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Bok reward in Final victory

Fri, 25 Oct 2013 07:58
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You can enhance your chances
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The big debate may again revolve around the number of European and Japan-based players getting call-ups, but there is another group who could squeeze in through the back door.

The Springbok squad for the year-end tour will be announced on Monday. The squad will then assemble in Johannesburg next Thursday, and will depart for Europe next Saturday, November 2.

They face Wales (November 9), Scotland (November 17) and France (November 23).

And while some will chew over the foreign quota issue (or rather lack of it), others will wrestle with the equally weighty issue of experimentation - how many new faces could there be and which 'tired' players need to be rested.

Of course there are also a few old hands returning from lengthy lay-offs - most notably Schalk Burger and Frans Steyn, who will both feature in the Currie Cup Final.

That brings us to the key question: How much weight will be attached to players starring in Saturday's grand finale between Western Province and the Sharks?

WP coach Allister Coetzee feels the Final could the perfect vehicle for players wishing to stake a claim to a spot in the touring squad.

"Injuries will always be part of this game," Coetzee said, adding: "You can enhance your chances if you play well."

He admitted that when you play well as a team, then the individuals stand out as well.

"Our [Province's] focus is to do well as a team," the WP mentor said.

"It is a fact that if you win the Currie Cup you get the rub of the green in terms of selections in Springbok sides and touring teams - we have the Springbok captain in our midst.

"However, it is important for us to stay focussed on our job and not on anything else [sideshows]."

WP captain Deon Fourie, one of the players said to be on the fringe of Bok selection, played down Bok selection as an issue.

"The guys are motivated to win the [Currie] Cup," Fourie said, adding: "We are not talking about the end-of-year tour.

"It [winning the Currie Cup] is a massive goal for everyone playing in the first home Final after 12 years - that is the goal for us and the guys are focussed on that.

"What happens after that is a bonus."

There would be quite a few on Saturday hoping for a 'bonus'.

Western Province have Gio Aplon, who - even at 31 - is hoping to add to his 17 Tests, the last of those having been on June 23 last year, against England in Port Elizabeth.

Cheslin Kolbe is one for the future, but won't look out of place in a Bok squad. Demetri Catrakilis trained with the Boks earlier this year and has done nothing that would have removed him from the fringes of selection. Louis Schreuder is another who has trained with the Boks and must hope for a cap in the not too distant future. Pat Cilliers has been there and done that, he won't disgrace the national team either.

However, Province captain Deon Fourie is one player who has consistently put his hand up - no he has jumped up and down, screaming at the top of his lungs that he wouldn't mind a look-in.

Of course Schalk Burger is the other big poser. Is his 20-minute cameos off the bench in the last few weeks, after 18 months on the sidelines, enough to secure him a re-call?

The Sharks' biggest name returning from injury is World Cup-winning midfielder Francois Steyn. To us a well-versed cliché: 'We know what we have in him!' However, is he fit enough?

Patrick Lambie has been making enough noise about reclaiming the No.10 jersey he wore with such pride on the 2012 year-end tour. His slide in form in the first half of the year's has been well and truly arrested.

Will Keegan Daniel ever get another look-in?

Willem Alberts, Marcell Coetzee, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Jannie du Plessis, Bismarck du Plessis and Tendai Mtawarira can pack their bags - unless of course some of them are put in the 'need to rest' category.

The other question is, how many of the overseas-based Boks will feature and will there be any additions to this list?

It is well-publicised that Japan-based Jaque Fourie has regained his appetite for the Green and Gold.

Japan-based JP Pietersen is also available for the year-end tour.

There are Fourie du Preez, Bryan Habana, Zane Kirchner, Juandré Kruger, Francois Louw, Ruan Pienaar, , Chiliboy Ralepelle, Gurthrö Steenkamp, Morné Steyn and Jano Vermaak - all who featured in the Rugby Championship squad.

Then there is a player like Johan Goosen, who also made a dramatic return to the playing field in the latter stages of the Currie Cup competition. Has he impressed enough to warrant a re-call?

Tour itinerary:
Saturday, November 9: v Wales, Millennium Stadium, Cardiff - Kick-off: 17.30 (19.30 SA time)
Sunday, November 17: v Scotland, Murrayfield, Edinburgh - Kick-off: 15.00 (17.00 SA time)
Saturday, November 23: v France, Stade de France, Paris - Kick-off: 20.00 (22.00 SA time)

By Jan de Koning

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