CRAIG LEWIS looks at an alternative Springbok team that could have been in action if certain players were injury-free or received call-ups from overseas clubs.
Understandably, a chorus of criticism has followed the Springboks’ performances this year, with a new-look team having already slipped to defeats against Ireland, Argentina, Australia and New Zealand.
Much has been made about the shortcomings of an underperforming team and coaching staff, but one has to wonder what could have been if a different set of players were in the mix?
Although Allister Coetzee has stated his intention to limit his selection of overseas-based players, the fact remains that a number of top South African players are increasingly plying their trade abroad.
In addition, injuries have also robbed Coetzee of potential first-choice selections in a number of key positions, and it’s undoubtedly limited both the available options, and compromised competition for places.
In a hypothetical equation, with injuries and overseas duties eleminated, it’s quite interesting to consider how different the Bok side could have looked in comparison to the squad that has done duty in the Rugby Championship to date.
The team below is not to suggest this is what a new Bok side should or would look like, but merely serves to highlight some of the alternative options available in various positions.
Alternative Springbok side – 15 Gio Aplon (Grenoble), 14 Willie le Roux (Canon Eagles), 13 Paul Jordaan (La Rochelle)/Jan Serfontein (injured), 12 Frans Steyn (Montpellier), 11 JP Pietersen (Leicester), 10 Handré Pollard (injured)/Pat Lambie (recently overcame injury), 9 Cobus Reinach (injured), 8 Pierre Spies (Montpellier)/Duane Vermeulen (injured), 7 Schalk Burger (Saracens), 6 Marcell Coetzee (injured), 5 Flip van der Merwe (Clermont), 4 Jacques du Plessis (Montpellier), 3 Jannie du Plessis (Montpellier)/Marcel van der Merwe (Toulon), 2 Bismarck du Plessis (injured/Montpellier), 1 Heinke van der Merwe (Pau).
While this is not to suggest there should be a mass recall for overseas-based players, it does provide an appreciation for the talent available abroad, and how certain injured players have been sorely missed.
Photo: Duif du Toit/Gallo Images