Who will be the Bok bolter?
With the selection of the Springbok side on Saturday, where are the surprises going to come from? Nick Tatham reports.
With the selection of the Springbok side to take on Scotland, Italy and probably Samoa being announced on Saturday, where are the surprises going to come from?
After setting up two training camps during this first stage of the Super Rugby competition the public have got a general feel of where Meyer is going with his selection as the make-up of the side has not changed too much.
During the first camp there were very few interesting call-ups, with the likes of the sturdy Pieter-Steph Du Toit being called up along with Cheetahs centre Robert Ebersohn. Du Toit has been involved with the Boks, but in a very limited capacity, in one of Heyneke Meyer's larger training groups. Ebersohn was, ultimately, the only green-horn involved in the first training camp.
Meyer, it seemed, was put under pressure by a number of the Cheetahs players who proved that they were international material and produced strong performances week-in and week-out. This factor coupled with injuries led to a slight shake-up in the look of the squad when the last training squad was named.
There were eight players added to the squad for the second training camp in Durban both due to injuries as well as players hitting top form. Two players that had the public vote were Lappies Labuschagne as well as his fellow Cheetah Willie le Roux. The two have been playing consistently good rugby throughout the season and deserved a shot.
Trevor Nyakane was another player who has been solid this year and with Tendai Mtawarira just returning from injury it seemed he could be the best alternative on the loose head side of the scrum.
Currie Cup-winning flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis has kicked impeccably this season and has deserved an opportunity within the national set-up after he showed his metal and ability in the Currie Cup final last year as well as with the Southern Kings this year. He does the basics well and plays low-risk rugby which is what Meyer looks for in his flyhalf.
If we look at potential bolters for the Bok squad there are a number of options.
Pieter Labuschagne has been massive and deserves a shot but with Willem Alberts, Arno Botha and Siya Kolisi as options it will be difficult for him to get an opportunity on the blindside of the Springbok scrum.
Cheetahs centre, Robert Ebersohn, is another player who has matured a lot this season and warranted a call-up to the national squad, but with the backlog of centres he will probably be the first to be cast out after the cut.
Wiehahn Herbst has been a great understudy to Jannie du Plessis and will get his shot in the Green and Gold, but with Coenie Oosthuizen being able to cover both sides of the front row it does not seem like Herbst will get a shout.
Willie le Roux is a player that a lot of people would love to see in the Springbok squad and if selected could contradict a lot of what Heyneke Meyer looks for in an international rugby player. Le Roux is very much an instinct player with a great skills set on attack but it is on defence that he is found wanting on occasion.
What seems to emerge from the mist is two players who were influential in South Africa's Junior World Cup triumph in 2012.
Pieter-Steph Du Toit is one player that has been on everybody's lips this season and has proved that he can play at this level producing mammoth performances for the Sharks at lock or on the side of the scrum. Du Toit's physicality, line-out ability and ball carrying ability play right into Meyer's idea of a good second row forward.
The ultimate bolter - even though it is almost public knowledge - will be Jan Serfontein. The Bulls centre was named as the Player of the Tournament during the Junior World Cup last year and has impressed during his short senior career. He was withdrawn from the Junior Springbok side during the week which seems to be an indication that he is in line for a international call-up.
The matchday-22 for the first Test against Italy will probably not come as any surprise with Meyer probably erring on the side of the more conservative rather than naming a number of less experienced players.
Italy should be the strongest of the touring sides as they have not been watered down like the Scots - even though they are only missing three players.
This means that if there was a game to be more conservative in, it would be the match against the Azzurri.
By Nick Tatham