RICHARD FERGUSON wonders what will happen should the du Plessis brothers leave for France, and which of the two will be missed most?
Rumours come around every year that the du Plessis brothers will be leaving to join some big club in France. It happened in 2011, it happened last year and once again, 2013 has been hit with the story that the brothers Dup will be joining Toulouse after the Super Rugby season finishes.
As most of you know, I am a Sharks supporter, and most Sharks supporters will not like what I am about to say, but I am going to voice my opinion anyway. The Sharks will manage without the Dup brothers. The question is – will the Springboks manage?
The Springboks have managed to play without Bismarck for most of last year, and while the Boks have not especially wowed us at any point, Bismarck alone would not have been able to change that. Even if Bismarck decided to head to France, he will surely be included in the Springbok squad along with Ruan Pienaar and Francois Louw, both playing in Europe as well.
Bismarck would have to specifically exclude himself form Springbok selection, like Jaque Fourie did, to not make the team anyway. And should he do that, my personal opinion is that Adriaan Strauss is a perfect replacement for him.
I have never been the greatest fan of Adriaan Strauss, but his performances in Green and Gold last year were on par. He has shown good form so far this year and his leadership role at the Cheetahs has been influential in their recent success. Looking beyond Strauss is where the problem lies. No other hooker in the country has shown any form that could make him an international, and would be a big concern for our man in charge Meyer.
Closing the argument on Strauss is captaincy issue within the Springbok setup. Jean de Villiers did an okay job of being captain last year, but his performances did not match up and he was playing on fumes. His performances in the Super Rugby season to date have not impressed either, and it will take a brave (or just silly) coach to appoint him as captain again. Strauss is a seasoned captain and would lead the Springboks as the best hooker in the country.
As for Bismarck’s pilfering abilities, Meyer will have to look at Heinrich Brussow instead of having your hooker doing the fetching. Brussow’s form so far this season has been amazing and if included in the Springbok line-up, would mean the hooker can concentrate on doing just that, playing hooker.
Jannie, on the other hand, is a stalwart, and has been for the last few years, but his time may be up. His performances to date have not been on the standard that we have seen in the past. He also cannot play a full game of rugby anymore, with him regularly being replaced at half time. His discipline in the recent past has also been questionable, with a temper that has cost many a Sharks and Springbok supporter to tear their hair out.
Looking beyond the big man, a few replacements jump to mind. Frans Malherbe was Heyneke Meyer’s choice as backup during last year, but he has not improved sufficiently in the last few months to warrant that. Looking to Coenie Oosthuizen, who himself is a walking penalty and seems to always battle with injury, looks unlikely to be able to push for a full time starting spot.
Tighthead seems to be another position in which Heyneke Meyer is going to struggle should these two disappear. The likelihood of either of the brothers completely distancing themselves from Springbok rugby is slight. That said, should something happen to Jannie in particular, the Springbok front row might not be the rock that we have become accustomed to.