AUDIO: Is Coetzee leaning towards 'clever' players?
IN THE YEAR-END SPOTLIGHT: Coach Allister Coetzee is faced with a midfield conundrum this week, ahead of the Test against Ireland.
The departure of Jan Serfontein to Montpellier means there is a vacancy in the inside centre position and Coetzee has indicated that brains, not brawn, will be a priority for the candidate to replace 24-year-old Serfontein.
The candidates are Sharks midfielder Lukhanyo Am, Western Province centre Damian de Allende and the Cheetahs Francois Venter'.
Bulls utility Jesse Kriel looks set to have cemented his spot as the Bok outside centre.
Coetzee openly admitted that playmaking is a key requirement for the new Bok No.12.
"Lukhanyo Am was always part of the plan," Coetzee said, adding: "He was selected for the French series in June, [but] unfortunately he fractured his cheekbone."
Coetzee described Am as a "clever defender" and a "great communicator".
"He has the ability to steal and turn over ball on the ground.
"He is quite a clever player and makes good decisions."
Coetzee said the fact that the Sharks used Am at No.12 in the latter stages of the Currie Cup competition is an added bonus.
"He can be straight and direct," the coach said, adding: "You don't move a player from No.13 to No.12, unless he is a distributor.
"He can be a strike-runner, but can also be a distributor and a decision-maker - those are very important skills to have."
Coetzee said the French-based Serfontein made the No.12 Bok jersey his own and played well in his nine Test appearances.
He spoke about the confidence that comes with regular appearances and game time.
"Unfortunately Damian [de Allende] didn't get a lot of time out on the field.
"We have a guy like Francois Venter in the mix as well. He has played with a lot of confidence as well, for the Cheetahs.
"He [Venter] is similar to Lukhanyo [Am], being able to play No.12 and No.13.
"I know Damian is a quality player and he has proven that - he just needs to be backed and will gain confidence.
"Jan is a special player, but the others can do the job for us."
Coetzee made it clear that Handré Pollard will not be considered for the inside centre position and will compete with Elton Jantjies or the starting flyhalf berth.
"He [Pollard] has had enough time in training at No.10 and he grew in terms of calling the shots and managing the team.
"He has the goal-kicking to contend with as well."