Not many surprises expected in Bok squad

Springbok coach Jake White is expected to stick mostly to the tried-and-tested when he names a 28-man squad to tour Argentina, Wales and France next month, although one shock could be in store.

The announcement is scheduled to take place shortly after the completion of the Currie Cup final between the Blue Bulls and Cheetahs at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday evening.

White will not rest any of his players after complaining earlier this season of possible fatigue, especially among leading players, and will take most of the men who did duty in the Tri-Nations on the end-of-year tour.

However, with the departure of Breyton Paulse to France to play club rugby, the door has opened for an extra inclusion, which may come in the form of Lions fullback Conrad Jantjes, who has had an outstanding Currie Cup campaign.

Paulse, though, may still be called on to be part of the squad for the match in Paris on November 26.

Jantjes, it seems, has been favoured over another form fullback in the Bulls’ Johan Roets. Several other players will feel justifiably snubbed after showing impressive form in the Currie Cup. Those include the likes of Wynand Olivier, Akona Ndungane, Morne Steyn, Willem de Waal and Wikus van Heerden.

Bolla Conradie will replace the injured Ricky Januarie, while Jaco van der Westhuyzen is also unavailable for the tour.

Apart from that, White’s squad will have a very familiar look to it, and few would argue with White and his assistants who have lifted the Boks from sixth in the world to number two.

Back-line coach Allister Coetzee would not be drawn on the possible composition of the squad, but said the selectors’ thinking is not a major secret.

“I can’t reveal the make up of the squad, but it would be fair to say we have a formula and we are pretty much sticking to it,” he said on Friday.

“Now that we are number two in the world, we have become a target for other teams who raise their game when they play us, but we must be ready to counter that.
We have met from time to time in the past few months to strategise the way forward.”

Coetzee said the mistakes the Boks made on the end-of-year tour in 2004 have been addressed and will not be made again this time round.

“Look, Wales are Six Nations champions and France are formidable at home, so it would be two great wins if we can pull it off,” Coetzee mused.

The fact that the 2007 Rugby World Cup is to be played in France is a point not lost on the astute former Eastern Province scrumhalf.

“It goes without saying that we aim to win all three, but we will not focus on Wales and France before we have dealt with Argentina who are at full strength and will be tough to crack.”

The Boks face Argentina in their opening game of the tour on November 5. The Argentinians are known for their combative style, while the Boks have never stood back for anybody. Expect fireworks.

The Boks assemble in Johannesburg on Sunday before embarking on a week-long training camp in the city. The squad departs for Buenos Aires next Sunday.—Sapa

Possible squad

Backs: Percy Montgomery, Brent Russell, Conrad Jantjes/Breyton Paulse, Bryan Habana, Jean de Villiers, De Wet Barry, Wayne Julies, Andre Pretorius, Fourie du Preez, Bolla Conradie, Jaque Fourie.

Forwards: Pedrie Wannenburg, Juan Smith, Jacques Cronje, Joe van Niekerk, Schalk Burger, Solly Tyibilika, Victor Matfield, Bakkies Botha, Danie Rossouw, Albert van den Berg, CJ van der Linde, Eddie Andrews, Os du Randt, Lawrence Sephaka, Hanyani Shimange, Gary Botha, John Smit (captain).

Fixtures

November 5: vs Argentina, Velaz Sarsfeld Stadium, Buenos Aires (kick-off: 10pm SA time)

November 19: vs Wales, Millennium Stadium, Cardiff (kick-off: 7pm SA time)

November 26: vs France, Stade de France, Paris (kick-off: 10pm SA time)

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