Combrinck needs to prove himself again
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Springbok head coach Allister Coetzee believes Ruan Combrinck has not played enough rugby to warrant selection for the Springboks this year.
The Springboks have been poor in the back three department in the Rugby Championship where Andries Coetzee, Courtnall Skosan, and Raymond Rhule have struggled to impose themselves.
Rhule bore the brunt of the criticism so far after his woeful performance against the All Blacks in the 0-57 loss in Albany, where he missed a staggering number of tackles out wide.
Combrinck, who is currently in Japan, is seen as a solution by many to bolster the back three.
However, the 27-year-old, who also missed a large chunk of the Lions' Super Rugby season because of injury, was once again left out of the Bok squad for the final two matches of this year's Rugby Championship.
"What I've looked at since the start of this year is players showing form - good form," Coetzee told reporters in Bloemfontein on Monday.
"That was one of the big criteria that I've used and at this point in time after Super Rugby, Ruan hasn't played any rugby for the [Japanese side] Kintetsu Liners. He has been there for three games and he hasn't started any game, so it makes it difficult and I burnt my fingers last year when we had players coming from France for the inbound series and we spoke about their conditioning and we spoke about their fitness level.
"We are at a crucial stage of our campaign at this point in time. Maybe not in the race to win it [Rugby Championship], but we still have two important games to finish second and important home games to end well."
Coetzee added: "If the player doesn't play how do we expect the player to perform coming from that and I coached in Japan myself - to make that step up from club rugby to national level.
"There is one thing of understanding and knowing how a player played a year ago and six months ago or three months ago and the condition the player is at present and I'm following all our players playing abroad very closely because I learned that lesson last year."
Despite Combrink's absence, Coetzee said the wing could still fight his way back into contention if he performs consistently.
“Ruan could possibly be part of the plans if he performs and plays well and I got feedback and not be guessing.
"The reality is players based overseas cannot play the last game against Wales for us because that is outside of the season, but yes he [Combrinck] is still part of the plans going forward.
With Combrick being left out of the squad, Coetzee was again made to defend Handre Pollard's inclusion in the squad as the flyhalf also had limited game time this year.
"The difference is that I obviously I got Handre with the coaches in our coaching team, training here with us, putting in extra sessions with us and he is up to speed with our technical ability and game plan and where this team wants to go.
"This is the first time this year that we have this group together for six to seven Test matches and continuity is an important thing.
"It does play a part as well in terms of what we gone through. We had a substandard game, we not proud of the last game, but we've put that behind us now. We've buried the Albany game and we are busy with the turnaround strategy."
By Warren Fortune, in Bloemfontein