VIDEO: CJ's big Bok bolter at No.8
Selections in sporting teams always cause a big debate.
Even the most unbiased selectors are said to be influenced by their own subjective assumptions and interpretations of players’ abilities.
With this in mind, @rugby365com put the selection poser to two retired legends of the game – former Springbok captain Jean de Villiers and Irish 50-capper Christiaan Stander.
The two were guest speakers on a United Rugby Championship media round table ahead of Saturday’s Grand Finale in Cape Town – when the defending-champion Stormers host Irish province Munster.
De Villiers, who played more than 150 games for the Stormers and Western Province, also spent a season in Limerick with Munster – making 20-odd appearances for the Irish team.
Stander, born and schooled in South Africa, made 60-odd appearances for the Bulls in Pretoria, before departing for Ireland in 2012 – where he earned more than 150 caps for Munster.
@rugby365com painted a hypothetical scenario – World Cup Final in France in October: Ireland versus South Africa.
Stander was asked to name his preferred loose forward combinations for both teams and De Villiers was given the halfback selections.
Current injuries were not factored into the selection.
Stander said he would select Josh van der Flier, Peter O’Mahony and Caelan Doris as his Ireland loose trio.
Then he dropped a Bok bombshell – Siyamthanda Kolisi, Pieter-Steph du Toit and Evan Roos to play for South Africa in the Final.
De Villiers had a seemingly more straightforward selection.
He named Jamison Gibson-Park and Johnny Sexton as his Irish halfbacks, with Francois de Klerk and Handre Pollard for South Africa.
The attention quickly returned to Stander and his selection.
(Article continues below the Stander and De Villiers interview …)
Asked about his choice of Roos, Stander said he first saw him play for Paarl Boys’ High School and felt he has “unbelievable athletic abilities”.
“Subsequently he started improving his work rate and working on his defence,” Stander added.
“He is unbelievably explosive.
“I saw him score a try against Connacht at the Danie Craven Stadium [in Stellenbosch] and you don’t see that [explosiveness] anymore.
“Since that day I have followed him and I really like the way he plays.
“For me, he is the obvious choice at No.8, he plays hard, is physical.
“Maybe there was a bit too much physicality at the start of the year and did a few things that weren’t right [according to the laws].
“He has come back from injury, he is fit and playing well.
“He is a great allround player and someone I think will be in the [Springbok] No.8 jersey for a long time.”