Rassie Erasmus must cut his Springbok squad down to 31 before the World Cup. JOHN GOLIATH looks at five prominent Boks who could miss out on selection.
The talented Stormers kid looked set to pack his bags for Japan after getting some game time in 2018. His versatility makes him the ideal squad member, as he can cover flyhalf, fullback and possible even inside centre in a crisis. However, he hasn’t featured in the Rugby Championship so far after picking up a knee injury in Super Rugby, and there is still no clarity when he will actually be back on the park. Frans Steyn coming back into the Bok mix has also hurt his chances to a degree, as the veteran back can also cover various positions in the backline. Time is running out for the youngster to show his worth.
Lood de Jager
This is actually unthinkable, but not entirely out of the realms of possibility. De Jager has played some of the best rugby of his life over the last few years, but haven’t been able to get a nice run of matches going because of various injuries. He recently returned to rugby for the Vodacom Blue Bulls against Western Province, before having a top outing against the Wallabies at Ellis Park. But he could be the first lock cut – mostly because of fitness issues – if Erasmus decides to go with an extra loose forward and only three locks, with Pieter-Steph du Toit covering both positions. It’s unlikely, but certainly not out of the question.
If Erasmus does head to the World Cup with four locks, then Coetzee will more than likely miss the flight to Japan. Coetzee is essentially fighting for a place in the side against Kwagga Smith and Siya Kolisi. The latter, if fit, will captain the Boks in Japan, while Smith’s performance in Wellington could go along away in securing his place in the squad. But what does count in Coetzee’s favour is that he can play at No 6 and 7. Smith is essentially just an opensider. Coetzee has two more matches before the World Cup to audition for a place in the squad, after only getting a run in the second half against the Wallabies.
This is another player who could be a surprise omission in the Bok squad. Nkosi is a lethal finisher and has really showed his worth at this level since getting his chance in 2018. However, with Cheslin Kolbe now Erasmus’ preferred right wing, it could be difficult for Nkosi to make the squad if the Springbok coach only takes three wings along to Japan. Aphiwe Dyantyi and Makazole Mapimpi are the preferred left wings at the moment, while Willie le Roux and Jesse Kriel can help out in the No 14 jersey if needed.
Tighthead prop is one of the most competitive positions in the Springbok squad at the moment and one prominent member of the front-row union is going to stay at home. Malherbe is a fine player and a powerful operator in the scrum. However, he has lost some of his spark around the park, mainly because of a lack of game time due to various injuries over the last couple of years. He played well against the All Blacks, before conceding a scrum penalty in the second half. Vincent Koch and Trevor Nyakane are playing very good rugby, though, and are dynamic around the park. But Malherbe is an experienced campaigner, and probably one of first guys you would pick to scrum for your life.
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