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Gareth Duncan

Jean’s a 12, not a 13


Jean de Villiers has the class and experience to play at inside centre in my ideal Fans' XV, writes GARETH DUNCAN.

My colleague Jon Cardinelli believes De Villiers should be picked at outside centre. I disagree. He's been outstanding at inside centre all year and should be picked there for the Boks.

He was inconsistent in 2012, but it must be noted that he was rotated between 12 and 13, which denied him the opportunity to settle. Keep him in his best position.

De Villiers has been the most consistent performer in the No 12 jersey among all South African centres this season. He still adds plenty of value as an effective ball-carrier, sucking in the defenders in midfield, which creates space for the outside backs. He’s also a solid and dependable defender, which is crucial for any Test centre.

With 87 Test appearances since 2002, his experience is invaluable and this has been the key to his successful run as Bok captain. Successful coaches have stressed the importance of experience, especially in big games and at World Cups. If managed correctly over the next few seasons, De Villiers will be a strong option between now and 2015.

I have noted the rapid rise of Jan Serfontein, who will challenge De Villiers for the No 12 jersey. This shouldn’t be seen as a negative as the competition will be healthy for both players.

We'll have Serfontein soaking up knowledge and mastering his craft under De Villiers, who will know he can’t afford to be complacent or he’ll lose his starting spot. This is a similar luxury the All Blacks have with Richie McCaw and Sam Cane.

I know Serfontein well and he’s a patient man. The 20-year-old’s time will come. For now, South Africa should depend on De Villiers.

Click here to select your inside centre!

Simon Borchardt: Why a fit Frans Steyn should be picked at 12

* Every weekday a new position will be made available in the Fans' XV, and every time you make a selection you will go into the draw for the grand prize: two tickets for the Boks vs All Blacks Test at Ellis Park, including flights and accommodation!

Photo: Barry Aldworth/BackpagePix

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