‘Everyone deserves to be there’

What former Bok coach NICK MALLETT had to say on SuperSport about the Springbok squad.

'This is a really exciting squad and they are all there on form. It’s a really good mix of youth and experience. People haven’t been selected on reputation. We could perhaps argue about Duane Vermeulen and Francois Louw's selections, because we haven’t seen much of their performances overseas, but otherwise everyone else was selected on form in Super Rugby. So, it’s a really enthusiastic group of players, who deserve to be there. There is not one player there based on his reputation of playing well in the past and so we hope he plays well again.

'This squad has been selected very much around the way the Lions have played this season. The new guys who have come in are multi-skilled players, who step, offload and pass. But it takes long for a team to gel together and the Lions had to spend four years together before they could finally produce a performance like they did against the Bulls this afternoon and as they have done on a number of occasions this season. The Springbok coach does not have a lot of time with his players.

'I’m very interested to see the game plan the Springboks adopt against Ireland. Allister Coetzee has to maintain the Boks’ traditional strengths of scrummaging, lineouts, physical defence and winning the breakdown battle. When the Lions didn’t do that they lost against the Hurricanes. When they have done that, it's opened up a whole area of the game they could exploit. Play off the halfbacks, play out wide, use attacking kicks, but the team has to dominate up front first.

'I think the front-row battle is going to be the key in these three Tests against Ireland. The Irish will be a very shrewdly coached team, but they won’t know much about these Springbok players. Ireland will expect a lot of physicality, but to be honest they won’t really know how this side will play, whereas teams knew exactly how Heyneke Meyer’s team was going to play. This is a new era, starting against quite an experience Ireland side, which is a really good test for us because they are in the top three northern hemisphere teams. As I’ve said, they have some very good, talented individuals but so have we. What I think Springbok supporters want to see is that we don’t lose our dominance in the forwards, which will set the platform to exploit quick ball to get our backs to play the best they can.

'I’m very happy to see Steven Kitshoff’s name there. I did not want us to play against him in the years ahead should he have qualified for France. He is such a good loosehead prop, there was a chance that after three seasons of being there, maybe the French would have recruited him.

'It's lovely so see Sikhumbuzo Notshe there. He is a very athletic player with good skills. I’m pleased to see Scarra Ntubeni there as well. He is an explosive hooker with lots of potential and tighthead prop Julian Redelinghuys thoroughly deserves his selection. Siya Kolisi had a marvellous game against the Cheetahs and so did Jaco Kriel against the Bulls. We know Louw has great ability to play the ball on the ground and a lot of experience.

'We all expected Vermeulen to be there, so that’s good. But I’m especially happy for Warren Whiteley. He is not only a marvelous captain for the Lions, he is a multi-skilled captain. Warren can play flank, eighthman and sevens rugby.

'The loss of Schalk Burger could possibly go against Coetzee’s plans, because he does add value in terms of his leadership. But loose forward is not a position that we’re struggling to find talented players in.'

Jantjies on track for first Test

Photo: Anne Laing/HSM Images

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Nick Mallett