Friday, 5 June 2009

Springbok squad for British Lions tests

The Springbok squad to face the 2009 British Lions was announced a few days ago. Overall there were not too many surprises, the selectors opting to name a formidable and experienced squad - many of the players were involved in the victorious 2007 World Cup campaign. As usual in any squad announcement, there were a few players who would feel unlucky not to be picked - Zane Kirchner and Stefan Terblanche, to name but a couple, but overall the squad has a balanced feel about it.

There are two uncapped players in the squad: Morne Steyn who has looked solid for the Blue Bulls this season, and Earl Rose, who has looked anything but. This is proving to be a particularly controversial selection, with many feeling that Rose simply is not good enough to play at this level. That he is talented is clear, but it is felt that he makes far too many silly mistakes.

Earl Rose has played age-group rugby under Springbok coach Pieter de Villiers, who obviously feels he is worth investing in. However this whole controversy threatens to assume Luke Watson-esque proportions, with allegations of favouritism being hurled around. Unfortunately the player never wins out in these circumstances - the best Rose can hope for is that he silences his critics on the pitch if indeed he is given an opportunity in the tests.

The Springbok squad comprises 10 players each from the Sharks and Blue Bulls, four from the Western Province Stormers, and two each from the Cheetahs and (Golden) Lions.

Springbok squad to face the British Lions

John Smit (Captain)
Victor Matfield (Vice-Captain)
Andries Bekker
Bakkies Botha
Schalk Burger
Deon Carstens
Bismarck du Plessis
Ryan Kankowski
Tendai "Beast" Mtawarira
Chiliboy Ralepelle
Danie Rossouw
Juan Smith
Pierre Spies
Gurthrö Steenkamp

Jean de Villiers
Fourie du Preez
Jaque Fourie
Bryan Habana
Adi Jacobs
Ricky Januarie
Odwa Ndungane
Jongi Nokwe
Wynand Olivier
Ruan Pienaar
JP Pietersen
Earl Rose
Frans Steyn
Morné Steyn

Given the British Lions's recent strong showing against the Golden Lions, anticipation is building for a competitive test series. This is one pundit who suspects it may be a lot closer than many in the southern hemisphere are predicting!

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