Kobus: Blood youngsters on tour

Vodacom Western Province coach Kobus van der Merwe has lauded the performances of the top Absa Currie Cup teams, and called for the inclusion of it’s form players on the Springbok end of year tour.

“I think it was a blessing in disguise that the Boks were ruled out of the competition,” he said. “This has allowed so many more youngsters to come through and show what they can do at this level.”

Van der Merwe spoke specifically of his own charges, players like Gio Aplon, Robbie Diack, Francois van der Merwe and Luke Watson all receiving a mention. In the WP coach’s opinion, these youngsters have done enough to warrant inclusion in the squad to tour the UK in November.

“These players have had a fantastic foundation in the Currie Cup, and it’s now just a question of making the step up to international level. And if I had to pick a captain for the tour, I’d look no further than Luke Watson.

“I think that the Springboks would benefit from taking a young and attacking team overseas. And it wouldn’t be a ‘B’ team either, I think they would be very competitive.”

Van der Merwe admitted that the uncapped selections should not be exclusive to WP, as the other unions have produced there fair share of talent this year.

Jaco Pretorius of the Lions and Phillip Burger of Free State have performed consistently, bringing an extra edge to the game with their Springbok Sevens background. Kabamba Floors is another with a Sevens background who has excelled for Free State, as has his back row partner, Ryno van der Merwe.

Francois Steyn and Ryan Kankowski of the Sharks are two other names that should be added to that list, while Bulls loose forwards Hilton Lobberts and Derick Kuun have shown a lot of promise as well.

There are of course many others, and this fact should only serve to support the argument to blood some new talent. As Van der Merwe says, it is possible to take the youngsters overseas without risking defeat.

The Vodacom Super 14 is widely considered the benchmark of a player’s ability, but experimenting with youngsters in the subsequent Tests three months ahead of the World Cup may not be the best way of developing a settled group of players.

White should take some of the fresh talent the Currie Cup has produced and start grooming them for France. If they fail on the UK tour or in the Super 14, so be it. At least when he picks his final squad for the World Cup he will know that he has explored all of his options.

By Jon Cardinelli