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Who should steer the Bok ship?

If Australia, New Zealand and South Africa are to get the better of their northern rivals in June they will need a composed halfback combination in order to control matters on home soil.

 

The options for Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer are varied, as every Super Rugby franchise has an exciting flyhalf who merits consideration and he could call on experienced hands from afar such as Fourie Du Preez and Ruan Pienaar.

 

Du Preez has made it clear that although he is available he believes that Francois Hougaard's time has come to start in the No.9 jersey, but that does not rule out the possibility of him providing some mentoring from within the squad.

 

There may be a concern about the lack of quality scrumhalves putting pressure on Hougaard within South Africa at the moment, which makes Pienaar's case much stronger.

 

The Bok playmaker was instrumental in Ulster's impressive European campaign and given his experience and versatility he could find himself involved once more as convenient cover on the bench.

 

The other contenders include the frustratingly inconsistent Charl McLeod of the Sharks and the talented yet inexperienced Piet van Zyl from the Cheetahs.

 

The selection of the Springbok flyhalf is as complex and difficult as it ever has been thanks to a crop of young players who all offer something slightly different, and the trick will be finding the right fit for the matches against England.

 

The incumbent Springbok backline has Morne Steyn at flyhalf and Pat Lambie at fullback, and it is difficult to see Meyer straying from that arrangement for the June Tests.

 

Johan Goosen's injury has taken away the biggest possible disruption to that set-up, as Elton Jantjies and Peter Grant have to be viewed as outside shots to unseat Steyn at pivot.

 

Starting:

 

9 Francois Hougaard:

He is one of the most dangerous players in the world at the moment and if he is held back or shifted to the wing it would be a shame as he has the potential to make a serious impact at Test level.

 

10 Morne Steyn:

Apart from the crucial fact that he has an esablished and successful combination with Hougaard, he  has unleashed an impressive Bulls backline this season and given his unmatched goal-kicking abilities he deserves to get the nod.

 

Bench:

 

20 Ruan Pienaar:

His experience could prove vital, and with his good recent form he could provide both an impact and an assured presence on the park at the end of the match.

 

21 Peter Grant:

His consistency and composure under pressure make him a valuable asset in the Test arena while he also has the ability to play in the midfield.

 

By Michael de Vries

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