FIVE SELECTION POSERS FOR SPRINGBOKS COACH HEYNEKE MEYER BEFORE THEIR 31-MAN RUGBY WORLD CUP SQUAD IS ANNOUNCED ON FRIDAY.
JEAN DE VILLIERS
The 34-year-old inside centre and captain appears set to be picked despite a disastrous return to Test action in which he broke his jaw having just made a miraculous recovery from a serious knee injury.
A respected Johannesburg Times columnist labelled him a “carthorse” after the Springboks were humiliated 37-25 by Argentina in Durban — the first loss to the South Americans.
Even though the jaw injury will reportedly prevent De Villiers facing Japan on September 19, various comments by Meyer suggest his first-choice skipper is going to England.
The plan this season was for Meyer to choose seven black players in each matchday 23, but it has not happened once in four World Cup warm-up matches.
Instead, five were chosen and not more than three started until the non-Rugby Championship Test in Argentina when the figure rose to four.
Some white Springbok supporters believe blacks weaken the team, but the only match won by the twice former world champions this year was when the percentage of black starters increased.
A justifiable complaint from sections of the media is that virtually every time Meyer has to choose between white and black players of equal ability, he opts for the white.
FOURIE DU PREEZ
Meyer has publicly insisted numerous times this year that his selections will be based on form rather than reputations, but Du Preez is a glaring exception to the rule.
The 33-year-old scrum-half has not played since the Japanese season ended last February with several promised returns during the Rugby Championship failing to materialise.
Who to leave out will be the major challenge for Meyer when it comes to his flankers as he has plenty of top-class operators.
Assuming they are declared fit, ball-carrier Willem Alberts and scavenger Francois Louw are the likely first choices in a back row ideally completed by Vermeulen.
That leave a quintet of Heinrich Brussow, Schalk Burger, Marcell Coetzee, Siya Kolisi and Teboho ‘Oupa’ Mahoje fighting for probably three places.
Opinions are sharply divided over the ace goal-kicker and fly-half whose four penalties won the French Top 14 final for Stade Francais two months ago.
In the Springbok playmaker pecking order, Patrick Lambie and Handre Pollard are competing to be first choice, and Steyn and Elton Jantjies to make the squad.