It’s far too soon to rush Sharks star Curwin Bosch into a frontline role with the Boks, writes CRAIG LEWIS.
Towards the end of March, I wrote that the prodigiously talented Bosch was a rare gem that needed to be handled with care by both the Sharks and SA Rugby going forward.
Since then, Bosch has generally continued to perform with aplomb for the Sharks, while an injury that has ruled Handré Pollard out of the June series against France suddenly seems to have heightened calls for the 19-year-old to be propelled into the Bok setup.
Yet expectations must be surely tempered when it comes to suggesting the teenager is ready to be rushed to the next level.
In these desperate times for SA rugby, the excitement around a raw talent such as Bosch is understandable, but let’s dial it back a bit. There is simply no need to fast-track his progression, and run the risk of breaking his confidence at such a young age.
Make no mistake, Bosch is a player of similar talent to other SA rugby ‘wunderkinds’ such as Pollard, Pat Lambie and Frans Steyn, who all made their Bok debuts at the tender age of 20.
Yet the difference lies in that all of these players served more time at senior level before a national call-up, while they had already proven themselves to be physically up to the task of performing at the highest level.
It’s been clear to see that Bosch still possesses some insecurities when it comes to the contact side of the game, and he has had certain struggles on defence. According to the Opta stats from the first nine rounds of Super Rugby, Bosch has completed 15 tackles, while missing as many as 10 for just a 60% success rate.
This is not to say Bosch can’t develop this aspect of his game after spending more time with conditioning and collision coaches, but it’s also an indication that he is still developing his all-round game.
There is no doubt that the youngster is a very special talent, but he has predominantly played at fullback since leaving school, and cannot yet be regarded as a complete all-round flyhalf.
Let’s provide Bosch with all the time he needs to develop his game through a natural progression, while being managed well enough to continue refining elements of his game that clearly require work.
Just as New Zealand's young superstar Jordie Barrett should be afforded time to make his mark with the Baby Blacks at the U20 World Rugby Championship in June, so Bosch should be allowed to play a leading role for the Junior Boks.
As a rugby nation, let’s encourage the opportunity for Bosch to contest for a world title with the Junior Boks, before returning to complete his first full Super Rugby season with the Sharks. And let’s allow him to gain further experience through another Currie Cup campaign, where he should be directed to specialise in his preferred position.
Bosch’s time in the Bok jersey will surely come. But it’s not now; not yet.
Photo: Anne Laing/HM Images