Where does Pierre fit into the picture?
There is no doubt. Pierre Spies is currently causing a few headaches for Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.
Spies, after almost two years on the sidelines with serious injuries, is certainly leaving his mark on Super Rugby.
Although he was somewhat rusty at first, there is no doubt that the Bulls' captain has been one of the best loose forwards in the competition in recent weeks.
Just take a look at the statistics of his recent performances.
Spies makes an average of 14 tackles per game, carries the ball eight times a game and often get over the advantage line. Now add his contribution in the line-outs, where he is currently ranked fourth on the list of players who steal line-out ball on the opposition's throw. And then there were a few occasions where he stole some possession at the breakdown.
However, that does not mean that he is assured of a place in the Springbok team or World Cup squad.
Indeed, given the large number of outstanding loose forwards in South Africa, the question is: Where does Pierre Spies fit into the Bok picture?
Duane Vermeulen, South Africa's Player of the Year, is at the front of the No. 8 queue. Warren Whiteley, who appeared in two Tests last year, can't be discounted. In fact there are some pundits who believe that he is still worthy a place in the Bok squad.
Schalk Burger, who can play in all three loose forward positions, has also been delivering outstanding performances this year.
This means Spies' way back to the Green and Gold club – he played the last of his 53 Tests in June 2013 – is a very steep uphill.
Is there room for him elsewhere among the loose forwards?
Although he certainly plays more towards the ball, he is not an openside flank. Also, at No.6 he has to compete with players like Francois Louw, Marcell Coetzee and Siya Kolisi. Arno Botha is also a very useful underdog.
And on the blindside the competition is just as tough – men like Willem Alberts, Teboho Mohoje, Nizaam Carr and the underdog Jaco Kriel.
And as has already been mentioned, Schalk Burger can be used anywhere among the loose forwards.
It's always nice to speculate, but the Bok coach is not the kind of person who easily changes his teams – unless injury forces him to do so.
The loose trio that the Springbok coach used most often last year was: No. 6 Marcell Coetzee, No.7 Teboho Mohoje and No. 8 Duane Vermeulen.
However, Francois Louw was the preferred No.6 before his injury last year. Willem Alberts will definitely make things difficult for Mohoje, who has been on the injury list for some time and will probably only return in about a month's time.
Thus, it appears that No.8 is certainly Spies' best chance of a way back to the Bok team. But that would not be a walk in the park.
By Jan de Koning