Pieter de Villiers announced his preliminary squad of 51 (yes, you read that correctly: fifty-one) players for the World Cup Springbok team. Touted as a “planning session” he pretty much included every single player who has ever sniffed a rugby ball and a few who had merely been acquainted with a rugby ball by virtue of seeking out a boerie roll on a Saturday afternoon.
One shock omission was notable in PdV’s announcement: no Bheki Cele. Better known for his day job work as the National Commissioner of the South African Police, Bheki Cele was widely touted by knowledgeable media types as a possible solution to the Bok’s problems in the tight five.
With a face that would scare small children (and by logical extension Australian front rowers), Cele was a hot tip to be selected for his physical presence. The thinking being that this burly fellow walking out of the tunnel at Loftus might cause a few opponents to wet their pants on the ten metre line.
He had also been putting in the hard publicity yards with the press too with a few brash statements. With quotable quotes like “shoot to kill” and “scrumming is the new rolling maul” he was making a name for himself both in the media and in pubs around the republic.
PdV has selected pretty much the entire country in his training squad. But in leaving Cele out, he has missed a trick in being able to call on a Chabal-like who figure, who could be the team’s show pony and a child scarer combined.
On a slightly more serious note – there is absolutely nothing to say about PdV’s “Bok squad” despite what you may read on other sites. When you pick fifty-one players you haven’t picked a squad – you’ve just sent a message to the one guy who wasn’t included. In this case – the South African police commissioner.