The nine new caps are flankers Marcell Coetzee and Jacques Potgieter, locks Eben Etzebeth, Juandre Kruger and Franco Van der Merwe, fly-half Elton Jantjies, centre JJ Engelbreht, prop Coonie Oosthuizen and scrum-half Jano Vermaak. The introduction of these talents to International rugby meant that there was no room for former Lions destroyer Heinrich Brussow, or the Stormers' electric duo of Juan deJongh and Gio Aplon too. Shocked?
Meyer more adventurous than we realised
Even with injuries to experienced pros such as Schalk Burger and Juan Smith, not many pundits would have predicted such boldness in selection from a coach who is noted for his pragmatism. Meyer had made it patently clear since his appointment that his primary task with the Springboks was to win and nothing else would suffice. In the last few weeks he was quoted by South African media as saying he believed in 'two types of rugby; winning rugby and losing rugby. There is nothing in between for me'.
|No room for Bulls Legends: Du Preez and Matfield|
It seems we may just have underestimated the man's vision for South Africa's future in terms of personnel though. With influential Boks Victor Matfield and Fourie DuPreez not included, Meyer is disproving the rumours that he would favour past Bulls players who did the business for him. His selections have been adventurous and refreshing, even if this blogger suspects that the forwards oriented game of the Bulls will still be his main philosophy tactically.
Assessing the new caps
Assessing his squad I must admit that I don't disagree with many of his selections. Lock was clearly an area of concern given the cavernous void left by the departed Bakkies Botha and Victor Matfield. Andries Bekker's long-term injury with the Stormers didn't help matters much either. In a way his hand was forced in that position but no one can doubt the fact that Eben Etzebeth and Juandre Kruger deserve their spots for the brutal way in which they have gone about their campaign in this year's Super 15. Van der Merwe has perhaps profited the most but a spot needed filling and his inclusion will do no harm to the Springboks depth in that area.
|Coetzee has been banging the drum all season|
Heinrich Brussow, the man who effectively lost out, may feel deflated but the reality is that he hasn't returned to his stunning 2009 form for a long time now. Meyer is showing the ruthlessness in selection which perhaps Hansen hasn't showed with the All Blacks. Which attitude will reap more dividends in the long-term? That is the question.
Some of Meyer's other selections seem like prospects for the future. Don't expect to see Oosthuizen, Engelbrecht, Jantjies or Vermaak lining up against England in a weeks time. They are clearly selections based on a long-term strategy aimed at winning the 2015 World cup, much the same as Hansen's selections of the likes of Luke Whitelock, Brad Shields and co for the All Blacks this year.
2012 South Africa squad:
(New Caps in Blue)
Forwards: Willem Alberts, Marcell Coetzee, Keegan Daniel, Bismarck du Plessis, Jannie du Plessis, Eben Etzebeth, Ryan Kankowski, Juandré Kruger, Werner Kruger, Tendai Mtawarira, Coenie Oosthuizen, Jacques Potgieter, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Pierre Spies, Adriaan Strauss, Flip van der Merwe, Franco van der Merwe,
Backs: Bjorn Basson, Jean de Villiers, JJ Engelbrecht, Bryan Habana, Francois Hougaard, Elton Jantjies, Zane Kirchner, Patrick Lambie , Lwazi Mvovo, Wynand Olivier, Ruan Pienaar, JP Pietersen, Frans Steyn, Morné Steyn, Jano Vermaak.
Six Players to train with Squad, but not eligible for selection:
Siya Kolisi, Arno Botha, CJ Stander, Francois venter, Piet Van Zyl, Frans Malherbe
What do you make of the Springbok squad to take on England?
Were Juan de Jongh, Gio Aplon and Heinrich Brussow unlucky?