The Derek Alberts Column: My Springbok Dream Team continued
There's less than a month to go before the Rugby World Cup kicks off, and I continue the countdown of my Springbok Dream Team - a selection of the best Boks to have done duty in tournaments past.
A quick reminder about the rules:
The selections are only based on a player's performance at a World Cup, nothing outside of that. And a player can only be selected into a position which he occupied at a previous tournament.
Just a quick recap of my team so far:
- Percy Montgomery
- JP Pietersen
- Japie Mulder
- Francois Steyn
- Bryan Habana
- Joel Stransky
Stransky will forever be remembered as the man who won the Springboks their first ever World Cup thanks to his inch-perfect drop kick in extra-time against the All Blacks, and rightly so, but few recall just how good a tournament he had outside of that one moment. Of course the drop-kick was his second of the match, having earlier succeeded with an attempt in the first half, while his three successful penalties ensured that he contributed all of the points in the 15-12 victory.
He scored a total of 61 points in that tournament, having played in five of the Boks' six matches, his haul including thirteen penalties, four conversions, three drop-goals and a vital try against the Wallabies in the opening match at Newlands. Stransky faced stiff opposition from the likes of Butch James and Jannie de Beer, whose world record five drop-kicks against England at the 1999 quarter-final is unlikely to ever be bettered, but it's hard to deny the 48-year-old his place in the spotlight, especially given the fact that he disobeyed team orders when he went for the winning drop against New Zealand. It proved to be the most significant single kick in World Cup history, no matter what England fans tell you.
- Joost van der Westhuizen
The man who delivered the pass to Stransky stands alongside him in the line-up. Joost van der Westhuizen is regarded as one of the greatest scrumhalves to have ever played the game, and was easily the world's best in 1995, but this selection was far tougher than expected, given that Fourie du Preez could easily have been described as South Africa's player of the tournament in 2007. There's very little to choose between the two, so like Japie Mulder's selection, I'll base it on sentiment, and another tackle on Jonah Lomu.
All eyes were on Lomu in that final, and it wasn't long before he made his presence felt, taking an inside pass from Andrew Mehrtens on the halfway line at full speed before bursting through South Africa's defence to leave Stransky clutching at air. Andre Joubert was expected to be the last line of defence, and while he was certainly better than Mike Catt, few would bet against the giant winger scoring with acres of space in front of him and just one man to beat. Enter van der Westhuizen, who stepped into the breach and stopped Lomu in his tracks with a remarkable tackle. Van der Westhuizen of course is currently suffering from the debilitating Motor Neuron Disease and Lomu recently paid a visit to the former scrumhalf in South Africa, the Kiwi himself having had persistent problems with his kidneys since his playing days. During their catch-up, Lomu described the moment Joost tackled him, saying he was certain that the try was his, until the number nine showed up.
- Os du Randt
Only six players have won the World Cup twice, and Os Du Randt is the only non-Australian to do so. While eight years separated the likes of John Eales and Tim Horan's first and second World Cup victories, Du Randt waited twelve years before he got to lift the Webb Ellis Cup again. Rassie Erasmus pulled Du Randt out of retirement in 2003, and while the 1995 World Cup winner vowed to only play provincial rugby upon his return, Jake White convinced him otherwise. He formed a vital part of White's team in 2007, was named man of the match in the semi-final victory over Argentina and played the full 80 minutes in the win over England in the final.
Du Randt's first World Cup triumph came at the age of 22, his second at 35. Legend.
- John Smit
As was the case with Du Randt and Habana's selections, this was a no-brainer. John Smit was colossal in the Boks' success in France, and was the perfect man to captain the team. He was likeable, gregarious, and diplomatic, but most importantly, he could play. Like his opposite number in the Proteas side at the time, Graeme Smith, Smit was often under-appreciated in his own country, while players, teams and fans from beyond our borders held him in the highest regard. He was an old-school hooker in that he was extremely physical, and while he wasn't the quickest around the park, it hardly mattered, given the Boks' abundance of world-class loose-forwards. Smit too was world-class and easily secures the number two jersey as well as the armband.
- Balie Swart
A far more difficult decision this one, but I've selected Balie Swart, if only for his performance in that 1995 Semi-final win over France at a soaking wet Kings Park in Durban. With a minute to go, the Boks held a four point lead but France had them under immense pressure with a scrum on their own 5-metre line. Swart was down after suffering a torn rib cartilage, but was quickly picked up by the collar by his good friend Kobus Wiese, who screamed these immortal words to the prop: 'You can go up, and you can go down, but you're not coming back!' Of course Wiese was simply reassuring Swart that the lock had his back, but the number three played his role too, as the Bok scrum held its own, allowing Stransky to kick the ball into touch and send his side into the final.
That's it for now, with just the second row and loose-trio left. Who would you go for? Let me know on Twitter _ @derekalberts1_
Derek Alberts is a sports anchor at Eyewitness News.