Give the youngsters a run

David Rush, South Coast Herald

THE game against the Argentinian Pumas this Friday night (at 9pm) will be interesting perhaps mostly in the sense of who coach Heyneke Meyer decides to select.

All Black captain Richie McCaw is 34 years old. In my humble opinion, that should be the absolute oldest age limit for an international rugby player, unless you are Os du Randt.

Even 34 is pushing it, but McCaw is a legend of the game, one of the greatest ever, not someone fighting for his place in the team.

So, while the game is important of who finishes third – and also not losing twice in the same year to Argentina – it can provide an interesting look at what the future might hold.

Here’s the Boks under 30-years-old team, with an eye on the next World Cup, in four years time.

Backs

15 Willie le Roux – 26. Is a quality player but needs more consistency.
14 JP Pietersen – 29. Makes the grade now, just, but will most likely be too slow in four years’ time.
13 Jesse Kriel – 21. Jan Serfontein is 22, and will be knocking on the door.
12 Damian de Allende – 23. Growing in form and confidence all the time.
11 Lwazi Mvovo – 29. Bryan Habana is 32 and slowing down it seems. Mvovo not really a realistic longer term option.
10 Handré Pollard – 21. Pat Lambie is 25, so things look healthy at fly-half.
9 Rudy Paige – 26. Fourie du Preez is 33 and Ruan Pienaar 31. Not sure either of this trio is a long-term option.

Forwards

8 Duane Vermeulen – 29. Scrapes in, but will he be injury free for a good length of time? A captaincy option. But do we want yet another ‘ageing/passenger’ captain?

7 Willem Alberts – 31. There’s no other loose forward in the squad under the age of 30. Schalk Burger is 32.
6 Siya Kolisi – 24. Francois Louw is 30, so could arguably still make it for the next World Cup, maybe even as captain. But will he be good enough then?
5 Lood de Jager – 22. Great to know he will be around for a while. Will have to keep up his form to keep Pieter-Steph du Toit (23) out.
4 Eben Etzebeth – 23. A powerhouse. Glad he’s in our team.
3 Frans Malherbe – 24. Jannie du Plessis is 32. Time to let the younger powerhouses play.
2 Adriaan Strauss – 29. Bismarck du Plessis is 31. Could possibly still make one more World Cup.
1 Trevor Nyakane – 26. Beast Mtawarira is 30 and not the force he once was.

Obviously there are players back home, who after seeing our performances, will be champing at the bit to get into the squad.

The biggest opportunities are on the wings, among the loose forwards, and at tight-head.

There’s a big question over the captaincy. We really need someone who will be around for a while.

There are also question marks over Heyneke Meyer and whether or not he will continue as coach.

Time will tell. Never a dull moment being a Bok fan.

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