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On the Brink: My Bok bolters

Schalk Burger did really well against England last weekend and made a big impact on the game, which has probably made Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer's loose forward World Cup selection decision slightly tougher.

There are six Test matches to go before World Cup 2015 and I think we are in a very good position with our loose forwards.

Willem Alberts has that something special, in getting go-forward for the team, and the conditions will really suit his game. I think he is very important and if can up his work rate (which some criticise) he is a starter for me.

Francois Louw is exceptional on the ground and unlike some other openside flanks he is a very good ball carrier and offloads well. He too is a starter for me.

Duane Vermeulen has convinced me of late. I was sceptical at first in regards to his ability to perform at the highest level, as I wasn't really sure about his pace, but he has been exceptional over the last year. So he starts at No.8 for me.

So I guess there are just three places left for loose forwards in the World Cup squad.

Marcell Coetzee is arguably the form loose forward at the moment, so at this point he has to go. He seems to have removed that 'crab run' across the field from his game and runs better lines now, which I like.

Burger, with his experience and ability to perform in the biggest of games, probably gives him the edge.

Juan Smith was immense for Toulon last season, so I'm surprised he is not in the Bok mix at the moment and I think one has to consider him at some point. It could end up being a choice between Burger and Smith?

Who would the reserve No.8 be? Pierre Spies? He is liked by Heyneke Meyer (from what one can gather), but perhaps not by all, and will probably get the nod from Meyer. He can score from 50 metres out, but the question is: Can he knock Kieran Read back five metres from our tryline when needed.

Nizaam Carr has had a wonderful season for Western Province and is versatile (he can play all the three positions in the back row), so if he gets a run in the next two Tests (not much time to prove yourself, but that's the way it is at the moment) we will see how he copes at the highest level.

He might just be the big Bok bolter…..

They say there is no substitute for pace, but the game has moved to a place where the corner tackling No.8 isn't that prominent anymore.

A powerful, getting over the gainline (with an ability to offload) No.8 has become more valuable, especially in the tight knock-out phases of a World Cup.

Against Italy they will face one of the best No.8s in world rugby, who continues to perform and that in a not so strong Italian team.

They also have a flank who has 80-odd games.

So, playing the Azzurri this coming Saturday, will be a good test for our loose forward combination and I'm sure Teboho Mohoje knows he has to put in some man of the match performances as the incumbent and in so doing enhance his case as candidate for the loose forward group to be taken to World Cup 2015.

Italy have picked up good wins against France (23-18 in 2013), Ireland (22-15 in 2013) and Scotland (13-6 in 2012) in Six Nations encounters.

It means on their day they can be formidable opponents.

At this point in the World Cup build-up, Meyer must be wanting for Italy to be on their game on Saturday and really test the Boks, because he will learn more from that as opposed to a 50-point win.

Johan Goosen at fullback? He has been playing there for Racing Metro, so he'll be in the zone of playing in that position.

I revert back to my initial column and must emphasise that if there is a chance for a drop-goal, we could, in this man, have that weapon.

Plus, he has great pace I believe, which is another great asset to have in your fullback.

Willie le Roux was good on Saturday, and you could always possibly play him on the wing in the World Cup, if you are looking for a long range drop-goaler in your back three.

Who'll ever forget that incredible drop-goal (on the run) from Stephen Larkham, which put us out of the World Cup in 1999 and that after Jannie de Beer had slotted one of his own on the day – not to mention the world-record five he banged over against England in the quarterfinal.

Some might think I'm reverting back to whatever era of conservative rugby they like to refer to, but that is not the case.

I look back in World Cup history and it's blatantly obvious how important it is to have drop-goalers if you are looking to sip champagne out of the Webb Ellis Cup.

The historical statistics, over eight World Cup tournaments, speak for themselves.

Life is about taking an opportunity if you're fortunate enough to be given one.

Cobus Reinach was very good against England, all things considered. His service was solid, his options good and he made few mistakes (besides two kicks being charged down).His pace is exceptional, so with that quality he could be defined as a game-breaker in my opinion.

Italy will present him with another opportunity to possibly cement his place.

You have to feel for Francois Hougaard, who is such a super player, but as a specialist No.9 his pass will always be questioned.

When you go into the knock-out phase of a World Cup there should be very few questionmarks relating to the players in your squad.

Let us hope Italy are on their game and give us a real test and in particular test the new selections.

* Robby Brink, a member of the victorious 1995 Springbok World Cup squad, is a the former Western Province and Stormers loose forward, who also had a stint with Irish province Ulster.

He writes exclusively for @rugby365com


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