In a first for Springbok coaches over the past few years, national coach Heyneke Meyer could break the trend today by selecting a generous handful of foreign-based players.
Since Meyer’s reign started last year, he opted for only two foreign-based players in scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar ofUlster and Bath flank Francois Louw. But that number could rise significantly today.
Meyer is a results-driven coach and one for showing continuity in selection, so this will be two major criteria for him when he announces his 30-man squad for the Rugby Championship.
No less than three of his ace players from the last Test against Samoa are now overseas – wing Bryan Habana, lock Juandre Kruger and flyhalf Morne Steyn.
Add hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle and scrumhalf Jano Vermaak to the list, and Meyer’s selection options becomes even more tricky.
But at least these players are only busy with pre-season in France and could still be eligible for selection. But one certainty will be the recall of Duane Vermeulen at No 8 to reunite the partnership with Louw and Willem Alberts which brought so many smiles to Meyer last year.
While Kruger, Steyn and Habana are not really replaceable at present, Vermaak and Ralepelle could miss out on selection.
There is a trend to choose three hookers and three scrumhalves as they are such specialised positions, which could bring Stormers scrumhalf Louis Schreuder and Cape team-mate Deon Fourie into the wider picture.
Fourie provides options as a third hooker and is a specialist No 6-fetcher and his selection is long overdue despite his lack of size.
With season-ending injuries to scrumhalf Francois Hougaard, eighthman Pierre Spies and centre Frans Steyn, and prop Frans Malherbe and flank Siya Kolisi still on the injured list, Meyer’s options are forced even further out of the box.