Is Whiteley the new Bok captain?

Mon, 22 May 2017 21:46

OPINION: On Tuesday Allister Coetzee will name his squad for the June Test series against France. Jan de Koning looks at some key decisions.

Top of the list is to appoint a new captain.

Veteran hooker Adriaan Strauss, who failed to inspire, has retired.

Two key aspects for a good captain is that he must command the respect of his teammates and be a certain starter - be guaranteed to play in every game.

The short-listed candidates include Lions captain Warren Whiteley, Sharks skipper Patrick Lambie, Stormers captain Siyamthanda Kolisi and Toulon's Duane Vermeulen.

Lambie, who suffered a concussion in the Round 12 loss to the Southern Kings, have not been ruled out of the June Tests.

However, there has been no indication if he will be available to face the Stormers in Durban this week. It leaves some doubt about his fitness.

Question marks have also been raised about Vermeulen, after the public outburst - when he criticised South African Rugby Union officials last year.

It leaves Whiteley and Kolisi as the front runners.

Given his personal form and impressive leadership of the Lions Whiteley seems to be the obvious candidate and the grapevine has suggested his name is the one to be pulled out the hat on Tuesday.

Coetzee, under pressure after last year's disasters - with eight defeats in 12 Tests - has a few other selection posers.

The foreign player predicament has not gone away. The 30-Test qualification for overseas-based players - to be allowed to play for the Boks - will only kick in, in July.

For the Tests against France, he has no quota. Will he make the same mistake as last year and lean too heavily on out of form veterans who are based abroad?

Another crucial selection will be flyhalf.

Lions No.10 Elton Jantjies has finally regained the form that saw him being called up last year. However, the question is whether he will be able to replicate that form under the guidance of Coetzee?

It is not a secret that Lambie is Coetzee's preferred choice. But has the Sharks pivot fully recovered from his latest bout of concussion, or will Coetzee gamble on Lambie?

Another injured flyhalf who could come into the frame is Bulls No.10 Handré Pollard - once the heir apparent for the Bok captaincy. With Pollard fitness in doubt, it leaves Jantjies as the front runner.

The dark horse is Southern Kings flyhalf Lionel Cronje.

Scrumhalf is another big poser.

With last year's regular starter, Francois de Klerk, out of favour and heading abroad, Coetzee will have to make a wise decision.

England-based Francois Hougaard is the frontrunner, according to the grapevine.

Other candidates include Ross Cronje, Rudy Paige and Shaun Venter.

There are always bolters in any Springbok team.

Tuesday we will see if Coetzee is true to form.

By Jan de Koning
@king365ed
@rugby365com