Reinach and Pollard are the future

Mike Greenaway

The Super Rugby season starts on Thursday under a cloud of uncertainty regarding the future of the Springbok coaching staff and related issues such as the selection of overseas-based players for the Boks. This will play on the minds of local players that have higher honours in their sights.

For instance, who will succeed Adriaan Strauss as hooker and who will be the new Bok captain?

Malcolm Marx at the Lions will feel he has the inside track and has everything to play for, but would a possible new coach recall Bismarck du Plessis?

Will Duane Vermeuelen come back from France to captain the side from No 8, or will SA Rugby rule that the selection of overseas-based players must cease, regardless of whether Allister Coetzee remains in his position.

In short, a heck of a lot can change between next Thursday’s big kick-off and the first Test of three against France on 10 June.

In the meantime, the players can do little more than put their heads down and give of their best for their franchises in the hope that the Bok jersey materialises.

All that they can control is their form.

But there are some positions that are highly contestable, whether or not the controversial policy of resorting to “former” SA players is retained.

Let us look at inside centre, for example.  It is mouth-watering for the unbiased observer to know that, at the Stormers, Damian de Allende is playing for his Springbok life under threat from Rohan Janse van Rensburg of the Lions. And let us not forget that Jan Serfontein of the Bulls is back from long-term injury.

Flyhalf, of course, will be a position under the microscope as three young Springboks based in South Africa scrap for the jersey. Elton Jantjies was the man mostly in possession last year, partly because of his brilliant form for the Lions in 2016 but also because Handre Pollard and Patrick Lambie were injured.

We have to presume that the Springbok coach, whoever it may be, will finally “retire” Morne Steyn, with respect to a player that has served his country with distinction, but is not the future.

Where is your money on the No 10 debate?

Jantjies has it all to do once more in Super Rugby after failing to make the step up to international rugby last year, Pollard has not played for a year after finishing 2015 as the Springboks’ World Cup flyhalf, while Lambie has barely played in Super Rugby for three years because of early season injuries.

Late last year, the Sharks playmaker was unfairly rushed back by a panicking Allister Coetzee after having recovered from a severe concussion suffered in the Boks’ first match of the year against Ireland, on June 11. He was understandably not at his best, especially as he was picked out of position at fullback.

After three months on the sidelines, he had played 40 minutes for the Sharks in the Currie Cup and then was then starting against the Wallabies in Pretoria.

The No 10 duel will possibly come down to Lambie v Pollard, and who knows what we can expect from either given they have barely played since being in such hot competition for the vital position at the 2015 World Cup.

It was Lambie that started against Japan, ahead of Pollard, in the first-round of that tournament and the Durban man was one of the scapegoats for that catastrophic defeat. Pollard started the next week against Samoa and then in all of the Boks’ remaining  World Cup matches, and he played with conviction and aplomb.

Lambie, to his horror, was also the starting flyhalf when the Boks lost to Italy in Florence last year, but let’s be fair, that was a team disaster that had been building all season and it would not have mattered who had started at 10.

On that point, it was Pollard that started at 10 when the Boks disastrously lost to Argentina in Durban in 2015, prompting coach Heyneke Meyer to choose Lambie for the opening game of the World Cup…

So it is all to play for at 10 for Jantjies, Pollard and Lambie, all based in South Africa, and let us not forget a few other positions that will be hotly contested, never mind the policy regarding the ex-pats.

Who would the punter back to partner Eben Etzebeth at lock? Lood de Jager, who is due a return to form after a quiet 2016, or Pieter-Steph du Toit?

For this scribe, as we enter Super Rugby, Marx is my pick for the No 2 jersey; Pieter-Steph has the inside track to partner Eben, given Lood’s underwhelming form last year; Pollard ended the World Cup in commanding form and will be the man to beat at 10, should he be able able to pick up where he left off after a year’s absence, while at inside centre De Allende has a big challenge to regain lost form, and Janse van Rensburg should be pencilled in at this stage.

Scrumhalf? I am going to stick my neck out and contend that Reinach is technically a better scrumhalf than Faf, who was found wanting at international level. A Pollard- Reinach combination is untested, but has exciting potential written all over it!

- Mike Greenaway

Let's chat

  • Johan

    Can we please stop this love affair with Pollard?

    He has been out for a year and will have to prove he is the best in SA before you can write articles like: “Reinach and Pollard are the future”

    • Kokkie

      I couldn’t agree more with what you say, Johan.

    • Rob

      Johan, there is only one flyhalf in SA, the fact the Bulls have made him captian says a lot about his form. He is truely a cut above the rest. maybe watch the game with the blinkers off this year, you might learn something.

      • Henry

        The Bulls also chose Strauss as captain and so did the Springboks and look how it went.

    • neville de villiers

      Jip agree after injury u not the same player

    • Riaan

      Well said, I agree 100%

  • Gary Laight

    I though Robert DuPreez Jnr had a decent game for the Baabaas at the end of last year… He could be a bit of a dark horse!

    • Kokkie

      Robert du Preez is not a halfback. He should invest in a scrum cap and join the forwards, like his brothers.

  • roberto

    Pollard needs to prove his worth,lets give him time and than judge, as for rohan, i still think he is the best 12 in the country at the moment, its all to play for this year.. ..

  • Calie

    I agree Pollard still has a lot to prove. I am an avid Bulls supporter, but once it comes to picking players for the Springboks, it shouldn’t matter who they play for. I also think young Du Preez from the Stormers has a lot of potential. Our main problem as supporters is that we can’t get over our bias as provincial supporters when it comes to the Boks.

  • Bennie

    Has no one seen what Jean Luc Du Plessis did last year at 10 for the Stormers? After du Preez and Coleman broke down, Jean Luc was a fresh breath, coming from good stock as well.

    • Kokkie

      I abolutely agree with you, Bennie. Watch him in a couple of years’ time. He is the man for the future.

  • Nick

    When it comes to selection this season pls select the right guy for the position irrespective of color or race. if it has to be all white so be it or all black so be it. we need to get back to our pride in RSA. RUGBY

  • corneels

    still early days lets wait and see who is on form a player must be pick on form and not on reputation

  • elwayne

    hmmm..everybody please dont wright #ANDRE ESTERHUIZEN off possible #12 for the springboks

  • Ewald

    Play the players on form and the best suited for a specific game plan regardless of race and Springboks will be again a team to be proud off.

  • Schalk

    Best probable Bok team for 2017:
    This is all pie-in-the-sky stuff and we have to factor in the idiotic race quotas but this will be my wish list for a training squad if I had to select the best possible team to take on the AB’s in a once-off, first test of the year.
    Close run and/or 2nd choice in brackets.
    Cheslin Kolbe. (Curwin Bosch)
    Seabelo Senatla (Travis Ismael))
    Francois Venter (Lionel Mapoe – Paul Jordaan))
    Jan Serfontein (Ruhan Janse van Rensburg – Dan du Plessis)
    Jambo Ulengo (Combrinck)
    Handre Pollard (Pat Lambie – Robert du Preez)
    Jaco Reinach (Rudy Page – Jano Vermaak))
    Steven Kitshoff (Beast Mtawarira)
    Bismarck du Plessis (Malcolm Marx – Bongi Mbonani)
    Frans Malherbe (Trevor Nyakane – Koch)
    Marcell Coetzee (Siya Kolisi)
    Eben Etzebeth (Lood de Jager)
    Pieter-Steph du Toit (Capt)
    Francois Louw (Heinrich Brussouw)
    Duane Vermeulen. (Notsche)

    35 players that I consider worthwhile of Bok honours with 5 openings for new talent to make their mark during
    the Super season.
    My pennies worth

    • Lionel Lippert

      Thats a very well balance side. Agree 100%.The coach must have freedom to select his best side with no interferance.

      • Kys

        Geen LEEU in die span nie? Ek wonder?

  • Ibraheem

    Do the boks have structure or are we still finding our feet .whats the point of having players on form if they cant play for each other .

  • JP

    I know that Pollard plays 10 for the Bulls but how about Lambie at 10 and Pollard at 12?

  • Byron

    To early to talk Schalk…like your squad…i still blieve Aplon is the man for the 15 jersey! I dont rate Louw/Brussow aswell, as i blieve we can do abit better..

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