WC next year.

    Due to the absence of Whiteley, Jaco Kriel and Marx the forwards become a bit of a lottery due to most of the forward contenders being fairly average to good workhorses with occasional flashes of brilliance but not consistent enough Good luck to Rassie. Must play in the expansive rugby game plan is Mostert with Kwagga at least on the bench.

    Finally not many of the contenders have experienced real success in SR not to mention test matches. At least the Lions players have been there, done that but more importantly have played the expansive game successfully as a unit. Rassie must do what Alistair failed to do and that is build the test team around them with the correct game plan, especially in view of the limited amount of prep time. Otherwise we are simply repeating the failed history of the past four years.

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