Captain, My Captain

Jun 19 • General News, International, Springboks, The Rugby Championship • 2775 Views • Comments Off on Captain, My Captain

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Written by: David vd Merwe @djvanman

Heyneke Meyer might be in a difficult position come the first test of the Castle Lager Incoming tour. Jean de Villiers will not be ready to play as yet and Duane Vermeulen’s selection is uncertain at this stage due to injury. Who will captain the Springbok side if they are not availible?

But let us take a step back before we get there. In 2009 Peter de Villiers selected John Smith as his Springbok captain. By the time the 2011 World Cup came around, John was no longer the best hooker in the country and a make shift prop at best. Although a brilliant captain, John could no longer make the side on playing merit alone. You can crucify me all you want but it is a fact.

Jean de Villiers is in much the same boat. The best captain we have, yet no longer the best 12. His injury has not helped him either. I have always been a big JdV supporter, but the reality is we have better inside centres in SA. Guys like Jan Serfontein & Frans Steyn, should he sort out his contract issues with SARU, are better options.

Now we have the added worry about Duane Vermeulen and his neck injury. Meyer has made it clear that should JdV not be ready Duane would be his next option as captain. Where does he go next?

“Victor Matfield!” The Pretoria based fans will shout. Is he an option? He may well be but it will take us back to the 2011 situation. Victor is no longer a certain first choice in the side. If he can still go 80 minutes in a test is also up for debate. In my view a captain should play the whole game and not be replaced.

Next in line will probably be Schalk Burger. Again not a certain start or even an 80 minute player. He will not be a bad choice as he has proven track record with the Stormers.

“Bismarck du Plessis?” I can hear the Sharks guys screaming for this. He has however given up the Sharks’ captaincy as it had to much of an impact on his playing form.

Now comes the shocker for many. Francois Louw. Meyer has said that Louw would be his choice had he played his rugby in SA. Louw has a proven record with Bath. He is player that can make the side on merit. He can play 80 minutes. His down fall is that SA fans will not accept a captain based overseas. Is this a reason not make him captain? Again in my view: “No!” Louw is a player that will probably reach the 2019 World Cup with ease and on merit. A captain for the future. Of course depending on the coach after the World Cup.

Looking at the Francois Louw situation we need to think about the following as well. Duane Vermeulen is happily singing: “All my bags are packed and I’m ready to go. I’m leaving on a jetplane, don’t know when I’ll be back again.” He is going to Toulon in France. Still he is currently the best 8th-man we have by far. Debatebly the best in the world currently. He has taken the Stormers to a third SA Conference title in 4 years. A hard man that plays 80 minutes just about every game. Suddenly because he is foreign based, South African supporters feels he is not worthy of the captaincy or even to play. Why? Because he has traded his country of birth for money.

It is time we as fans and supporters accept the fact that the best availible players for the Springboks will not always be SA based. Nor will the captain be. Even the next coach might be a foreigner. Is this a bad thing? I think not.


Will you stay in South Africa in your current job if a foreign company offers you a salary five to six times what you can earn in South Africa? If you say yes then you are living in a dream world. Yet we expect our rugby players who has a career of maximum 15 -17 years after high school to do it. Sport fans should wake up and smell the roses. Talent will leave but that does not mean we can’t select or use them.

Meyer should select his best 23-man squad for the upcoming test series, The Rugby Championship and World Cup and then select the captain. Be it Vermeulen, De Villiers or even Louw. No matter who he selects, there will always be some fans out there that will not be happy. That is the nature of the game.

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