Nine Lions players made the Springboks' Rugby Championship squad of 31, but it should have been 10, writes MARK KEOHANE.
The omission that should be a shock is that of uncapped Lions inside centre Rohan Janse van Rensburg. He has been a menace throughout Super Rugby and easily the form centre in South Africa, if not the tournament.
Janse van Rensburg’s strength in the collision, his appetite for the confrontation but also his awareness of space as much as face, made him the ‘go-to guy’ in a Lions season that produced a remarkable 81 tries in 18 matches, before the final.
Janse van Rensburg was strong in the final and, as he has done all year, invariably made an impression on the ball. His form is red-hot and Springbok coach Allister Coetzee has missed a trick in not selecting him, even if it didn’t need a magician to recognise Janse Van Rensburg’s pedigree.
It has taken an eternity for Jaco Kriel and Ruan Combrinck, by way of two examples, to break into the national equation. Janse van Rensburg seems in for a similarly long struggle to finally get international recognition.
Coetzee has gone with the centres he coached when at the Stormers and neither has matched the Lions No 12 for form in 2016.
Stormers captain Juan de Jongh has played Super Rugby and sevens and been more explosive in the sevens, and Springbok incumbent No 12 Damian de Allande has been off the pace and not the physical and imposing player of 2015.
I’d really like to have seen more form rewarded in Coetzee’s squad. It’s a conservative selection, devoid of too much inspiration and lacking in several areas.
Johan Goosen’s recall is encouraging but it can’t go amiss that not one of the nine South Africans who starred for Jake White’s Montpellier have received a national call or recall. The notable exceptions here are Frans Steyn and Bismarck du Plessis, who remains in a class of his own when compared to the three hookers selected for the Rugby Championship.
The black player representation is also predictable if nowhere near the 50% target spoken of as a must by the 2019 World Cup.
The key for Coetzee is to actually play the black squad players and not do as his predecessors did and inflate squad numbers by those who sit in the stands on match day.
Morné Steyn’s selection as cover for Pat Lambie is also debatable in a new cycle and supposedly a new era. Picking Steyn seems outdated in what was supposed to be an era characterised by what hasn’t been tried as opposed to what has been tried and what hasn’t worked.
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