Venter to captain Boks

Sharks loosie AJ Venter is favourite to be named captain of the Springboks against the World XV at Ellis Park next Saturday.

The Springbok management has yet to decide on who will replace John Smit, but it will definitely come from one of either Venter, Wikus van Heerden or Victor Matfield. A final decision will only be made following the Boks warm-up match against Shimlas on Friday evening.

With John Smit ruled out with a groin strain, speculation has been rife in Bloemfontein as to a possible successor to lead the Boks for the unofficial Test on June 3. Smit may also miss the opening Test against Scotland in Durban, which would mean the man appointed for the World XV game may then become South Africa’s 52nd Test skipper the following weekend.

It is thus a decision that White and co will not take lightly. And only the most deserving of men have been handed the captain’s armband in Springbok Tests.

Several candidates have presented themselves with strong credentials though, but it seems Venter will get the nod. Jake White is a known fan of the leaderhsip abilities of Wikus van Heerden, but it seems the tearaway flanker will not feature in the starting line-up.

Lock Victor Matfield is another with captaincy experience, but he and White are known not to see eye to eye and it is doubtful the Bok coach will elevate Matfield to that position.

Gary Botha is expected to replace Smit in the No 2 jumper, but if Hanyani Shimange starts, then Van Heerden may actually start ahead of Solly Tyibilika and provide him with the opportunity to captain his country.

Cheetahs captain Juan Smith and Stormers duo De Wet Barry and Schalk Burger are not considered strong contenders. The latter two are unlikely to play in Johannesburg anyway.

Possible Springbok XV to play World XV:

15 Percy Montgomery
14 Gaffie du Toit
13 Jaque Fourie
12 Jean de Villiers
11 Andre Snyman
10 Jaco van der Westhuyzen
9 Ruan Pienaar
8 AJ Venter (captain)
7 Juan Smith
6 Solly Tyibilika
5 Victor Matfield
4 Danie Rossouw
3 Jannie du Plessis
2 Gary Botha
1 Eddie Andrews

By Andrew Hollely, in Bloemfontein