Toulouse forward, Cheslin Kolbe has emerged as a real possibility to replace injured coach Brian Bossel in the South African national team. The Springboks will play their quarter final against Australia in the next week and it is expected that both have agreed to stay for the semi-finals and beyond. With the news that Toulouse have offered their top player Kolb their international retirement, many wonder if this is the right move by Toulouse given the current state of the team. Would replacing a player such as Bossel who is universally adored by the Springboks be the right move by Toulouse?
Although Toulouse would certainly like to sign up the services of the world cup winner, they would rather not have to if they do not feel they could compete financially with other top sides in Europe. Toulouse sporting director Flavio Di Vaio was quoted on the ESPN radio after the world cup semi final as saying that they were not in the running for either Meschke or Kolb and will look to sign talented players who can contribute to their team. Di Vaio did admit though that it may be difficult to get both players signed up with the French club. "Cheslin is obviously an outstanding player, and we want to keep him but it is going to be difficult. We have many good players at Toulouse, including myself, but obviously there will come a point when we have to say goodbye to some of the players, because it is part of the business".
Toulouse sporting director Di Vaio did however stress the importance of giving youngsters such as Cheslin their chance. "When young players are given a chance, they become mature-minded and they understand what is expected from them. When young players are given a chance they prove that they can make things happen", he said. He went on to praise both players and said that he felt good that Toulouse had managed to sign two world class players. "Cheslin is a winner and has a very good attitude, so he represents us exactly the way we want to represent ourselves", he said.
Capped 95 times for the Springboks, and having scored two tries in the last quarter, it seems certain that Cussler is destined to join the coaching staff of the Springboks once he retires. Then at least we will have one of the best centre options available. In the meantime though we can enjoy watching forwards such as openside flanker Bakkies Donan-Davies and lock flanker Frans De Lux and centre backs such as Will Davies, du Preele, Jaco Burger and Ruan Spear.
In terms of numbers the team has a healthy competition level in their pool, and the obvious starting option in the absence of injured stars is hooker Ngani Mills. Also likely to be retained is scrumhalf Luke Hamilton and flyhalf Maksekaranian Nosekolo. It is expected that both will start in the Tests this year, with openside flanker Eben Ezego making a rare appearance at scrum against the British and Irish. Back rower Anton Oliveros, scrumhalf Linderick-Ebb and lock Michael Smith are all set to miss the Tests, while hooker Jaco Burger will miss the four Tests due to injury. The emergence of James Cook as a potential halfback for the Springboks has also sparked a bidding war for the right flanker position between him and fellow hooker Linderick-Ebb. If Cook does win the position, it will provide a huge boost to South Africa's World Cup team plans, as they look towards the four nations after missing the last four Tests.
Finally, Toulouse expects the Test schedule to be altered ahead of the Tests due to the bad weather which will be expected in the run up to the World Cup. They face the Welsh Dragons next and the Western Force then, before travelling to their hosts England next. It should be a fine contest for the French region, who have never won a Test series at Toulouse and this year looks in danger of slipping down the ladder. Therefore I wouldn't put it past them to win the four Tests and lift the French trophy, but it does feel like the season may be slipping away from them already.
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