Through his performances for the Sharks in 2020, Curwin Bosch has earned the opportunity to prove himself on the Test stage, writes DYLAN JACK.
Bosch has taken a major step up in both consistency and temperament this year and the Sharks have reaped the benefits after backing him consistently at flyhalf.
The 23-year-old finished Super Rugby Unlocked as the top points-scorer – albeit pipping veteran Morne Steyn by a solitary point – as the Sharks went into the Currie Cup tied second with the Stormers. He continued that form in the Currie Cup, scoring 15 points through five conversions against the Pumas before his match-winning performance against the Vodacom Bulls in Durban, where he kicked five penalties and a vital touchline conversion to steer the Sharks to victory.
Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber will undoubtedly arrange for a few Test matches before they go into the British & Irish Lions series. There is no way that either he or even SA Rugby director of rugby Rassie Erasmus would allow the team to go into the series cold.
This is good news for players like Bosch, who have been eagerly awaiting an opportunity to prove themselves after the June Tests against Georgia and Scotland were called off due to the Covid-19 pandemic. There is no doubt that Nienaber would have at least used the Test match against Georgia to grow the Springboks’ depth in key positions, such as flyhalf.
The major criticism of Bosch, especially when it comes to considering him as a Test-rugby flyhalf, has always been around his defence. Granted, that is an area that he can improve on, as there is no place to hide players in international fixtures, where weaknesses get ruthlessly exploited.
However, it is something that he has clearly worked hard on already and it shouldn’t take away from what he can offer.
There has been something of a mature edge to Bosch’s performances this year. He very rarely has been rushed for time and looks more like a general in charge of the Sharks backline, rather than a youngster desperate to make a linebreak off every touch of the ball.
Indeed, it is Bosch’s kicking game that has been a major, if at times understated, weapon in the Sharks’ arsenal. This is not only with reference to his goalkicking – although how many players can claim to have slotted a 60m penalty at sea level? – but also to his kicking out of hand which, when combined with a wing with the aerial abilities of Sbu Nkosi, has caused havoc for opposition defences.
‘He is kicking so well at the moment. He is the guy who kept us in the game with those two long-range penalties early in the first half,’ Sharks coach Sean Everitt said after the team’s win over the Bulls. ‘That put our noses in front and the Bulls played a little bit of catch-up. Curwin’s all-round game has improved. Last week, he nearly got a steal in the breakdown. His defence was good. His backfield work has improved immensely.
‘He is certainly running the game like a mature flyhalf should do. He is looking more and more like an international flyhalf and, hopefully, he can continue that performance. This young chap is just growing with confidence and I can’t wait for him to reach his full potential.’
The Sharks are winning games because of Bosch. This was not only shown against the Bulls, against whom he also pulled off what is becoming a trademark crossfield kick for the winning try by Yaw Penxe, but also in Super Rugby Unlocked against the Cheetahs and Griquas.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK | Super Rugby Unlocked Rd 5
A couple of clutch kicks in the final minutes here from your Player of the Week Curwin Bosch as he lifted the @TheSharksZA over the line.#PlayerOfTheWeek #SuperRugby25Years #SuperRugbyUnlocked pic.twitter.com/jz51pROrvU
— Super Rugby/Tri Nations (@SuperRugby) November 11, 2020
This is typically the hallmark of a flyhalf who is ready for the next step in his career. Granted, not every player who shines at domestic level makes it on the Test scene, but this is something we won’t know for sure about Bosch unless he is given a proper opportunity.
Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images