If you could call-up one player from the SA A squad, who would it be, and who would they replace? Tank Lanning and Zelím Nel mull it over.
Tank: Wilco Louw, Chris Cloete, Thomas du Toit and Ruan Combrinck – in that order – are to my mind the guys most unlucky not to make the latest Bok squad.
Especially given that Coenie Oosthuzen is in the squad as the third tighthead prop, this while Ruan Dreyer remains untested at this level and Frans Malherbe struggles for form. It’s a ridiculous call.
The other three, quite clearly the stand out players in their positions during Super Rugby, probably miss out due to transformation requirements.
With Warren Whiteley named as skipper (which I like a lot), the back-in-favour, and hopefully fully-fit, Duane Vermeulen will no doubt play 7, something else I like. But what a pity to see this trio not balanced perfectly with Cloete as the out-and-out fetcher.
But none would be my choice of upgrade …
It’s not the worst Bok squad ever assembled, and I think the XV selected will be OK. Especially up front. But it’s seriously green out back, and I worry about the bench.
I worry most about Elton Jantjies’ ability at the highest level. Yes he has again been good at Super Rugby level, but wasn’t that the case last year? I just do not think he can cut the mustard in the space-curtailed Test environment, especially under Allister Coetzee.
One presumes that Francois Steyn is in as flyhalf cover, but I would have that rocket launcher of a boot at the back, instead giving Kings pivot Lionel Cronje a shot at green. Relaxed, confident, and experienced, he is playing the kind of game that will take the pressure off a young backline.
Zelím: I’d pick Andisa Ntsila ahead of Oupa Mohoje.
For my money, Mohoje, like Warren Whiteley, is a player who would have far more credibility had he originally been designated as a big back rather than an athletic forward. Mohoje has the chassis and the speed to be a powerful finisher; he’s not in his element when the game gets narrow or slow.
Ntsila also enjoys linking up with the backs, but when the situation requires it, he looks comfortable and controlled in coping with the rough stuff.
The Kings loose forward is Super Rugby’s most prolific tackler (134 tackles) at a 94% completion rate compared to Mohoje’s 86%.
While that will have something to do with the Cheetahs’ scattershot attack, Ntsila, who plays for a team that has made the fewest carries this season, averages more metres-per-run (7.6m versus Mohoje’s 6.1m) and has broken the line 8 times on 80 carries (Mohoje has 2 linebreaks from 69 carries).
Mohoje is 12cm taller than Ntsila, but if Allister Coetzee was angling for lineout options, all of Jannes Kirsten, Ruan Ackermann, Philip van der Walt and Jean-Luc du Preez offer more value in general play.