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Who deserves to don Green and Gold?

Speculating on selection will never get boring and always sparks some heated debate, so with that in mind we present our top 22 for Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

The last few weeks have been a stressful time for new Bok coach Heyneke Meyer as he has tried to weigh up his options ahead of his first Test in charge with the unrelenting battle that is Super Rugby raging on in the background.


The task of selecting a balanced team which has the ability to execute the gameplan to beat England in Durban next Saturday has not been made any easier by the brutal clashes in recent weeks, and with two big South African derbies to round things off this weekend Meyer will count himself lucky if there are no further serious injuries to frontline players.


As proven by the varied responses to our examination of all of the contenders, there are many differing opinions out there about the best combinations to represent the Springboks, which underlines the diversity of options available. 


The only view that really counts is Meyer's and many of his choices are likely to be influenced by the specific approach the team needs to adopt to beat England, but that does not make it any less entertaining to play selector when standing around a braai or browsing through a rugby website on your 'lunch break'.


The team we have selected has had to be adjusted due to injury, and may never line up for the Springboks exactly as we have them here, but we are not a bunch to shy away from a challenge and there is certainly nothing wrong with a bit of harmless speculation.


The latest favourite to lead the Springboks out at Kings Park is veteran scrumhalf Fourie du Preez, there is no doubt he would make a convincing leader but it does raise questions about how best to use the talents of Francois Hougaard who could find himself on the bench or on the wing.


Our side has Jean de Villiers as skipper at outside centre, and this in itself is a fairly bold call as he has played at inside centre for most of his career but it does represent another viable short-term option.


The Sharks front row have started firing just in time for Test season and as a settled and experienced combination they should be able to give England a fierce test up front, but things are not as straight forward in the second row.


Andries Bekker's Springbok injury curse has struck again which leaves Meyer severely short on options and could see the inclusion of Flip van der Merwe in the starting line-up alongside his Bulls teammate Juandre Kruger.


While it may be viewed as extremely risky to give both locks their debut at the same time the impact that Eben Etzebeth and Kruger have made this year cannot be ignored and we believe that with Van der Merwe on the bench the tight five will be well covered.


One of the more controversial selections in our team is putting Lions captain Joshua Strauss at blindside flank, especially considering Willem Alberts' barnstorming performance against the Stormers last week, and there have also been question marks over the form of Heinrich Brussow and Pierre Spies, although their experience at the highest level cannot be disregarded.


Our backline does not have Du Preez in the mix, but there is a fair amount of continuity with the Bulls halfback pairing, World Cup fullback Pat Lambie at the back and stalwarts such as Frans Steyn, De Villiers and JP Pietersen.


The selection of De Villiers in the No.13 jersey may be a highly debatable decision, and it is also unlikely to see Lwazi Mvovo start ahead of Bryan Habana on the left wing, but there will have to be some big calls made to find a balance and this is our solution.


There is not long to wait now before the tension is released and Meyer's squad for the first Test is revealed, but until then may the banter continue as we present our Springbok match-day 22 for the first Test against England. Springbok team: 15 Pat Lambie, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jean de Villiers (captain), 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Morne Steyn, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Joshua Strauss, 6 Heinrich Brussow, 5 Juandre Kruger, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.

Replacements: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Coenie Oosthuizen, 18 Flip van der Merwe, 19 Willem Alberts, 20 Ruan Pienaar, 21 Juan de Jongh, 22 Gio Aplon.


By Michael de Vries


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