Why Boks need Lions' spine

Thu, 08 Jun 2017 18:44

REACTION: Allister Coetzee feels using the Lions to make up the 'spine' of the Springbok team, gives the side a "good synergy".

Speaking after naming the team for the first Test between South Africa and France, at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Saturday, Coetzee explained why he named seven Lions in the starting XV.

Coetzee included the uncapped quartet of Andries Coetzee, Raymond Rhule, Courtnall Skosan and Ross Cronje.
 
No.8 Warren Whiteley will become the 58th Springbok captain when he leads the Boks onto the field on Saturday and Cronje will become South Africa's 50th Test scrumhalf on Saturday.

And, as predicted by rugby365 earlier this week, the entire spine of the Bok team consists of Lions.

There are fullback Coetzee, flyhalf Elton Jantjies, scrumhalf Cronje, No.8 and captain Whiteley, one of the locks Franco Mostert and hooker Malcolm Marx.

The seventh Lion is wing Courtnall Skosan.

Coetzee spoke of tight calls and a "tough" selection process.

He also admitted that some if the selections were based on experience.

"I have to make sure there is a balance between experience and [form]," he said, adding: "Where I had to add experience is with [prop] Frans Malherbe. He has been scrumming particularly well throughout the season.

"People might say that Ruan Dreyer and Malcolm Marx played together for the Lions. However, we have a hooker starting a Test first for the first time and would have had a prop playing his first Test. We have a guy like Frans Malherbe, who has been there and understands what happens at Test match level.

"Where I could add some experience I did that."

Asked about the decision to go with eight Lions players in starting XV and also the spine of the tem, Coetzee said he looked at "really good decision-makers".

"If you look at the back field, in open play situations, there is Courtnall Skosan, who understand Warren Whiteley, about when to go back, or an Andries Coetzee and Elton Jantjies.

"So there is already a combination there.

"That [the backline] is more important than combinations in the set pieces for me.

"The mere fact that they have ben playing together for the last two seasons, [means] there would be a good understandings."

Coetzee said it was great have the spine of the Bok team coming from one Super Rugby franchise.

"That is where you need to have calm heads, need guys who understand their roles and responsibilities.

"They will be the most important guy in terms of taking responsibility when  it gets tough.

"It is not going to be an easy Test - it is going to be  massive Test.

"Warren would rely on those decision makers, the spine. He will also rely on the other leaders in the team.

"However, I feel we have a good synergy in the team."

By Jan de Koning, from Pretoria
@king365ed
@rugby365com