Victor, Fourie put Boks first

I am sure Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer wasn't really surprised to learn that Fourie du Preez made himself available to play for his country, but more that the gifted scrumhalf was backing someone else for the Bok No 9 jersey!

This follows speculation on whether Meyer will use the services of Du Preez for the England series, something that is still not clear and the continued uncertainty on the availability of the Suntory scrumhalf, something that was cleared up this week.

When Meyer started his camps and media sessions, he made it clear that he only wanted what was best for the Boks. He also indicated that if that means that he needed to start with a bunch of overseas-based Boks and Victor Matfield as captain, so be it.

His first job was to get the Boks winning every Test match and he was comfortable that he had the means and players to do it.

Of course there was a massive outcry.

'Matfield is too old and retired... and Du Preez not good enough anymore' people proclaimed.

These sentiments or opinions could of course not be verified unless both the former Boks actually played and performed badly.

The proof would've been in the pudding, but few were prepared to allow Meyer serve that dish, let alone allow him in the kitchen.

During all of this, Matfield and Du Preez said nothing. They had their private chats and discussions with Meyer, but true to character, they revealed nothing.

Instead, they had to suck it up, in forums like these, listening to and reading the opinions of so many pundits, most of them reacting negatively to their possible return.

Their talks with Meyer would have been about the best way forward for the Boks and the country. It would have been about the best way to beat England and what combinations would be best suited to edge out the visitors from Queen’s country.

I can almost guarantee that never, in any of those discussions, did Du Preez or Matfield push themselves as contenders to play in those Tests.

Meyer wants Francois Hougaard on the wing and Du Preez at scrumhalf, but Du Preez would have pushed for Hougaard at No 9 then as he did yesterday.

It would be easy for Matfield, if he was selfish, to say "yes" to Meyer, play in the three Tests and in the process pass John Smit’s record as the most capped Bok in Test history.
This could add another "zero" to any corporate speaking engagement fee, it could probably sell another book and will or course put him on top of a very, very special Springbok record.

Du Preez could also commit for a year and in doing so, get to that exclusive 100-Test club.

But that is not what or who they are.

Du Preez this week considered all options before making his intentions clear.

Despite the knowledge that Meyer wanted him, he wanted Suntory to be 100% happy with that. Let us not forget, he earns a small fortune as a Sungoliath player and he felt that he would not be able to deliver on what he promised when he signed on two years ago.

Du Preez announced way back then that he was moving to Japan, a move that enabled the Bulls to start with succession plans. Hougaard was signed for a couple more seasons and Jano Vermaak was lured from the Lions. Everything would've finished perfectly with the Boks winning the Rugby World Cup again.

However, that fateful result in Wellington in the quarter-finals against Australia has left deep scars for the likes of Du Preez and Matfield.

Fiercely competitive and proud Springboks, that was not the way they wanted to finish. Yet, they made commitments to Suntory and SuperSport and moved on.

Knowing them too well, Meyer realised the open wound and being the motivator that he is, probably pushed a couple of buttons that stirred something inside their competitive beings.

Du Preez was silent for a long time and finally spoke from the heart. We now know where he stands. If he does answer when duty calls, let us respect him for that. His actions in the last couple of weeks deserve that. And let us leave comments on his play until after he actually plays.
That is only fair, is it not? After all, he cares just as much about the Boks as any of us.

Read JJ every Sunday in Rapport.

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Lionel Kemm 2012/05/10 10:30:56 AM
What are these forums for if we not allowed to air our views??? I still think Vic should enjoy retirement and Fourie to go back to Japan,my opinion!!!!!!!
Azure Phoenix 2012/05/10 10:39:11 AM
As Matfield of Du Preez vir enige ander span gespeel het, wat nie die Bulls was nie, so Harmse ook gesê het hulle moet nie speel nie. Wat van Naas Botha, Frik Du Preez en Uli Schmidt, moet hulle ook terug kom? BLUE PHOENIX GROETE!
Charles Dumbwin 2012/05/10 10:51:51 AM
I really hope that common sense prevails here. Bring in the old guard to help advise and guide and younsters, but THEY MUST NOT play in the actual Bok squad. The 2007 club is over, let's move on and build a really strong, young team for 2015.
Jco van Rooyen 2012/05/10 11:02:42 AM
My question, who determines if a player is to old? Is it us or is it the player? Terblanche played for the Sharks till he was 36 I think and my goodness he was far better and fitter than all the youngsters. What about Os du Randt, he was also 'old' according our standards, but wow, he was still grinding the youngsters in the ground. What about AJ Venter and Mark Williams, they were deep in the thirties. What about the All Blacks lock who won the World Cup last year, he was 35 and played now in England and is 36! Still beating the crapp out of the youngsters! When is a player to old? I see players 26-30 year old that act far worst on the field than some 30-35 year old players! No heart, unfit and just do not have the heart!
Trevor Kent 2012/05/10 11:02:58 AM
They have commited themselves to their future, leave them alone we are proud for they had done thanks guys We have players working through the super rugby season and at top form they are your new boks, 4 years to the world cup lets go with with fresh young talent. Not as the last world cup.
jacques.vanrooyen.524 2012/05/10 11:31:50 AM
Put Boks first.I think we are a very proud rugby nation and hate to loose.Heyneke must do what is right for S.A.We have the players to do S.A. proud and if the younger players play they can only learn and gain experiance.If we loose a game or two because of them playing we can always adjust.Give our current players the chance to proof to us they good enough to play for the Boks.If Mattfield and di Preez were thinking they still right for the challenge they would have continue to play for our teams.After all they have give way.
Neutedop Opinie 2012/05/10 11:33:31 AM
So either Meyer is another Pieter de Villiers: Speaking before thinking (or speaking to the players), or those 2 did think about it. I mean, if they never gave it a thought, why took so long to say it out loud in public? They first saw what's in it for them. So JJ - see it as you want, your favourite sons did not do what was best for Springbok rugby from the word your pathetic PR job wants us to believe. Which one was it? HM opening his mouth to soon (and these days waaaay to many times-before he coach his first test) or did Vic and Fourie first see what they would have gotten out of the deal?
Hanno Uys 2012/05/10 11:39:30 AM
Fair enough on Fourie du Preez, but Victor is not even playing right now, du Preez at least is. Victor should not make a comeback, it's too late now for him, with one month to go, to get match fit again.
John Comyn 2012/05/10 11:50:36 AM
You almost have me in tears JJ. Keep it real man! He left for the money & is back for the money and glory that goes with playing for the Boks and there’s nothing wrong with that. If you are looking for a martyr try Jacques Fourie. I think people are entitled to their opinion. After all it is a forum where one is allowed too. For the record I agree on FDP making a come back (not as captain). In MY OPINION he is nowhere near ready for retirement and he is still the best we have. Hougaardt is not the finished product and I doubt he will ever be as good as DuPreez or Joost for that matter.
chuck12 2012/05/10 12:04:05 PM