Vodacom Bulls lock Ruan Nortje should start alongside Eben Etzebeth for the Springboks against Wales in the July series, according to former Lions coach Johan Ackermann.
Nortje’s performances for the Bulls in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship – most recently against Wales stalwart Alun Wyn Jones for Ospreys on Friday – have placed him firmly in the Bok mix for his first call-up.
The 23-year-old’s physicality, lineout efficiency and tireless work ethic echo Bok workhorse Franco Mostert’s, and who better to make a comparison than Ackermann, who coached Mostert at the Lions for several seasons.
“He works just as hard as Sous [Mostert] on the field. He is agile and skilled and it looks like Ruan is not getting tired,” Ackermann, who now coaches in Japan, told Netwerk24.
“It was never necessary for me to talk to Franco, because you know he will bring his side. Ruan is also not afraid to make contact and he is a very similar player [to Mostert]. He really impresses me a lot and he looks like a player you can go to war with.
“I say this with all due respect to Wales, because you never know what will happen, but I will choose Ruan next to locks like Eben Etzebeth or Lood de Jager.
“You can see that Ruan is not someone who will let you down and the Boks will be able to expand their player pool.
“Rugby is unpredictable and we could lose two of our locks before the World Cup with injuries. Then Ruan had already played three or four Tests by that time.”