Planet Rugby

The contenders to replace Du Preez

01st July 2014 16:05

Share:

Ruan Pienaar SA v world XV 2014

Next in line: Ruan Pienaar

With first-choice scrum-half Fourie du Preez out of The Rugby Championship, Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer must assess his options.

None of the players below offer the complete expertise of the World Cup winner, hence his domination of the Bok number nine jersey since making his debut in 2004, winning 70 caps in that time despite a near-two-year absence as he recharged his batteries in Japan.

But with Du Preez sidelined for three months with an ankle injury, the Springboks now have to look elsewhere.

Here are the contenders to step in.

Ruan Pienaar (Ulster)

Royalty and religion are two subjects best avoided in Ulster, but Pienaar's status around the revamped Ravenhill ramparts do not fall far short of both king and deity in Belfast.

In the green and gold of South Africa, however, it has often been a different story. Derided as slow and sluggish to deliver ball from the breakdown, Pienaar has never really made the Springbok number nine jersey his own; even from Japan, Du Preez casts quite the shadow.

Over half of his 76 Tests since 2006 have come from the bench; his own versatility on top of the brilliance of his rival having hindered that particular statistic.

There is no doubt Pienaar's game management and leadership have improved drastically since his arrival on UK shores. But with Du Preez's slick service, nous and awareness so key to the Springbok game-plan, Ulster's South African saviour is still widely regarded across his homeland as little more than a safe pair of hands.

Francois Hougaard (Bulls)

Best described as a livewire, Hougaard boasts great speed and has professed his desire to remain at scrum-half rather than on the wing, where his pace has also been put to good use.

Pienaar may be the much-fancied heir apparent to Du Preez's throne, but the Bulls man knows Morne Steyn's game well and would form a highly dangerous partnership with Pollard.

His temperament can be called into question, but his service is excellent, his kicking ever-improving and his threat with ball in hand greater than that offered by the Ulster nine. But the Boks often lose shape with Hougaard pulling the strings, which is not ideal early on.

Hougaard should push Pienaar all the way for a starting berth, but his selection will ultimately depend on the opposition, the game-plan and just how adventurous the Springbok management are feeling.

Rory Kockott (Castres)

After two years of headline-grabbing performances in France, calls for the Castres playmaker's selection have been growing amongst South African fans, but it's highly unlikely he will be considered, despite his outstanding place-kicking skills.

Meyer has never openly said 'no' but reading between the lines of the Bok mentor's comments on the subject, the conclusion must be that if it was ever going to happen, it would have by now.

Kockott's personality could well be a sticking point - big egos don't last long in Meyer's setup, as was the case with the scrum-half's former Sharks team-mate, Keegan Daniel.

Louis Schreuder (Stormers)

Regarded as a long-term candidate for the Springboks, Schreuder has clearly caught the attention of Meyer in the past judging by his continued inclusion in recent Springbok squads. While little separates the uncapped Schreuder from the rest of the pack, Meyer noteworthily stated that Schreuder "fits in with the way we want to play."

The 24-year-old from Paarl is a longshot having only just returned to training with the Stormers from a fractured thumb, but was selected for the November Tests in Europe last year to the surprise of some critics. His undercooked outing in last year's Currie Cup Final didn't help to win them over.

Depending on if he proves his fitness for the Stormers in the next two weeks, he may feature.

Piet van Zyl (Bulls)

The 24-year-old's move away from Bloemfontein to join the Bulls has done his international prospects no good. After a stellar Super Rugby season with the Cheetahs in 2013 that led to his first two caps for the Boks, he has fallen off the radar as he spends most of his time in Pretoria on the bench. Van Zyl would combine wonderfully with former team-mate Willie le Roux, but it's hard to see him considered given his lack of game time.

The list extends beyond those four candidates with others in the frame. Cobus Reinach has excelled for the Sharks under Jake White.

Lions upstart number nine Faf de Klerk has caught the eye but is some way short of the chasing pack, while Jano Vermaak hasn't appeared for the Boks since last year's Rugby Championship. Sarel Pretorius, back in South Africa with the Cheetahs, is uncapped, the wrong side of 30 and arguably too erratic for Meyer's taste.

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , November 28
Bath vs Harlequins19:45
Saturday , November 29
Leicester Tigers vs Wasps15:00
Exeter vs Saracens16:30
Sunday , November 30
London Irish vs Gloucester13:00
London Welsh vs Northampton14:30
Newcastle Falcons vs Sale Sharks15:15
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
International Match
Saturday , November 29
Wales vs South Africa14:30
England vs Australia14:30
More International Match fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , November 28
Munster vs Ulster19:35
Cardiff Blues vs Treviso19:35
Saturday , November 29
Zebre vs Edinburgh15:00
Leinster vs Ospreys17:15
Connacht vs Scarlets19:30
Sunday , November 30
Glasgow Warriors vs Dragons16:00
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Saturday , November 29
Toulon vs Clermont Auvergne14:45
Oyonnax vs Bordeaux-Begles18:30
Lyon vs Montpellier18:30
La Rochelle vs Bayonne18:30
Castres vs Racing Metro Paris18:30
Toulouse vs Grenoble20:45
Sunday , November 30
Stade Francais vs Brive18:00
More Top 14 fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , November 23
Saracens 24 - 31 NorthamptonSaracens vs Northampton Report
London Welsh 5 - 26 Leicester TigersLondon Welsh vs Leicester Tigers Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Georgia 35 - 24 JapanGeorgia vs Japan Report
More International Match results
Guinness PRO12
Treviso 24 - 24 LeinsterTreviso vs Leinster Report
Edinburgh 28 - 13 Cardiff BluesEdinburgh vs Cardiff Blues Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , November 22
London Irish 23 - 33 BathLondon Irish vs Bath Report
Exeter 31 - 15 WaspsExeter vs Wasps Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Italy 6 - 22 South AfricaItaly vs South Africa Report
England 28 - 9 SamoaEngland vs Samoa Report
France 13 - 18 ArgentinaFrance vs Argentina Report
Wales 16 - 34 New ZealandWales vs New Zealand Report
Scotland 37 - 12 TongaScotland vs Tonga Report
Ireland 26 - 23 AustraliaIreland vs Australia Report
Romania 18 - 9 CanadaRomania vs Canada Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , November 21
Harlequins 12 - 16 Sale SharksHarlequins vs Sale Sharks Report
Newcastle Falcons 20 - 10 GloucesterNewcastle Falcons vs Gloucester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Fiji 20 - 14 USAFiji vs USA Report
More International Match results
Guinness PRO12
Dragons 12 - 38 MunsterDragons vs Munster Report
Ulster 25 - 16 OspreysUlster vs Ospreys Report
Connacht 43 - 3 ZebreConnacht vs Zebre Report
Scarlets 19 - 9 Glasgow WarriorsScarlets vs Glasgow Warriors Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , November 16
Leicester Tigers 21 - 21 SaracensLeicester Tigers vs Saracens Report
Wasps 71 - 7 London WelshWasps vs London Welsh Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Ireland 49 - 7 GeorgiaIreland vs Georgia Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , November 15
Sale Sharks 36 - 8 London IrishSale Sharks vs London Irish Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Northampton830
2Exeter828
3Bath828
4Saracens825
5Leicester Tigers821