SA North vs South: The northern team

With New Zealand set to hold a North-South trial match later in August, DYLAN JACK picks a northern team for a hypothetical South African version of the match.

Ed’s note: CRAIG LEWIS will select a South African ‘southern team’

New Zealand Rugby came up with an enterprising idea by holding a match between North and South Island sides. The match – scheduled for 29 August – would act as a trial for All Blacks selection and players would be eligible for either the North or South Island side depending on which province they made their first-class debut for.

ALSO READ: All Blacks coach reveals criteria for North-South Match

Here we have done something a bit different, which sees us conjure up a South African version to be seen not so much as a Springbok trial, but rather a friendly that could be used to draw a large crowd into the stadium (when such crowds are safely allowed to gather, of course).

Secondly, we have based my eligibility criteria on where players are currently contracted. That means, for example, that unfortunately neither Malcolm Marx nor Tyrone Green is eligible for the North team as they are both contracted to overseas-based teams. We have also factored in new signings, such as Gio Aplon and Arno Botha, who have both recently joined the Vodacom Bulls.

The North XV’s back three features players who would be perfect for an end-to-end friendly match played in almost a Barbarians atmosphere. Aplon, who recently moved to the Bulls from Japan, plays at fullback and is joined in the back three by Rhyno Smith, who has been in sublime form for the Cheetahs in the PRO14, and Rosko Specman, who has brought the X factor to the Bulls for the last couple of years and will soon be running out in a Cheetahs jersey.

In midfield, I have gone for an exciting pairing of Wandisile Simelane and Frans Steyn, who has joined the Cheetahs from Montpellier and should get fans off their seats with his rocket of a boot. Elton Jantjies, whose distribution skills would be key for this type of game, and Ruan Pienaar form the halfback pairing.

Duane Vermeulen would captain the team at No 8 and is joined by Arno Botha, who recently starred for Munster before moving back to the Bulls. A fit-again Jaco Kriel would complement the former two and complete the loose trio.

At lock, the underrated Marvin Orie and promising Sintu Manjezi make the cut, while an all-Bulls front row of Trevor Nyakane, Jaco Visagie and Lizo Gqoboka complete the starting lineup.

On the bench, Corniel Els and Lions duo Dylan Smith and Jannie du Plessis provide backup for the front row. Willem Alberts could come on at either lock or flank, while Nizaam Carr – who recently joined the Bulls from Wasps – will provide plenty of running power off the bench.  Embrose Papier could speed the game up if he comes on for Pienaar, while Morne Steyn will bring plenty of experience at flyhalf and Cornal Hendricks the same at wing.

North XV – 15 Gio Aplon (Bulls), 14 Rhyno Smith (Cheetahs), 13 Wandisile Simelane (Lions), 12 Frans Steyn (Cheetahs), 11 Rosko Specman (Cheetahs), 10 Elton Jantjies (Lions), 9 Ruan Pienaar (Cheetahs), 8 Duane Vermeulen (Bulls, c), 7 Arno Botha (Bulls), 6 Jaco Kriel (Lions), 5 Marvin Orie (Lions), 4 Sintu Manjezi (Bulls), 3 Trevor Nyakane (Bulls), 2 Jaco Visagie (Bulls), 1 Lizo Gqoboka (Bulls).
Subs: 16 Corniel Els (Bulls), 17 Dylan Smith (Lions), 18 Jannie du Plessis (Lions), 19 Willem Alberts (Lions), 20 Nizaam Carr (Bulls), 21 Embrose Papier (Bulls), 22 Morne Steyn (Bulls), 23 Cornal Hendricks (Bulls).

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Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

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Dylan Jack