Home-based fetchers best for Boks
Home-based fetchers best for BoksSHARE
There will be a sideshow in Durban on Saturday that could be just as intriguing as the main feature.
When the table-topping Sharks host the Cheetahs in a Super Rugby Round 10 match at Kings Park, the openside showdown between Springboks Marcell Coetzee and Heinrich Brussow will be worthy of any entry fee.
It is a contest, within a contest, that could go a long way towards proving that South Africa does not only have to look abroad for world class fetchers.
Bath-based Francois Louw may have become the first choice for Bok coach Heyneke Meyer in the national team's No.6 jersey, but Sharks Director of Rugby Jake White believes the home-based boys are just as worthy of fetching for their country.
The 28-year-old Louw has played 18 of his 28 Tests since Meyer took over as Bok coach, 11 of those last year – despite taking a backseat to a much younger Coetzee in the initial stages of Meyer's tenure.
Coetzee, 22, who made his debut against England in 2012, has played 15 Tests – having starting ahead of Louw in 2012. However, he played just three Tests in 2013.
Brüssow, 27, has not featured for the Boks since Meyer took over – the last of his 20 Tests having been in the 2011 World Cup quarterfinal loss to Australia.
The Sharks boss, who was full of praise for Brüssow, felt Meyer could learn a lot by watching Saturday's Kings Park encounter.
"He's a great player, he's played really well for them," White said, when asked about the Cheetahs openside flank – who will make his first Super Rugby appearance of the year, after fracturing a toe in January while on duty with his Japanese club.
"They will get a lot of confidence out of him being back," the Sharks boss said about Brüssow.
However, he is obviously backing his own fetcher, Coetzee, to get the jump on in the race for the Bok No.6 jersey.
White said he hasn't done anything to Coetzee's game and that the young flank has moulded himself into a more effective fetcher – after starting out a more allround flank, which leaned almost towards a blindside type ball carrier.
"More and more his play sends the right message to the national selectors, that they don't need to look abroad to pick a guy who can do that job," White told a media briefing.
"You have a player [Coetzee] doing the job week in and week out in Super Rigby.
"I would be very surprised if, going forward, he doesn't gets seen as the guy who can fulfil that role over anyone they've picked from outside."
White said he was taking nothing away from those players, like Louw, who have been picked before.
"However, a guy who is putting his hand up week in and week out the way that he is makes it difficult to overlook his performances."