Allister Coetzee deserves a pat on the back after his first Springbok squad announcement this weekend.
Not only did Coetzee reward domestic form when selecting his 31-man squad, but the Bok coach also sent out a strong message to guys playing overseas with only three – Duane Vermeulen, Francois Louw and Steven Kitshoff – being selected.
You can understand all of those selections, Vermeulen and Louw bring some much-needed experience to the squad, while South African rugby can’t afford to allow Kitshoff the opportunity of possibly playing for France in years to come.
Rewarding faithful players who stay in the country brings a sort of unity in its own.
It’s the composition of his squad as a whole that I really like.
He’s got the mavericks – Faf de Klerk, Willie le Roux, Garth April, etc. but Coetzee also made provision for the times when they need to “control” the game.
And this is why players such as Nic Groom and Jan Serfontein got the call-up, or so you would imagine.
Pat Lambie, too, can play both games, meaning Coetzee has set his team up so that he can swap between game plans easily.
There weren’t too many detractors after the announcement.
And those players who feel they might have been left out unfairly, will get their shot to prove this while playing for the SA “A” team against the England Saxons.
Stormers youngster Leolin Zas, still only 20, is one of these players I personally would like to take a close look at.
Zas has been impressive for the Stormers this year and with Coetzee displaying bravery to reward form, I’d like to think that it’s just a matter of time before the youngster cracks the nod.
His domestic teammate Nizaam Carr is another with a point to prove.
Back to the main squad and the massive issue of the captaincy.
Vermeulen, Louw, Adriaan Strauss and Warren Whiteley are the obvious leaders in the team.
Then you’ve also got Stormers co-captain Frans Malherbe and Sharks captain Pat Lambie, although I don’t quite think they have what it takes to lead the country into battle.
I also don’t see how a player that is based overseas can lead the national team, which leaves only Whiteley and Strauss.
The latter is probably a better option for now, seeing that Vermeulen and Whiteley will still battle for the No.8 jersey.
Coetzee, though, will have to select his leader shortly and he will have to select someone that will still be the number one choice in his position by 2019.
And that might prove to be the stumbling block…