Frans Ludeke has surprised many by including Tiaan Snyman as second choice flyhalf in the Cats squad at the expense of Nel Fourie and Naas Olivier.
Speaking to keo.co.za, Ludeke explained the rationale behind his decision.
“It’s a very good question actually,” he admitted. “My thinking is the following: I looked at Nel Fourie’s game and made the decision that the biggest impediment to his continued development has been a lack of regular game time. I sat down with him and he expressed the wish to play more rugby this year, a fact that I understood completely.
“Therefore I made the decision to loan him to the Pumas for the Vodacom Cup. He’s still got a contract with us and we are by no means discarding him. This opportunity will allow him to play regularly, and I hope he learns and his game matures a lot in the next few months. He is by no means out of the Cats setup…he’s on the bench tomorrow and he will certainly be called upon should injury or lack of form strike either Tiaan or Andre [Pretorius].
Snyman, an immensely talented schoolboy player, struggled last season after returning from a voluntary absence from the game. In limited opportunities for the Cats in the Super 12 and in a few starts for the Lions, he did little to show evidence of fulfilled potential. Ludeke, however, believes the country has yet to see the best of the erratic 10.
“I’ve got huge confidence in Tiaan. In a game against the Leopards last year he was outstanding, and I think the constant rotation with Nel didn’t help either settle into any kind of form. The main reason I chose Tiaan is that he’s smart guy, and knows there’s a lot of expectation. History tells me he copes well with that pressure, as he played a starring role in our Vodacom Cup victory a few seasons back. He was miles behind the other players conditioning wise because of his lay-off, and it’s taken a year to catch up. I believe he is there now so I am very confident that he will repay the faith we have shown in him.”
Snyman’s responsibilities are even more considerable bearing in mind the injury-enforced absence of Pretorius for the first month of the tournament. He is almost certain to start the campaign in jersey 10, and Ludeke’s faith is such that he let talented Leopards pivot Olivier join the Stormers, the Cats’ first opponent.
“To try and hide Naas in our squad would not be in the best interests of the player or the Leopards. The Leopards hierarchy have made it clear that they would like to see their players play, and I think that is a very reasonable expectation. He would have been a back-up 10 here, but the Stormers offer him a better opportunity for game time. That’s why I let him go.”
The Cats play the Bulls in two warm-up fixtures for the Super 14 at Ellis Park tomorrow.