The European Champions Cup and Challenge Cup playoffs sets the local franchises on a collision course with overseas-based Springboks.
SARugbymag.co.za looks at the Bok players who will be powering the northern challenge this weekend.
? TIME FOR THE KNOCKOUTS ?
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) March 27, 2023
Sharks vs Munster (Saturday, Durban 1.30pm): RG Snyman
Currently, the only South African international based in Munster, RG Snyman has emerged from a dark tunnel of long-term injuries to give the Irish outfit a timely boost.
Snyman made his long-awaited return to roaring applause from the Munster fans in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship clash with Scarlets earlier in March.
The World Cup winner had spent the past 17 months on the sidelines recovering from the second of the knee ligament injuries he had suffered since joining Munster in 2020.
At his best, the giant second rower is a force of nature when carrying the ball, while he also presents a massive threat at lineouts.
— Munster Rugby (@Munsterrugby) March 3, 2023
DHL Stormers vs Harlequins (Saturday, Cape Town, 4pm): Andre Esterhuizen, Stephan Lewies and Wilco Louw
One-cap Springbok Stephan Lewies captains a Harlequins side featuring two more South African internationals in Andre Esterhuizen and Wilco Louw.
Since moving to London from Durban, Lewies has only enhanced his reputation as a street-smart lineout operator and excellent leader in a powerful Harlequins pack, powered by former Stormers tighthead prop Louw.
Meanwhile, former Sharks centre Esterhuizen will pose a big challenge with his powerful carries from first phase, as well as his ability to put his teammates into space.
? Delicious Andre Esterhuizen offload! pic.twitter.com/hT9XAD1sHM
— Jared Wright (@jaredwright17) February 17, 2023
We have got some visitors from London in town this weekend. Some of them we know better than others?????????
Help us welcome them to Cape Town at DHL Stadium on Saturday for ⛈️ v ?
— DHL Stormers (@THESTORMERS) March 27, 2023
Lions vs Racing 92 (Saturday, Johannesburg, 6.30pm): Trevor Nyakane and Warrick Gelant
The Lions welcome French giants Racing 92 to Johannesburg in a Challenge Cup last-16 match and will have to keep their eyes on two high-profile Springboks.
Able to play on both sides of the scrum, veteran prop Nyakane will challenge the Lions in one of their traditional strengths.
Meanwhile, a fit-again Gelant, who made his return from injury from the bench this past weekend, is deadly on the counter attack, while the Lions’ outside backs will have to be wary of his kicking game.
Men in blue?⚪️
Great derby yesterday. Happy with the W.
— Warrick Gelant (@WarrickGelant) March 27, 2023
Toulouse vs Vodacom Bulls (Sunday, Toulouse, 4pm): Rynhardt Elstadt
The Vodacom Bulls face arguably their toughest challenge of the season when they travel to take on a strong Toulouse side in the Champions Cup.
Four-cap Springbok forward Rynhardt Elstadt is the only South African in Toulouse’s squad, having joined from the Stormers in 2017.
Never one to grab the headlines, Elstadt does the donkey work for his side and has been a central player in Toulouse’s Top 14 title win in 2019 and their league and Champions Cup double in 2021. His good work has continued this season, as Toulouse have topped the league table for most of the campaign and won all four of their Champions Cup pool fixtures.