• ‘Common sense must prevail’

    SARugbymag.co.za's panel of experts on the Springboks' absence from the remainder of the Currie Cup and which players should and should not have been released.

    WAYNE FYVIE (former Bok flank)

    Should all 20 contracted Boks have been pulled out of the rest of the Currie Cup?
    'Guys who have played a lot of rugby need to be pulled from the Currie Cup, because they need the rest before the end-of-year tour. We need to start being smarter about how we use our players considering the demands of modern-day rugby, and the amount of rugby the top guys are playing in South Africa. I understand there are contractual issues, but Saru and the unions need to find a way to come to an agreement regarding certain players, in order for a bit of common sense to prevail. The unions should look at the situation positively, and see opportunity in exposing their non-Springboks to the highest level of domestic rugby through Currie Cup play-off game time. Not only will we manage our top players better, but the development of rugby players in South Africa will also improve.'

    Wouldn't someone like Damian de Allende have benefited from some game time for Western Province?
    'Yes, once again common sense should be the driving factor and the management of players needs to work both ways. De Allende is an example of a guy who hasn’t played a great deal in the Rugby Championship, and is most likely eager for some game time. At this stage, the more games De Allende plays, the better. Having said that, we don’t know what Heyneke Meyer’s thinking is in regards of some squad members. For example, he may have plans to use De Allende overseas, perhaps to see him play in the same destination for the World Cup next year.'

    Does it make sense that Handré Pollard goes back to the Bulls, with JJ Engelbrecht going to the Boks?
    'Handré has become an integral part of the Bok cause, and Engelbrecht has dropped off Heyneke's radar by the looks of things. Pollard needs to be involved in everything the Springboks do from now until the World Cup, and if that means he needs to be at a training camp in Stellenbosch instead of going back to the Bulls, then that is what he must do. JJ needs game time in order to get back to form and give himself every chance of getting back into Heyneke's plans. Holding tackle bags out in Stellenbosch won’t allow him to do that, he needs to get game time under his belt.'

    NAAS BOTHA (former Bok flyhalf and SuperSport pundit)

    Should all 20 contracted Boks have been pulled out of the rest of the Currie Cup?
    'I would have loved to have seen these guys play in the Currie Cup, but the reality is that they need to be managed in accordance with the amount of games that they are playing. Common sense needs to prevail. The Bok front row of Beast [Mtawarira], Bismarck and Jannie [du Plessis] have played a great deal of rugby in physically demanding positions, so they need to be rested whenever they can. The same goes for a number of guys. For example, I don’t think [Victor] Matfield needs to go play Currie Cup rugby, where as a guy like [Eben] Etzebeth may benefit from game time because he hasn’t played a great deal of rugby this year.'

    Wouldn't someone like Damian de Allende have benefited from some game time for Western Province?
    'Yes, he needs game time in order to keep improving himself as a player. He is an example of a guy who hasn’t been over-played, and therefore should be available for Currie Cup selection.'

    Does it make sense that Handré Pollard goes back to the Bulls, with JJ Engelbrecht going to the Boks?
    'JJ needs game time, plain and simple. He isn’t going to help his cause by going to the Bok camp in Stellenbosch. He needs to get himself back into form, and the only way he can do that is through playing rugby. He will also have the opportunity to prove to Heyneke that he can perform in big games, with the climax of the Currie Cup on the horizon. Handré has had an indifferent season to most because he was away at the Junior World Championship for a large portion of the year, and hasn’t been exposed to the same game time intensities the others have. On top of that, flyhalf is a less gruelling position than that of a front rower for example. I see no harm in playing him in the Currie Cup too, as he hasn’t had that much game time in comparison to some of the other guys.'

    KOBUS WIESE (former Bok lock and SuperSport pundit)

    Should all 20 contracted Boks have been pulled out of the rest of the Currie Cup?
    'Yes, I believe so. The Boks are playing too much rugby and they are knackered. The rest will do them good. I believe the Currie Cup should be used as a stepping stone for talented youngsters coming through the ranks to showcase their abilities. People want to see the Boks play in the competition, but the welfare of these players are paramount, especially ahead of next year's gruelling international schedule.'

    Wouldn't someone like Damian de Allende have benefited from some game time for Western Province?
    'I don't know how De Allende's injury is coming along, perhaps he is an integral part of Heyneke's plans for the end-of-year tour and they don't want to risk him in the Currie Cup. But if he is fully fit, he should've been released to play for Western Province.'

    Does it make sense that Handré Pollard goes back to the Bulls, with JJ Engelbrecht going to the Boks?
    'Pollard has been given the go-ahead to link up with the Bulls yet he has played more than De Allende. Saru should just drop the double standards and make a decision to rest all the Springboks in the [current] squad, whether they are contracted or not. JJ is not in the squad, so it's pointless that he attends the training camp. The Bulls need him and he needs game time.'

    CORNÉ KRIGE (former Bok captain)

    Should all 20 contracted Boks have been pulled out of the rest of the Currie Cup?
    'In terms of the rest period, yes. Most of the guys will want to play in the Currie Cup, but their bodies just don't allow it. I feel for the unions, though. They sign these players on lucrative contracts and pay their salaries, yet their Boks are unavailable. The general consensus is that we need a central contracting system like New Zealand, but we don't have one at the moment and the unions have every right to feel aggrieved by the latest developments.'

    Wouldn't someone like Damian de Allende have benefited from some game time for Western Province?
    'It would have been good for him to get some game time under the belt before the November Tests, but I think Heyneke wants to keep the core of his squad together in the national set-up. It's difficult to adapt to the different structures and cultures of the national and provincial squads, so to do so in such a short amount of time is even harder. Taking into account his injury, I can understand why he was retained.'

    Does it make sense that Handré Pollard goes back to the Bulls, with JJ Engelbrecht going to the Boks?
    'There's no sense in it at all, but I think the Bulls are desperate to make the play-offs and Handré may just be what they need to secure the last semi-final spot. I don't know what to make of the Engelbrecht situation, it just doesn't add up. On current form, he shouldn't be there and should be given every opportunity to regain the form that earned him a starting role for the Boks.'

    Photo: Carl Fourie/Gallo Images

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    Mariette Adams