Crunch time for Boks

The race for places in Jake White’s 2007 Rugby World Cup squad starts against the World XV on Saturday.

“The guys are starting to compete for a place in the World Cup squad on Saturday. If they don’t grab the chance with both hands, they musn’t blame me,” White told Die Volksblad.

The Boks face the World XV at Ellis Park in five days (kick-off 3pm) in a match that will not count as a Test, but will provide White with an ideal opportunity to view certain individuals and combinations in a virtual Test arena.

“Even though Saturday’s encounter isn’t a Test, the guys are going to represent the Boks. I’m not going to give everybody a chance on Saturday, because I could just shoot myself in the foot.”

After revealing his hand in a warm-up match against the Shimlas on Friday evening – which the Boks won 90-5 and the game was called off after just 60 minutes – White has now decided to mix things up a bit more.

“I’m now also going to pick players who will play in the Test against Scotland,” he said.

It was initially thought that White would select a so-called dirt-trackers team, but he has probably changed his mind in his quest to start on a winning note against the Wrold XV, who were beaten 46-19 by England on Sunday.

Two players he may want to keep his eye on are Jaco van der Westhuyzen at flyhalf, who had been playing at fullback for the Bulls, and how Andre Snyman (wing) combines with some of the established backs.

White said: “He hasn’t played flyhalf this year and I must give him a chance in this position.”

Van der Westhuyzen played flyhalf for a few minutes against the Shimlas. It seems as if White wants to start with Meyer Bosman against the World XV.

Also, players who sat on the bench for their Super 14 teams and did not get a lot of time on the park, will probably be given a chance to prove themselves.

This includes the likes of utility back Brent Russell, flanker Solly Tyibilika and hooker Hanyani Shimange.

The performance of the tight five minus Victor Matfield, John Smit, Bakkies Botha, Os du Randt and CJ van der Linde will provide the coach with a valuable yardstick to his depth in those key positons.

“It gives us a chance to give others the opportunity to show what they can do. Someone like Victor is getting a well-deserved break.”