Former Scotland and Springbok hooker John Allan has criticised Schalk Brits’ inclusion in the November Test squad at the expense of Akker van der Merwe. DYLAN JACK reports.
Van der Merwe was left out of the Bok squad despite a Man of the Match performance in the Sharks’ Currie Cup final victory against Western Province at Newlands.
Instead, Province hooker Bongi Mbonambi, whose stock has taken a downturn since his excellent performances in the 2-1 series win over England in June, and veteran Brits have been included with Malcolm Marx.
Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus explained that Brits, a former Saracens player, was included for his experience and knowledge of England and added that he did not base his selections on one game.
However, Allan, who played for Scotland between 1988 and 1993 before returning to play for the Boks, rubbished Erasmus’ claims and questioned the message including Brits over Van der Merwe sends.
‘It is a disgrace. Akker was outstanding in the semi-final [against the Golden Lions] and the final,’ Allan told SARugbymag.co.za. ‘He played most of the game, even in the semi when he had half an eye and still played out of his skin.
‘To be neglected, and then you pick a 37-year-old hooker who is at the end of his career is sending a bad message. I have nothing against Schalk Brits, he is a great player, but he hung up his boots earlier this year.’
‘When is he going to get a game? You have Malcolm Marx, who is the world’s best, and Bongi, who has played well, and Akker, who has played out of his skin. Schalk has not even played. There is no logic and it is sending a bad message.
‘What more does Akker have to do? If you go to a World Cup, you should do what New Zealand do and take players to blood them so they are ready for the tournament. People say Jake White brought [prop] Os du Randt back for the 2007 World Cup but the thing is that Os played. Schalk is not going to play and is definitely not above Malcolm or Bongi for that matter.’
‘Every coach has a reason for selecting players and you will never please everyone. If you get 80% right, which Erasmus has, you are doing well, but this is bizarre.’
POLL: Who would you have picked as the third hooker for the Springboks’ end-of-year tour squad?
— SA Rugby magazine (@SARugbymag) October 30, 2018
Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images