Allister Coetzee. Picture: REUTERS
- Allister Coetzee. Picture: REUTERS

The 33-man squad of Springbok coach Allister Coetzee for the Rugby Championship was just about as good as he could do under the circumstances, with few surprises and only minor shock-value omissions.

Lions wing Ruan Combrinck’s absence was the biggest surprise, although Coetzee may have seen something in his defence that nagged at the back of his mind.

In the Super Rugby semifinal against the Hurricanes and particularly in the final against the Crusaders‚ the New Zealanders attacked the Lions’ right flank mercilessly. Crusaders left wing Seta Tamanivalu spent most of the opening half-hour of the final probing and making yards down that flank.

As the squad was probably finalised before the Super Rugby final to eliminate emotional decisions based on performances in a single game, Combrinck’s omission puzzles.

His 2017 Super Rugby stats make decent reading, considering he missed a large part of the campaign due to injury. Combrinck scored five tries‚ made 10 line breaks and five tackle breaks and only missed five tackles all season.

Throw in a strong boot and the ability to kick for goal and his squad absence is curious, especially when it is weighed up against incumbent right wing, Raymond Rhule. The Cheetahs flyer missed 38 tackles in Super Rugby — the most by any player in the competition.

He also made 37 handling errors and does not have a tactical kicking game to speak of.

Coetzee will engage with the media this week, but so far there has been no clarity on what abilities and criteria the coach used when considering his options.

But the Bok coach did leave the door open for players who missed out on selection to find their way into the squad. "Some players have initially missed out on selection due to various reasons‚ but this squad is not cast in stone and changes can be made as we progress through the tournament‚" Coetzee said on Saturday.

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Springbok squad. Forwards: Uzair Cassiem‚ Lood de Jager‚ Dan du Preez‚ Jean-Luc du Preez‚ Pieter-Steph du Toit‚ Eben Etzebeth‚ Lizo Gqoboka‚ Steven Kitshoff‚ Siya Kolisi‚ Jaco Kriel‚ Frans Malherbe‚ Malcolm Marx‚ Bongi Mbonambi‚ Teboho Mohoje‚ Franco Mostert‚ Tendai Mtawarira‚ Trevor Nyakane‚ Coenie Oosthuizen‚ Chiliboy Ralepelle. Backs: Curwin Bosch‚ Andries Coetzee‚ Ross Cronje‚ Damian de Allende‚ Warrick Gelant‚ Francois Hougaard‚ Elton Jantjies‚ Jesse Kriel‚ Dillyn Leyds‚ Rudy Paige‚ Handré Pollard‚ Raymond Rhule‚ Jan Serfontein‚ Courtnall Skosan‚ Francois Venter

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