SARugbymag.co.za looks at the Springboks’ scrumhalf options for the upcoming World Cup in Japan.
Faf de Klerk
The man so easily recognised by his mop of flash, blonde hair is the Springboks’ incumbent No 9. He played there under Allister Coetzee and now under Rassie Erasmus – that is not a coincidence. De Klerk is perhaps the one Springbok who has been performing at the peak of his powers for the past 18 months without a dip in form. He has had several different backup No 9s, including Ross Cronje, Louis Schreuder, Ivan van Zyl and Embrose Papier, all whom have since left the national set-up. De Klerk is the Springboks’ talisman and his performance at the World Cup will be integral to the team’s progression in the competition. The 27-year-old has scored three tries in 25 Tests, but is the key weapon in South Africa’s attacking arsenal. A fired-up De Flerk, playing with the same confidence and exuberance as for the Sale Sharks this past season, could be the difference between South Africa and the rest at this World Cup.
Herschel Jantjies has had a breakthrough season of note. Having operated as backup scrumhalf throughout Western Province’s 2018 Currie Cup campaign, Jantjies established himself at the Stormers’ first-choice No 9 in Vodacom Super Rugby before bursting on to the international scene with two extraordinary performances against the Wallabies and All Blacks in the Rugby Championship. Despite only standing at 1.67m tall and weighing in at 78kg, Jantjies has proven himself a more than a capable defender, to go with his excellent reading of the game, hard running, quick service and accurate tactical kicking. It is expected that coach Rassie Erasmus will persist with his selection of Jantjies as De Klerk’s deputy at the World Cup, given that 23-year-old has shown he is more than capable of performing at a high level in tension-filled, pressure situations.
It could probably be argued that the selection of Cobus Reinach as the third scrumhalf means South Africa have unrivalled depth in the position as they enter the World Cup. Reinach has been the top performing scrumhalf in the English Premiership for quite some time before De Klerk joined Sale to rival him for that status. His consistent energetic showings have, for example, left both England scrumhalves Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers) and Willi Heinz (Gloucester) in his wake. Admittedly the dynamics will be different at the World Cup because they play with different teammates. But the raw pace, unbridled passion and improving kicking game of Reinach could prove to be the decisive ace up the Springboks’ sleeve.