• Part 1: Saffas abroad to watch

    SARugbymag.co.za looks at which South African players will soon be back in action as overseas competitions start resuming from August.

    ENGLISH PREMIERSHIP (14 August)

    The 2019-20 Premiership season will resume on 14 August when Harlequins host the second-placed Sale Sharks and will conclude with the final scheduled for 24 October.

    This means that there will be plenty of action as clubs will have to prepare for midweek fixtures and fixture turnaround times of around four days.

    The Exeter Chiefs are currently five points clear of the Sharks at the top of the table, with the Bristol Bears and Northampton Saints occupying the other two playoff places.

    ALSO READ: England-based Saffas set for imminent action

    The Chiefs have two South Africans in their pack. Former Sharks loose-forward Jacques Vermeulen has been in career-best form since moving to England for the current season, with a 91% tackle success rate. Likewise, Jannes Kirsten, who joined from the Vodacom Bulls, has been a major part of the team’s drive to the top, putting in some solid performances at lock.

    Meanwhile, there will be plenty for South Africans to enjoy when watching the Sale Sharks – who have the largest contingent of South African players of any of the Premiership teams. Springbok scrumhalf Faf de Klerk will resume his halfback partnership with Robert du Preez, who is currently the third-highest top-scorer for the season with 116 points.

    Rohan Janse van Rensburg has been using his frame to good effect in midfield, with 47 defenders beaten so far (rank 5). Sharks captain Jono Ross has also been in top form this season, leading the tackle count with 201.

    The Du Preez twins – Jean-Luc and Daniel – have taken to the Premiership with ease. Jean-Luc has interestingly played more at lock this season, but could shift back to flank with Lood de Jager returning to fitness and the recent signing of former Stormers player Cobus Wiese. Former Sharks and Lions hooker Akker van der Merwe and tighthead prop Coenie Oosthuizen can both expect to get more game time with the condensed fixture list.

    Speaking of signings, Harlequins used the enforced break to recruit a trio of top South Africans. Springboks Andre Esterhuizen and Wilco Louw were both joined by former Lions back Tyrone Green in moving to London. However, with South Africa still in lockdown, it remains to be seen if the three players will be able to fly out and be available for selection.

    At the other end of the table, even though Saracens have been relegated, they will be looking for a strong finish to the season. Captain Brad Barritt recently signed a short-term extension to ensure that he will be with the club until season’s end before he concludes his 13-year career in the red and black. Bok tighthead Vincent Koch will also be in action, even though he has been linked with a return to South Africa.

    Photo: Alex Livesey/Getty Images

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    Dylan Jack