Former Bok prop Robbie Kempson says Lions prop Julian Redelinghuys should be selected for the Springboks' end-of-year tour. BRENTON CHELIN reports.
The Boks need tighthead props. It's not a new revelation, but it's an issue that's become even more crucial following the news that Marcel van der Merwe has been ruled out for the rest of the year.
The injury to the Blue Bulls front rower has again raised question marks over the Bok management's foresight and planning. Why has there been no contingency plan put in place over the last few seasons?
Heyneke Meyer has been in charge of the Boks for close on three seasons now and Jannie du Plessis has retained sole ownership of the No 3 jersey during that period. Du Plessis has served his country well, but has cut a jaded figure at stages this season. The time has come to make serious inroads into the development of another Test-level tighthead.
Du Plessis definitely still has a role to play, but what should concern Meyer the most is, if fate should intervene during or prior to the first Test against Ireland, the Boks will have no one to replace him. A year out from the World Cup, that's a dangerous position to be in.
Speaking to SARugbymag.co.za on Tuesday, Robbie Kempson said that form should be the guiding factor in the selection process, and that the Boks should look no further than Redelinghuys.
'Julian Redelinghys is the ideal tighthead for the Boks. Players need to be selected on their form, and he is definitely on form right now,' said Kempson. 'He is a powerful scrummager who complements well with the rest of the Lions front row. The Lions have the strongest pack in the Currie Cup this season, while they also did well during Super Rugby.'
With Redelinghuys still involved in the Currie Cup, Sharks tighthead Lourens Adriaanse has joined up with the Boks in Stellenbosch. Adriaanse toured with the Boks last year, but only has seven minutes of Test rugby to his name.
'Adriaanse is a player you want sitting on the Bok bench,' said Kempson. 'He adds a different dimension with his good ball skills and excellent work rate.'
It was during last season's end-of-year tour that Coenie Oosthuizen gave his most promising performance yet at tighthead. That showing against France has been undermined by his form this year, where he was dropped for the Rugby Championship. Kempson hopes that we've seen the last of the tighthead experiment.
'Coenie shouldn't be added to the Bok set-up as a tighthead again. He was rarely granted the opportunity to excel in his primary loosehead position for the Boks. There isn't much competition at loosehead, so he should be given that chance.'
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