Final shot at Bok tour

Dawie Boonzaaier

Rassie Erasmus hasn’t been scared to experiment with combinations in his first year in charge of the Boks. It’s his way of creating depth for next year’s Rugby World Cup by testing options at the highest level. Whether it’s worked, we will only know come rugby’s showpiece event.

The knockout rounds of the Currie Cup have finally produced some decent rugby and, with Rassie open to rewarding domestic form (see Ruhan Nel’s call-up during the Rugby Championship), the Newlands final is perhaps a last chance for some players to stick their hand up for a seat on the plane to Europe next month, especially since one of the tour matches falls outside World Rugby’s international window.

Here are four players that will be itching to make a late run at the Bok squad:

Akker van der Merwe
Rassie’s first-choice hooker is Malcolm Marx, and Bongi Mbonambi is number two. Judging by exhaustive efforts to get the retired Schalk Brits a last sojourn at the Stormers, you’ve got to think he’s in third place.

But until we’ve seen Brits play rugby again, I can’t see why he should go on a Bok tour ahead of Van der Merwe.

The Sharks hooker is a much more steady lineout exponent than both of the incumbents and while he hasn’t been completely out of Rassie’s thinking (making his Test debut earlier this year) Saturday’s final, playing against Mbonambi, is an ideal opportunity to remind the Bok coach why he’s got more to offer than the veteran, Brits.

JD Schickerling
When your third-choice lock is already in the starting line-up as your first-choice blindside flank, then you know you’ve got depth. But maybe Pieter-Steph du Toit’s form at blindside flank will result in him being seen as a specialist in that position, which would open up another position among the second-row reserves.

Under Rassie the roles of our locks haven’t been the classic Victor and Bakkies role of lineout specialist and enforcer, and that’s why JD Schickerling is knocking very hard on that Springbok door.

Almost 30 percent of his tackles have been dominant, he’s barely lost a lineout, and he averages more than five metres per carry. Schickerling fits in perfectly into the hybrid-lock role that Rassie likes. With Lood de Jager not having played rugby for some time, a dominant performance from Schickerling could well see him jump into Bok contention.

In 2013, Du Toit earned a Bok call-up after bossing some much more experienced men in a Newlands Currie Cup final, albeit for the Sharks. Maybe Schickerling can emulate him?

Dillyn Leyds
For some or other reason, Rassie doesn’t seem to like Dillyn Leyds, and it’s hard to understand why. Need a second-playmaker in the mould of Wille le Roux at fullback? Leyds has got one of the best passes in the country. Need another hot-stepper like Cheslin Kolbe, Leyds is your man.

Even though he only averages a kick every 29 minutes in this year’s Currie Cup (Le Roux averaged one every 22 minutes during the Rugby Champs), Leyds’ average gain of 45 metres per kick compares very favourably to Le Roux’s 24m.

Good under the high-ball as well, Leyds will make Rassie take note if he wins a shootout against Curwin Bosch.

Curwin Bosch
Picked to start against Wales in Rassie’s first Test in charge, a loss of form during Super Rugby has meant that Bosch hasn’t  been in the Bok frame since. He’s now behind Le Roux, Kolbe and even Damian Willemse in the fullback pecking order, but write him off at your own peril.

The kid gets miles out of his kicking boot and averages nine metres per carry. One of those players who can easily win a match on his own, a successful performance from Bosch in the final may see his big boot come in handy to unstick the Boks from the mud in Europe.

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- Dawie Boonzaaier

Let's chat

  • Graham

    Brits has a lot more experience than Akker, also knows the northern conditions and players better than anyone and does the basics to a tee. Brits has to go on this tour even if its just in a consultancy capacity

    • Barry

      We are surely looking for our WC squad, so we should be rewarding players that have shown outstanding form and not those that, by their own volition, were heading off to retirement. You say he plays better than anyone, well when exactly was that? His brief stint in the Green and Gold was really average and he has not had game time for about two months! By contrast Akker has been breaking doors down. For Pete’s sake, why is Brits to be rewarded, what has done in modern times to deserve it???

  • Albert

    Some times Rassie’s squad selections just seem so bizarre. For instance, why was a 33 year old Aplon called into the squad? We need to be focusing on building our youngsters up and get as many of them in the tour as possible.

    I understand the need to get players who know the conditions and players but jeez, we have a 33 year old and a 37 year old in the squad who have never been the best in their positions. Akker should be there before Britz, let the legend retire in peace. As for Aplon, we have Willemse, Kolbe, Gellant, Bosch and Lleyds all in SA, young and capable of international rugby. We don’t need another geriatric in the squad who will miss the England match.

    • boyo

      36 Aplon is 36! We thought Big vic was old at the lst WC and he was a lock

    • Wesley

      I’m with you on blooding young players, but honestly I am happy Aplon is there in absence of Willie. When a lot of experienced players leave you sit with bit of a problem (just ask Heyneke, and Allister thereafter), and having old hands is best to keep the ship steady. Same with Britz a the beginning of the season. Bongi has played so much off the bench behind Marx he was sure to be short on starting experience for the Boks, and I am sure with Britz there helped him along and he was damn fiery against England, almost didn’t miss Marx. Aplon should do the same for Willemse. Age changes a player and mentoring the 20year olds is a good thing.

      • boyo

        WP fan? Where is schalk burger?

        • John Comyn

          Google “Schalk Burger”

          • boyo

            Na I am just giving him a hard time about wanting all these old guys back. Schalk burger is riding the pine at saracens.

    • John Comyn

      Rassie reckons Aplon is playing outstanding rugby at the moment.

      • boyo

        In Japan? Didnt carter go there to retire and he is younger than Aplon

        • John Comyn

          Actually it’s Grenoble in France!

          • boyo

            He plays for Toyota Verblitz under Jake White

    • Albert

      I stand corrected, Aplon is 36!!!

  • John Comyn

    To be honest I think the side has been decided on a while ago. It boggles my mind why we have to wait until the last game in the CC to announce the team who are leaving directly after the final. All the other sides NH and SH named their sides a long time ago.

    • IRC

      And if there’s an injury?

  • Chris Mouton

    My biggest worry is still scrummie. We just don’t have any decent scrummies at the moment. In my opinion Akker is better than Bongi. I like Bosch, but he has a tendency to kick too much. Leyds and Schickerling? Come now. There are many players that play better than they do. Would you pick Schickerling above Etzebeth, Mostert, Snyman and du Toit (I still believe he’s a better lock)?

    • Boyo

      And lood there is absolutely no need for him but it’s jobs for pals

      • Boyo

        By him I mean schickerling

  • Barry

    The reality is that it is already too late to make the side. SA Rugby would have us believe that if you put in a big one on Saturday you’ve got a chance of making the squad. The reality is that they depart shortly after the game, so arrangements will already have been made! Rassie knows already who he will be taking and the players know as well. So if your a Sharkie and haven’t had a call as yet, then don’t bother packing an extra jersey or two and absolutely no need for your passport!

    The debate really should be who has already done enough to be included? My thoughts: SP Marais, not Leyds, he has been exceptional over past few weeks and has the experience not to panic.
    I have already commented on Akker VDM, but I am quite sure that the selectors will find a reason why not!
    Dan Du preeze upstaged Whitely twice – last week in Currie Cup and the last Sharks Lions Game in SR, but we already know that Whitely is on the plane – how come??
    Sergel Petersen, has also been in great form, I would take him along as backup!
    Who is our third choice Fly half? Certainly not Willemse – he’s not Provinces first choice, so why not Rob Du Preeze?

    • Mike Stoop

      Again with the Du Preeze. If you’re going to punt player, at least get his name right. Du Preez, without the e at the end. Damn, it is irritating.

      • Barry

        Well that must be the contribution of the decade! Is that all you have to offer?

        • Mike Stoop

          If you want to vent an opinion, please honour us with some attention to detail. It just adds to credibility.

          • Barry

            Wow what a twit. Please read your post again. You missed “a” out in your sentence – “punt player” is not good English. How embarrassing, you try to be cute with your comments and then screw up your own post! Hope you enjoyed the fame. Lol

        • Chris Mouton

          He’s just stooping to a lower level…I agree regarding the Du Preez’s. They’ve been in great form!

  • Herman Schroder?

    They say a person who continuously smiles when under pressure ( eg. J. Zuma ) simply has no idea what he is doing most of the time. Rassie also falls into this category. He is playing with the Bok jersey under this old argument of preparing for the WC. He is handing out caps left right and centre to please his ‘masters’ and for some unknown reason gifting just about everyone he has come across at Newlands with Bok status. He is desperately trying to satisfy everyone and will end up satisfying no one imo.

    His honeymoon is over and all he has to show for it after ten tests is a very lucky 50% win ratio only marginally better than the much maligned AC. All he has achieved so far is to make us marginally more competitive but that is not the same as asserting yourself on the world stage, that is just doing your job up to an acceptable level. All the gains of a decidedly lucky win in NZ was cancelled out by the usual big time implosion at HOME to the old enemy who even then were not at their best. Losing to five countries in 10 tests is hardly an achievement if truth be told. The bar was set so low by AC and HM before him that any win is now lauded from the rooftops.

    His Bok squad is a joke when one takes into account all the ‘one hit wonders’ he has already graced with a Bok jersey during these inconsistent ten tests. Players it seems are now picked on their watered down CC performances when previously we were told SR is not test rugby. He claims that he will be able to see who has the ability to cope with test rugby over the next few games. Really ? If he is to play his strongest XV in order to create this mythical ‘winning culture’ then with 36 players in the squad where exactly will these ‘newbies’ have the opportunity to ‘strut their stuff’ ? Is a few appearances with five minutes to go going to prove anything in the greater scheme of things ?.

    For example after ten tests we still don’t know if Papier or van Zyj can actually cope with test rugby. Rassie’s soliution is to bring back the original ‘Mr Average plodder’ himself, Louis Schreuder. The Akker van der Merwe / Britz joke has already been mentioned on this site and it actually makes a mockery of our domestic game and SR. WP / Stormers past and present have 19 players in the 36 man squad with the Bulls another 7 and therefore comprising about 75% of the touring team. These two teams finished 11th and 12th in SR so clearly SR is not taken into account when finding players with the right stuff. But apparently recent form in this excuse for a CC does, according to Rassie. What a joke.

    The Sharks with a mere 4 players and our No 1 team the Lions a rather insignificant 5 players. The only teams that were at least in the frame come play off time in SR with the Sharks klapping the pride of WP on their home turf in the WD CC yesterday. Coach Ackerman at Gloucester should give Akker a call, he has no future here. Either of the Du Preez brothers in the pack would be better than over the hill non tackling Francois Louw etc. etc.

    I could go on taking this squad to pieces but I think I have made my point except for one final shot which I will make in a separate post because they will no doubt pull this post if I included it here. Rassie can prove me wrong by winning all four tests coming up but anything less will mean we will be just as in the dark as we were before he arrived on the scene. He has cheapened the Bok jersey imo and must be held accountable if he fails. Cheers.

  • Herman Schroder?

    The Rassie lament. Part Two : TRANSFORMATION !!. Lets have a look at Rassie’s current squad make up, remembering of course that I didn’t bring the numbers game into the equation, Rassie and his ‘masters’ did. Twenty forwards in the squad only four ‘transformers’ or 20%. Sixteen backs and a very laudable nine ‘transformers’ represented or 56%. Combining the two we then have 13 out of a possible 36 or a mere 36%. With the WC in mind and the targeted 50% required by his masters Rassie is going to be hard pressed to get anywhere near that figure with only three tests remaining after the EOYT and before the WC kicks off.

    Now lets look at the 9 backs first off. Kolbe and Aplon should never be there. Wings are a dime a dozen back home with many of them more robust and as ‘twinkle toed’ as the imports. Seargal Petersen was not very flash in SR but based on his watered down CC form gets the nod ( joke ). The jury is still out on D’Allende when he manages to stay out of the doctors waiting room. Jantjies is my go to man with a ‘modern’ game plan in place and I make no bones about it. Nkosi and Dyantyi probably shoe in’s although Dyantyi must stop believing his press as he has been decidedly ropey his last few games. I’m not totally one eyed when it comes to the Lions players, lol.

    And then the most overrated of the lot, Damien Willemse. Yesterday’s CC final again proves that he is all flash and little class. He wasn’t great in SR and the same applies to the U20 tournament in France earlier this year. Talented he may be but nowhere near international class at this stage of his career. Rassie is rushing him but the EOYT is not the place to really test his mettle, let him have a successful SR first.

    As for the four forwards well Kolisi has regained form no doubt but still not sure that he is a truly inspirational leader as such. The meltdown of the Boks at Loftus may give us a clue. Nyakane is deserved although we have more decent props running around than scrum halves at the moment. Notshe and Mbonambi are workmanlike but not much above average.

    For those who may think I am on an anti ‘transformer’ campaign rest assured that is simply not the case. Many of the backs I mentioned have better replacements of the same ‘hue’ right here in sunny SA so the need for the overseas contingent, for example, is unnecessary imo.

    What I’m trying to point out is that Rassie is busy painting himself into a corner big time. He might feel entirely comfortable with his selections knowing that he has the backing of SARU but at the end of the day, like all his predecessors, he must be judged on his results. Since 2007 every coach has come up with this ‘I’m planning for the WC’ mantra without success and all the warning bells were simply ignored until it was too late. Must we once more go through that misery.

    In the greater scheme of things is next year’s SR superfluous ? What if real strong contenders come to the fore will all this preparation be wasted ? The AB’s don’t plan for WC’s they play each game to win and the WC they say will sort itself out. We should do the same.

    Rassie’s juggling act is not sustainable including the ‘transformation’ issue as well as the unnecessary inclusion of the overseas players being my main bugbears. Selections are also horribly in favour of a failed Franchise and form in SR apparently has no place in his thinking. More than half the WP team that played yesterday are now Springboks and were poor on the day and that in a petty watered down competition. Rassie’s moment of truth is fast approaching and by 7pm on the 24th October we will be much wiser. Triumphant or miserable to the core ? The balls in your court Rassie. Cheers.

  • Herman Schroder?

    What an absolutely pathetic ‘CC’ final. The two playoff ‘chokers’ playing each other in the much advertised FINAL the supposedly oldest and greatest inter provincial trophy in the world. And what do we get, an insult to the Cup.

    If some are thinking I’m being a bit harsh here think again. Take a look at the Mitre 10 Cup final between Canterbury and Auckland yesterday morning. Played in teeming rain and 9 tries scored including extra time. A totally different class.

    What do we get. Perfect weather ( if a bit hot ) a gentle breeze blowing and two tries scored in 80 minutes. In true WP / Stormers style so prevalent in the AC dom krag years and then the failed Fleck years, they abandoned their game plan for the tried and failed dom krag rubbish and paid the price. It seems Dobson is not as bright as I thought he was more’s the pity.

    The Sharks were deserved winners in this low standard farce but then again maybe it would have been more deserving if the Lions and Bulls had contested the Final judging by the two semi’s. As it turned out I had some family out from NZ who attended the game and I had to apologize to them for the dross dished up. Very embarrassing.

    No we are not on the right path in this country, dom krag still reigns supreme. Cheers.

    • Greg Shark

      Hermie, your many pages of long winded previous comments made some interesting and ‘giggling’ reading if not spoilt a little by your tendency to use words rather extravagantly when just a sentence would do. None-the-less, I did find some space to nod in agreement until you dished up your last sour-puss comment – really Bulls vz Lions CC (nearly forgot, ‘watered down’) when the Lions were comprehensively torn apart by the Sharks only to be rewarded a lost forward try and gifted a long pass to the wrong ‘skosan’ who was just jogging back after a failed attempt to score a try…. REALLY? Bulls vz Sharks, yes I could get my head around that but the lions? beaten 3x this year by the infant Sharks and you honestly believe they’re WD CC contenders?

      You did finish off reminding me of how narcissistic your comments can get….you ’embarrassed’ your ‘visitors’ had to watch the CC final (oops sorry WD)…..as if you’d anything to do with it? You would really have been truly embarrassed if the lions had played the Sharks in the final and got beaten for the 4th time. BUT then equally you must have been embarrassed that your team got so comprehensively torn apart in the semis? Pity your guests never saw that game, hey?

      • Herman Schroder?

        Dear Greg, thanks so much for your response and your tips on how to write a post on these forums. I’ve been doing it for 5 years now and I write the way I choose which I think is my prerogative. If there is a course that you think I should attend please forward the details.

        By the way years of doing this has taught me that one long article where you provide the facts, both pro and con, provides a great deal of clarity for those who wish to challenge my point of view and eliminates unnecessary and obvious questions. Only those who cannot provide a decent response seem to resort to personal insults which seems confirmed by your post. But having said that I will never deny you the right to criticize and challenge me. We do have freedom of the press after all, or do we ?

        Imo your sensitivity about the Sharks has caused you to react a wee bit illogically my friend. If you chose to compare what the Lions have achieved with what your your boys have achieved in SR these past few years then you’re on a hiding to nothing. Suffice to say one fortuitous win in four years in SR by the Sharks just about sums up the difference between the two sides.

        Let’s also eliminate the WD CC, it does not produce the best team in the country only the best watered down team, lol. . Even so that last scrum in the semi should have gone to the Lions. The Sharks knocked on in the lineout only for Marius ( who has just been booted out of the top flight referee’s panel ) to ignore WW’s protests. The subsequent scrum should also have been blown up as the Sharks were being monstered by the Lions ‘lightie’ U21 pack. Marius obviously suffering from ‘home town ref’ syndrome. Also your SR CC team and SR coach pitted against the ‘lighties’ and a brand new coach should also be added to the advantages you had but what the heck if it gives you some comfort, enjoy it.

        And to be fair to the Sharkettes did have their moments in SR but hopelessly too inconsistent, I’m sure you agree. One of the best games in SR was your Hurricanes match which again you managed to lose. There is a smidgen more effort to expand your game plan but to take a real step forward you desperately need a visionary coach, RduP Snr will never cut it. For SR we need for the other three Franchises to step up to the plate maybe then this toxic provincialism will be unnecessary. Cheers.

  • Greg Shark

    Ha Ha…..hermie, you’re a real card… I heard a great story a while ago, I’ll shorten it for you….. basically if you’re doing the same thing over and over for 5 years and the result is still boring and long winded, then you only satisfying your inner belief that your commentary is illuminating…..get it? ha ha ha….None-the-less, I am impressed that you willing to better yourself and attend a writing course but I think its more a psychological need ….

    Anyway hermie, just keep it up so I have something comical to read among all the comments that are usually sharp and to the point, lacking the self laudatory sparkle that I’ve become so accustomed to ….

    What have the lions actually achieved hermie….. in the last 10 years a mere scratch in the sand by comparison to the SHARKS…..well, I guess after all you have nothing much to say since your ‘lighties’ got whipped so often this year, that excuse of new coach and new players seems a little light on substance…..or are you then saying that the SHARKS effort in the last 4 years could also be attributed to a completely new team and no less than 4 coaches. That seems to be your excuse…huh?

    So maybe your eyes deceived you ‘cos in the last lineout of the CC semi the ball came off whitely forward onto the arm of the Sharks player and then back onto the lions side….maybe that’s called a knock on? None-the-less, the 1st try the lions got, dyantyi got hauled in by that mercurially fast new kid on the block 19yr old Aphelele, lost the ball forward and a try was given…..the same Marius you have disparaging comment about? BUT don’t worry hermie I’m just taking the piss out of you ‘cos there’s not much going for you to crow about domkrag and all….

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