Jano Vermaak would start at scrumhalf in my ideal South African rugby team, writes SIMON BORCHARDT.
While a lot was made of Dewald Potgieter's decision not to go for goal when the Bulls were awarded three penalties in the final 13 minutes of their semi-final against the Brumbies, an equally costly one that didn't receive as much criticism was to start Francois Hougaard ahead of Jano Vermaak at scrumhalf.
I couldn't understand it. Hougaard had been struggling for form all season, and should have been on the wing if coach Frans Ludeke wanted to start him, while Vermaak was on top of his game, having made his Bok debut against Italy in June. Unfortunately he missed the next two Tests with a hamstring injury, but when he returned to the Bulls he looked just as good as he had before.
Vermaak's passing is quick and accurate, which is why Morné Steyn looked so much better when Vermaak came on in the second half of that Loftus semi-final, and the Bulls suddenly started getting go-forward ball and building momentum. Vermaak's box kicking is also far superior to Hougaard's.
I also rate Ruan Pienaar highly – he would be on my bench – but the in-form Vermaak would wear the No 9 jersey.
* 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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Your ultimate World Cup guide!
SA Rugby magazine's bumper 188-page World Cup preview issue is available in English and Afrikaans.