Who will be the new Springbok rugby coach ?

It would seem there is no chance of the South African Rugby Union (Saru) making an impetuous appointment of the new Springbok coach and there are gathering reports that the governing body will go so far as to make an interim appointment until they have found the right man to take the Boks to the next World Cup.

Rassie Erasmus, the enigmatic former Cheetahs coach and current Saru High Performance General Manager, is hotly tipped to fulfill a caretaker role for the June series against touring Ireland.

Saru are tight-lipped on the conjecture and have said that while the matter of Springbok coach is on the agenda for their Council meeting in March, there will be “no comment on the Springbok coaching position until there is an appointment,” a Saru spokesman said yesterday.

The shortlist of candidates for the job is, to be facetious, rather short, and it might well have shortened even further if news out of Japan is to be believed regarding Allister Coetzee, who for so long has been the front-runner for the position vacated by Heyneke Meyer.

The former Stormers coach has been reported as saying he would “definitely be returning to the Kobe Kobelco Steelers next year”, although this could also be taken with a pinch of salt. If Coetzee is offered the Bok coach job, he could do an “Eddie Jones” and take advantage of an inevitable out clause in his contract with the Steelers regarding an offer to coach an international team.

Coetzee in white T Shirt -with OTC team on Heart 104.9fm..airs every Saturday from 9-10am

Another name bandied about is that of John Plumtree, the former Sharks coach and former Ireland assistant coach who is now second-in-charge at the Hurricanes, last year’s beaten Super Rugby finalists.

Plumtree has always said that he wanted to end his coaching days in Wellington, the New Zealand capital city that he often referred to as “home.” It would take a lot to lure him away from Wellington but Plumtree some time ago also told The Mercury that the Springbok coaching position would appeal to him.

Erasmus, meanwhile, has often stated that he does not want to return to the spotlight of a high-profile coaching job. But as a Saru employee, he might well be coerced into an interim Bok coach role for a three-Test home series.

Saru, it has to be said, are to be commended for not rushing into an appointment. Bok supporters want a winning team and it is imperative that Saru get it right. Time is on their side. Rugby World Cup Japan is just under four years away.

By Mike Greenaway

Bryan Habana to become Springbok Centurion No 4 against Australia on Sat

Bryan Habana will on Saturday become the fourth Springbok and 33rd player overall to play in 100 Tests when South Africa take on Australia in the third round of the Castle Lager Rugby Championship at Patersons Stadium in Perth (kickoff 12h05 SA time).

The 31-year-old Habana, who made his debut for South Africa against England at Twickenham on 20 November 2004, holds the record for the most Test tries in a Springbok jersey. His 56 Test tries places him fourth on the list of all-time international try scorers.

The three-time South African Rugby Player of the Year (2004, 2007 and 2012), who was also named the IRB Rugby Player of the Year in 2007, will lead the Springboks out on Saturday as he follows Percy Montgomery, John Smit and Victor Matfield in amassing 100 Tests in the green and gold.

“This is an unbelievable achievement by Bryan, who is someone every South African can be immensely proud of,” said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.

“Bryan is a true professional and someone who never gives anything but his best, on the field and off it. For him to reach this magnificent milestone is just reward for years of dedication and hard work.

“Apart from scoring tries and always giving 100% on the field, Bryan is also a humble servant to the game and a true ambassador for his family, his friends and his country. He will go down in history as one of the greatest rugby players of all time.

“He is always looking for improvement – I’ve never seen him play a bad game in the Springbok jersey.”

In total, the starting line-up shows six changes from the team which beat Argentina in Salta recently. Jan Serfontein and Morne Steyn will start in the backline, while Marcell Coetzee, Victor Matfield, Adriaan Strauss and Tendai Mtawarira have been included in the pack.

As a result of these changes, Bismarck du Plessis, Lood de Jager and Damian de Allende shift to the bench, while Trevor Nyakane, Marcel van der Merwe and Pat Lambie will join the uncapped Warren Whiteley on the bench.

“We were always planning in moving our personnel around during the competition,” said Meyer.

“The only new player in the team is Warren, whom I’m very happy for and excited to see what he can do. He covers all three positions in the loose trio and can make an impact later in the game.

“It’s also good to see Pat back in the frame. He’s completed his comeback from a long-term injury and will provide necessary bench cover for flyhalf and fullback.

“Saturday’s Test against Australia will take a massive effort from every member of our squad. We’re not looking at their recent result against New Zealand and we know they will be a tough opponent.

“Similarly, we need to move on from our victories over Argentina, which are now in the past. This is a new challenge and one we have to overcome to stay alive in the competition.”

The Springbok team to face Australia in Perth is:

Position Name Test Caps Test points
15 Willie le Roux 17 35
14 Cornal Hendricks 5 15
13 Jan Serfontein 12 5
12 Jean de Villiers (captain) 98 125
11 Bryan Habana 99 280
10 Morné Steyn 58 670
9 Ruan Pienaar 78 135
8 Duane Vermeulen 21 10
7 Marcell Coetzee 18 20
6 Francois Louw 32 25
5 Victor Matfield (vice-captain) 113 35
4 Eben Etzebeth 25 0
3 Jannie du Plessis 56 5
2 Adriaan Strauss 36 25
1 Tendai Mtawarira 57 10
16 Bismarck du Plessis 62 45
17 Trevor Nyakane 5 5
18 Marcel van der Merwe 1 0
19 Lood de Jager 5 10
20 Warren Whiteley 0 0
21 Francois Hougaard 29 20
22 Pat Lambie 32 68
23 Damian de Allende 2 0

Stats and facts:

· The Springbok starting team boasts a total of 725 Test caps (358 in the backline and 367 in the forwards), while there a further 136 caps worth of experience on the bench.

· South Africa and Australia have played each other 78 times since 1933, with the Springboks winning 44 Tests, losing 33 and one was drawn. The Springboks have scored 1,501 points and 179 tries and conceded 1,357 points and 139 tries for an average score of 19-17.

· South Africa and Australia last met on 28 September 2013 at DHL Newlands in Cape Town, when the Springboks won 28-8.

· Bryan Habana will be playing in his 100th Test for South Africa, making him only the fourth Springbok in history to reach this milestone. The others are Victor Matfield (113), John Smit (111) and Percy Montgomery (102).

· Habana will also extend his record as the most-capped Springbok wing, with 98 Tests in this position and if he scores a try, will extend his record of 56 Test tries for South Africa as well as his Castle Lager Rugby Championship record of 18 tries and will extend his own SA record of nine career tries against Australia.

· Jean de Villiers will extend his record as the most-capped Springbok centre, with 83 Tests in this position. He will also extend his own SA record of 46 Rugby Championship games and will captain South Africa for the 27th time – fourth behind John Smit (83), Gary Teichmann (36) and Francois Pienaar (29).

· Victor Matfield will extend his own record as the most capped Springbok in history (113 Tests). He will also be playing against Australia for the 25th time to become the sole holder of the record he shared with John Smit previously.

· Morné Steyn will extend his record as the most-capped Springbok flyhalf, with 56 Tests in this position. If he scores a try, he will also extend his record of eight Test tries as a flyhalf for South Africa. Steyn scored 137 points in his career against Australia, just three points short of Percy Montgomery’s record of 140 points. He will also extend his own career record for most conversions (16), most penalty goals (32) and most drop goals (3) against Australia.

· If he goes on and scores a try, Bismarck du Plessis will extend his own record of eight test tries for South Africa as a hooker.

· If he goes on Warren Whiteley will become Springbok No. 863.

· The referee is George Clancy of Ireland and this will be his ninth Test involving South Africa. In the previous eight South Africa have won six and lost two. His last Test was on 7 September 2013 in the corresponding game of last year’s tournament at the Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane when the Springboks beat the Wallabies 38-12.

· Springbok Test match records at Paterson Stadium, Perth (previously known as Subiaco Oval):

o Most points – 15 by Joost van der Westhuizen (3t) against Uruguay on 11 October 2003.

o Most tries – three by Joost van der Westhuizen against Uruguay on 11 October 2003.

o Most conversions – five by Louis Koen against Uruguay on 11 October 2003.

o Most penalty goals – three by Percy Montgomery against Australia on 18 July 1998; by Braam van Straaten against Australia on 18 August 2001; by Percy Montgomery against Australia on 31 July 2004 and by Percy Montgomery against Australia on 20 August, 2005.

o Most drop goals – one by Percy Montgomery against Australia on 20 August 2005.

o This will be the Springboks’ 10th Test overall at Patersons Stadium in Perth since 1998. In the previous nine, South Africa have won four, lost four and one was drawn. The Springboks have scored 214 points (24 tries) with 174 points against (16 tries). It is a winning percentage of 44% and an average score of 24-19.

Issued by SARU Corporate Affairs

The last time the Boks won a Test match in Brisbane, Morne du Plessis was making his debut at the age of 21

The last time the Springboks won a Test match in Brisbane, Morne du Plessis was making his debut at the age of 21, Hannes Marais of Eastern Province was the captain, legend Frik du Preez was 35 and playing his 36th test at lock and the halfback pairing was the Griquas pair of Joggie Viljoen and Piet Visagie.

It was the year 1971, and it has been the Boks’ ultimate bogey ground ever since. It is true that they did not play much in the Queensland capital until rugby went professional in 1996, but they have been fairly frequent visitors since then to the ground that is now known as the Suncorp Stadium (previously Lang park), and even the best Bok teams in the readmission area have failed at a ground that the Wallabies treasure as a strong hold, as is the case with the Boks at Ellis Park, where even the All Blacks have struggled to win.

Even when the Boks were at their peak under John Smit, in 2009, when they easily won the Tri-Nations, the match that prevented them from a clean sweep was the fixture in Brisbane.

They beat the All Blacks three times that year after having earlier won a series against the British and Irish Lions, and that campaign they had a convincing win in Perth, but the following week twere out played by a Wallabies team that had been struggling. The next week, the Boks went to Hamilton and were convincing winners against the All Blacks.

Since 1996, the Boks have won only three times in Australia, with all the victories coming in Perth, a city where rugby union comes a distant third to Aussie Rules and Rugby League, and while not quite an away game for the Wallabies it is certainly a more comfortable visit for the Boks given the massive ex-pat population in the Western Australian capital.

So what are the chances of the 2013 Boks triumphing in Brisbane when so many of their predecessors have failed?

Only the best Bok sides have won away from home in Australia and New Zealand. They have been special sides that went onto win South Africa’s three Tri-Nations titles.

Is this side under Jean de Villiers special? Not by a long shot. They may still build to be a very competitive side by the World Cup in 2015, but right now there are more questions than answers, and if they were to beat a desperate Wallabies team at their favoured ground on Saturday, it would be one of the Boks’ more famous victories.

The South Africans did not have the best start to the week because of the late arrivals of five players from weekend duty with their clubs in France.

That is crazy stuff and a result of the controversial game SARU are playing by allowing foreign-based players to be eligible for the Boks.

The likes of Bryan Habana and Morne Steyn went from playing Argentina in Mendoza to club rugby duty in France, to Brisbane to belatedly start preparations for a match at a venue where the Boks never win.

This should not be allowed to happen again. Heyneke Meyer has not said much publicly on the matter but privately he will be frustrated that a third of his team was in France on the one weekend when the Boks had a chance to rest before their Australasian leg.

And the Wallabies are hardly going to be in complacent mood. They have lost three Tests in a row, starting with the third Test against the Lions, and then two in a row under new coach Ewen Mackenzie, both against the All Blacks in the start to the Rugby Championship.

They are desperate, the Boks have still to prove they are beyond the ordinary. The smart money is certainly going to be on the locals.

by Mike Greenaway

Rugby Championship 2013 -My take on things

Well it all starts on Saturday in Sydney -All Blacks vs Australia . and then latter that day Boks vs Argentina

The simple point to make is the Boks will always have a Steyn or Van Der Merwe to be competitive ,but to win the 2013 competition they have no chance.

Forget the waffle one hears on Supersport ,this Bok team is average at best .What are you saying by bringing back Fourie Du Preez and Pienaar at 9 for the Boks is a one trick pony.

The Boks will loose both the tour matches one in Brisbane and the other at Eden Park against the All Blacks , but to be fair not many teams do win at fortress Eden Park.

So where does it leave the Boks? -3rd at best and mind you they could trip up at Newlands -A Steyn penalty in the dying minutes saved them last time out against Australia and by the time the Boks play the All Blacks on 6 Oct at Ellis Park it could be all over by then .

All Blacks champs again for 2013 ?

The last time Italy played a Test match in Durban they lost 101-0

The last time Italy played a Test match in Durban they lost 101-0 on a day when Stefan Terblanche scored five tries on the wing, and indeed the average result in the 10 matches to date between the countries has been 55-13 to the Boks, but anybody who is expecting Italy to roll over at Kings Park tomorrow is sorely mistaken.

The Azzurri have come a long way in recent years thanks to their exposure in Six Nations rugby and a few months back they beat France and Ireland, and Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer was in the stands at Twickenham when England were given the fright of their lives before defeating the Italians by seven points.

That said, the Boks are obviously expected to win and it is a question of how much, with respect to Italy. The chances of an upset of the century would be that much higher if this game was played in Rome, but it is Kings Park and the Italians are surely a touch fatigued now that the marathon Northern Hemisphere season is winding up.

They have their share of world class players, notably talismanic captain Sergio Parisse, and the opportunity to watch this truly world class player is alone worth turning up or tuning in. But the man that the TV cameras love, the stocky, hirsute and bearded battler that is Martin Castrogiovanni, has been restricted to a role off the bench because he picked up a niggle playing for the Barbarians against the British and Irish Lions in Hong Kong last week.

His opposite number, Beast Mtawarira, might secretly be pleased.

We all know about how well Castrogiovanni and company scrum, it is their trademark, and like the Boks they are no slouches at the driving maul, but it is their improved attack under new coach Jacques Brunel, that has most impressed Heyneke Meyer.

“They carried the ball more times than any other team in the Six Nations,” the Bok coach said. “I am not trying to do a PR job on them when I tell you that they almost beat England in London by keeping the ball.”

This is a reflection on the change of tack from Brunel. His predecessor, Nick Mallett, who once employed Meyer as his Bok forwards coach, funnily enough, had Italy playing a conservative game that was probably about keeping the score down. It was not about expression, but Brunel has induced the old Italian fire in his charges and a team that beat 2011 World Cup finalists France has to be keenly respected. And Ireland are hardly pushovers either.

Yesterday, Italy’s Australian-born winger, Luke Mclean, was a popular target at the Italians’ team announcement given his obvious ability to speak English, and he calmly said that Italy were confident that they would win. True story.

“We are not here on holiday,” the Brisbane product said. “We are here to beat the Springboks. We will have to put our best foot forward from one to 23, but we know that on our day we can step up and play against the best teams in the world. We have to go out and be confident. If you go out expecting to lose, there is only going to be one result, and we are confident that we can get the result we want. We have beaten two of the best teams in the world this year and believe that if we go out there and play our own style of rugby, and back ourselves to compete over the whole 80 minutes, we can win this one.”

Good on cobber McLean. Spoken with true digger spirit, but do they really believe they can win? It would appear so.

“You must understand that this is no ordinary end of season tour for us,” Mclean said. “Fatigue is not a question. We consider playing against the Boks an honour and it is something we would never take for granted. We have three games in this quadrangular competition to finish of what has been a good season for us. We don’t want to render what we did in the Six Nations a waste of time.

“We are pitching up to play and win, not to make up the numbers,” Mclean concluded with sincerity.

But the Boks know this. Meyer is no fool and he will have been talking up the opposition all week to his players. And the coach knows that the reality is that a correctly focussed Springbok team should never, ever lose at home to Italy.

Referee: John Lacey (Ireland)

Kick-off: 5.15pm.

South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Bryan Habana, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Jean de Villiers (capt), 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Juandré Kruger, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.

Substitutes: Chiliboy Ralepelle, Trevor Nyakane, Coenie Oosthuizen, Flip van der Merwe, Arno Botha, Ruan Pienaar, Pat Lambie, Jan Serfontein.

Italy : 15 Andrea Masi, 14 Giovanbattista Venditti, 13 Luca Morisi, 12 Alberto Sgarbi, 11 Luke McLean, 10 Alberto di Bernardo, 9 Edoardo Gori, 8 Sergio Parisse (capt), 7 Robert Barbieri, 6 Alessandro Zanni, 5 Marco Bortolami, 4 Antonio Pavanello, 3 Lorenzo Cittadini, 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 1 Alberto de Marchi.

Substitutes: Davide Giazzon, Matias Aguero, Martin Castrogiovanni, Valerio Bernabo, Joshua Furno, Tobias Botes, Luciano Orquera, Tommaso Iannone.

by Mike Greenaway

The Springbok team to face England in Port Elizabeth is:

Pierre Spies will play in his 50th Test for South Africa when they take on England at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.

Spies was included in a starting 15 that shows three changes from the one that beat England in the second Test of the Castle Incoming Tour. Willem Alberts (flank) and Pat Lambie (fullback) were not declared fit for the Test.

Jacques Potgieter will make his Springbok debut at flank in the place of Alberts, Gio Aplon has been selected at fullback for Lambie and Wynand Olivier comes in at inside centre for Frans Steyn, who is getting married.

There are two changes on the bench. Flyhalf Elton Jantjies has been selected in a Test squad for the first time and will earn his Bok debut if he gets game time, while Ryan Kankowski takes over from Keegan Daniel.

“Injuries have forced us to make a number of changes, which is never ideal, but this provides an opportunity for players like Gio, Wynand and Jacques to put up their hands,” said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.

“Gio is our third fullback of the series, but he’s experienced and has been part of our planning. Wynand came on as a replacement in both of the first two Tests and knows our game plan, while Jacques has impressed this year as a very strong ball carrier – hopefully he can continue with the good work Willem has done in the last fortnight.”

Meyer explained the changes on the bench as follows: “Jacques has not played for a while and we felt Ryan is the right option for this game if he needs to take over from Jacques, with his explosive running. Keegan did very well in the first two Tests, but for this match we felt that Ryan is a better option.

“Elton comes in to provide cover at flyhalf and is a very good goal kicking option, something we will miss with Frans not available.

“Bjorn Basson still covers all three positions in the back trio, JP Pietersen or Bryan Habana can play outside centre and Jean will move to inside centre if needed, so we are covered in all positions in the backline.”

The starting 15 boast a combined total of 464 Test caps – 299 for the backs and 165 for the forwards.

The Springbok team to face England in Port Elizabeth is:

Position Name Province Test Caps
15 Gio Aplon DHL Western Province 16
14 JP Pietersen The Sharks 44
13 Jean de Villiers (captain) DHL Western Province 74
12 Wynand Olivier Vodacom Blue Bulls 36
11 Bryan Habana DHL Western Province 76
10 Morné Steyn Vodacom Blue Bulls 36
9 Francois Hougaard Vodacom Blue Bulls 17
8 Pierre Spies Vodacom Blue Bulls 49
7 Jacques Potgieter Vodacom Blue Bulls 0
6 Marcell Coetzee The Sharks 2
5 Juandré Kruger Vodacom Blue Bulls 2
4 Eben Etzebeth DHL Western Province 2
3 Jannie du Plessis The Sharks 32
2 Bismarck du Plessis (vice-captain) The Sharks 44
1 Tendai Mtawarira The Sharks 34
16 Adriaan Strauss Toyota FS Cheetahs 11
17 Werner Kruger Vodacom Blue Bulls 3
18 Flip van der Merwe Vodacom Blue Bulls 13
19 Ryan Kankowski The Sharks 19
20 Ruan Pienaar Ulster, Ireland 53
21 Elton Jantjies MTN Golden Lions 0
22 Bjorn Basson Vodacom Blue Bulls 6

Record watch

· The Springboks have won the last nine consecutive Tests against England. This is a new record for South Africa against England. New Zealand is the only other country that had nine consecutive wins against England.

Jean de Villiers named Springbok captain

Jean de Villiers will become the 54th Springbok captain after he was named to lead the Boks in the Castle Incoming Tour against England, which starts on Saturday.

The announcement was made on Monday in Durban, where the Springboks are preparing to face England at Mr Price Kings Park this weekend, in the first of three Tests.

The 31-year-old De Villiers, who was named the South African Rugby Player of the Year in 2008, has played in 72 Tests for the Boks. He made his debut in 2002 against France and is the second most experienced member of the current Springbok squad, with two fewer caps than Bryan Habana.

De Villiers is also the 10th most-capped Springbok of all time and only the fourth Springbok Test captain since 2003. John Smit, Victor Matfield and Johann Muller have led the Boks during this time.

“Jean’s leadership qualities are well established and he has always impressed me with his leadership on and off the field,” said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.

“I’ve also been impressed by the way he’s led a young and inexperienced DHL Stormers team in Vodacom Super Rugby this year.

“Jean commands respect from everyone in South African rugby and in the short space of time we’ve worked together, Jean has shown that he understands what we want to achieve on the field. He will be surrounded by a core of strong leaders in the squad and we have the utmost faith in them.”

De Villiers said he was humbled by the trust that was placed in him by Meyer and the Springbok management.

“My heart was in my throat when Heyneke told me about his decision on Sunday evening,” said De Villiers.

“This is an honour that is not bestowed upon many people and I really hope I can do my country proud. I do realise there is massive responsibility that comes with this position. The real, hard work only starts now.”

The Springbok captaincy will be reviewed before the start of the Castle Rugby Championship.

Jean de Villiers – Brief biography:

Height: 1.90m

Weight: 100kg

Date of birth: 24 February 1981 in Paarl

Club: University of Stellenbosch

Provincial Union: DHL Western Province

Test debut: 9 November 2002 against France in Marseille

Test caps: 72

Test points: 95 (19 tries)

Representative teams: SA Schools (1999), SA U19 (2000), SA U21 (2001-2002), Springbok Sevens (2002).

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