Luke Watson, BJ Botha and Schalk Brits will not be included in an extended 45-man Springbok squad despite their outstanding Vodacom Super 14 form.
Instead, Solly Tyibilika â€“ in what appears to be an act of window dressing â€“ will once again wear the green and gold, despite being dropped from the Sharks’ Super 14 squad. He has spent most of the season with the Wildebeest in the Vodacom Cup and is struggling to find form.
Speaking to Cape Argus rugby writer Dale Granger, White explained why Watson would not be selected ahead of Tyibilika. He also told Granger that Chiliboy Ralepelle would be the additional hooker and not Brits.
White said that it was not him who would not pick Hanyani Shimange for the Stormers and that Shimange had done nothing wrong in the national set-up to warrant being left out. White also told Granger that he had spoken to Bok and Sharks captain John Smit after the Sharks win against the Stormers and Smit had told him that Eddie Andrews and Shimange were two of the strongest they had faced this year.
It is well known that White has not rated Watson and Brits as he has often been dismissive of their claims.
However, the big surprise is that the Bok coach may look beyond BJ Botha, who has been the form SA tighthead in the competition.
White said that with CJ van der Linde returning from injury, he was comfortable the right props were already in his squad.
“Solly Tyibilika did not play much Super 14 rugby but in five Tests he has never been on the losing side,” said the coach.
What White says is true, however only one of those Test wins came against a major Test nation (Australia at Ellis Park last year). The rest were achieved against Scotland, Uruguay and Argentina.
“There are half-a-dozen good loose-forwards of a similar vintage to Luke Watson,” added White, “including Juan Smith, 24, Schalk Burger, 23, Pedrie Wannenburg, 25, and Jacques Cronje, 24.
“All of these are players who have played Test rugby for South Africa. They can all do what Luke Watson does and more – as they can be used in the line-outs.
“It was tough on the understudy to Naas Botha at the Bulls when he was South Africa’s star flyhalf. There is, unfortunately, simply not enough room to accommodate everybody.”
It now appears that as long as White is Bok coach, Watson will remain in the international wilderness.