Seven South Africans will front the Wallabies in the guise of Barbarians at Twickenham, but it’s the 40 minutes from Heinrich Brüssow that could be the most significant, writes MARK KEOHANE.
Brüssow is the forgotten man of South African rugby and it’s a non-selection that has no merit, regardless of how it's packaged and sold to the rugby media and rugby public.
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer has never selected Brüssow. The closest the specialist openside flanker has come to the Springboks was an invite to one of the two-day camps.
Meyer’s counter to Brüssow is the player is a penalty liability and that his all-round game isn’t good enough to make up for the risk he offers as a supposed serial offender. But I have never concurred on this front and I have never felt Meyer has been justified in the omission of Brüssow.
Francois Louw and lately Marcell Coetzee have been excellent as openside options, but Brüssow would add value to any team, and his worth as an openside option will be on display, albeit in the disjointed approach of the Barbarians.
New Zealander Matt Todd starts for the Barbarians in an all-New Zealand loose trio. Brüssow is expected to play the second 40 and it may just be enough to remind the South African public of his skills and effectiveness.
He was colossal in 2009 when the Boks won three successive Tests against the All Blacks and he was influential in the 2-1 series win against the British & Irish Lions.
His contribution to the Springboks was significant at the 2011 World Cup, and when he didn't play, the Boks were weaker at the breakdown.
It’s time Meyer was challenged on his view on Brüssow – and it can only be done through performance.
A year ago Schalk Burger used the Barbarians fixture to further his comeback from illness and injury, and just maybe Brüssow’s performance can be of a similar standing.
It will be tough as it's not a particularly impressive Barbarians outfit. There is individual skill but the tight five, as a unit, are ordinary and the Wallabies will be too strong.
The Wallabies, a few seasons back, trounced a star-studded Barbarians by 60 points, so I don’t see them having too much trouble knocking over this combination.
However, Brüssow, as an openside, plays a game within a game and it’s this game that’s got the most appeal for me.
I believe he's still good enough to play for South Africa. Just maybe he'll convince a few others on Saturday, most notably Meyer.
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