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Former Bok captain not sold on Johan Goosen as Springboks flyhalf

By Warren Fortune
(Photo by Getty Images)

Springbok legend Jean de Villiers believes the flyhalf position is a “big red flag” for the Springboks ahead of their Tests in Europe next month.

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The Springboks revealed a 26-man training squad on Tuesday ahead of the tour and Johan Goosen was the only player listed as a flyhalf.

Damian Willemse has been listed as a utility back, but he is expected to don the No 10 jersey again as he has done on several occasions this year so far.

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Elton Jantjies is currently dealing with personal issues, while Handre Pollard is nursing a knee injury.

Speaking at a URC media round table on Tuesday, De Villiers expressed his concerns over the all-important No.10 role.

“No.10 is the position that is the biggest worry from a South African point of view, especially with [Handre] Pollard being injured,” said De Villiers.

“Damian Wilemse can do the job there, but I am still of the view that No.12 is his best position.

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“Elton Jantjies is going through personal stuff and I don’t think it will be right to include him in that setup. He needs to sort out his personal life, which is way more important than rugby.”

De Villiers added: “Flyhalf is the one position where not a lot of answers were given throughout the Rugby Championship and going into the tour that is going to be a big concern.

“Even though the Springboks kick a lot off No 9, you do need that general to be able to take control of the game.

“When you play up north in the wet, it is even more important to control the game.

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“That is the big red flag from a South African point of view.”

De Villiers said he was not convinced by Goosen’s performances for the Bulls so far this season.

“I don’t think Goosen has shown enough. His form before his [knee] injury was fantastic, but I don’t think he has shown the same form coming back yet.

“The Bulls’ performances have not helped with that at all.

“He is definitely a guy that they will be looking at in the long term, but if you had to go into a game tomorrow, I would go with Damian Willemse at No.10 and Wille le Roux at No.15.

“I just like the balance that [combination] brings to the team.

“It happened through substitutions in that first Test match against Wales in Pretoria and I really like what I saw.

“You also have that left-right combination in terms of kicking.

“Defensively, Damian Willemse is really strong in that channel and he can do the job there and then from an attacking point of view – depending on where you are on the field – they can just interchange that No.10 and No.15 positions.”

Despite that potential combination, De Villiers is not expecting the Boks to deviate too much from their “conservative” game plan on tour.

“We know that the Boks play pretty conservative and when it comes to selection, they will probably go with a conservative option again,” De Villiers explained.

“What that will look like, I don’t know at this stage.

“I think we are very limited in terms of No.10s at the moment and long-term it will be Goosen.

“That [Goosen’s inclusion] probably shows the hand of the Boks.

“Frans Steyn might still play a part as well from the bench and they will probably go with that and with Willemse to start at No.10.

“Steyn and Faf de Klerk will fill that replacement flyhalf position and Goosen will probably get a run against Italy.”

-Warren Fortune/Rugby365

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