Victor Matfield must be lured back to Springbok rugby for the 2014 and 2015 seasons. There is no South African No 5 lock in his class.
Fourie du Preez delivered a master class cameo against the Pumas that screamed good enough is young enough and that good enough should be the only criteria to Bok selection.
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer’s primary objective is to win every time the Boks play. He has been consistent in saying a winning habit is the best preparation to any tournament campaign, be it the Rugby Championship every year or the Rugby World Cup every four years.
Du Preez is the best scrumhalf available to South Africa. Where he plays his domestic rugby should never be a consideration when it comes to national selection.
I don’t subscribe to the theory that if you limit or prohibit offshore Springbok selections then it will stop the exodus to Europe and Japan.
Rugby is evolving as a profession every year and it is important to separate club, provincial and regional tournaments from the cause of the national team.
There are more than 100 very good South African players excelling abroad. Of those 100 less than 10 percent are better than what is in South Africa when considering national selection.
This has to be put into context.
That 10 percent, however, is the difference between a very good Springbok match day squad and a potential great Bok match day squad, with the capability of winning a World Cup.
Meyer has the quality player available to him to take assemble a World Cup squad that will travel in 2015 with conviction and not just hope.
The 10 percent of the 100-plus players is 30 percent of the World Cup squad. The 10 percent is roughly 10 selections in 30.
By limiting selection all the South African Rugby Union would be doing is denying the national coach the opportunity to take his strongest team to England in 2015.
Players should not be punished for excellence. A less talented player should not be rewarded with Bok selection because there isn’t as great a demand for him to play overseas.
There has to be maturity in this outlook. No player is turning his back on his country by opting for an overseas contract that can’t be matched locally.
The rugby public must stop begrudging a player his right to maximize his earning capacity; more so given the professional life span of the player is more five years than the 10 it once was in the amateur era.
Du Preez’s cameo highlighted just what Meyer and the South African public has been missing.
I have no doubt that when Jaque Fourie returns to South Africa in 2015 or makes himself available for selection to the Boks in 2015 he will prove as valuable an asset.
The key to the Boks success, in the now and in Rugby’s marquee tournament in 2015, is going to be the quality of the bench.
The ruthless exhibition against the Pumas can be linked directly to the immense stature of player introduced in the second half.
Meyer must be allowed to continue to build a squad befitting the challenge of a World Cup campaign and the week-to-week goal of winning Test matches.
The same amount of players will continue to leave South Africa in between World Cup years, whether the opportunity to play for the Boks is a possibility or not.
I want to see the best available Bok team every time they play, and not just for the six week duration of a World Cup every four years.
The regional woes of losing players should not be made the national coach’s problem. Meyer should not be limited in his selection.
In South Africa the best players are retired too young in selection because of this obsession that a younger player is the greater investment.
Judge the quality of the player and not his age.
I still believe Victor Matfield retired too young and since 2011 not one No 5 lock in South Africa has matched his on-field contribution.
Meyer should be encouraging Matfield to consider playing again in 2014. He still has two quality years in him as a player.
There will be many who mock the suggestion of a Matfield return and they would be the same who bemoaned Du Preez’s Bok selection.
Meyer’s Boks in Soweto gave a hint of the possibilities of this team if there are no restrictions on selection or limitations on the desire to dream of being the best in the world.
We need to think big – and that means we need to think Matfield as well.
Take what excelled in Soweto and think of the strength of a Bok World Cup squad that includes Fourie, JP Pietersen, a fit and firing Frans Steyn, a motivated Matfield, the experience of Bakkies Botha -to go with Eben Etzebeth – and even the possibility of Schalk Burger.
Meyer must be allowed to revel in what’s on offer and not be restricted because of the geographic of what’s on offer.