Five players with big Bok opportunities

As the Boks prepare to head off on their end-of-year tour, CRAIG LEWIS identifies five players who will have plenty to gain in the UK.

Aphelele Fassi

The 23-year-old has featured twice for the Boks this year, starting on the wing against Georgia and Argentina. On each occasion he was one of the Springboks’ standout players. After such a compelling start to his international career, it’s understandable that there has been heightened calls for him to feature in a high-profile Test, and possibly in his preferred position of fullback. It remains to be seen if his integration into Test rugby will continue on the wing, but he is surely in line to receive more game time at some point on the end-of-year tour, and it should serve to further kickstart a highly promising international career.

Cobus Reinach

Considering Faf de Klerk is set to miss the UK tour due to a hip injury, a big opportunity presents itself for Reinach to step into a frontline role. It can’t be forgotten that Reinach started the decisive third Test against the British & Irish Lions when De Klerk was injured, with the Bok coaches highlighting that he was the most like-for-like replacement, while Herschel Jantjies remained on the bench. If this remains the case, Reinach could be in for an extended run at No 9.

ALSO READ: De Klerk set to miss end-of-year tour

Kwagga Smith

The dynamic former sevens star was one of the unsung heroes in the memorable back-to-back Tests against the All Blacks, and is likely to continue starting at blindside flank. The extended absence of Pieter-Steph du Toit has been a blow for the Boks this year, but it has provided plenty of exposure for Smith in a position at No 7 where many might have felt he wasn’t best suited. In wintery northern-hemisphere conditions, it will be fascinating to see how the 28-year-old continues to progress on the Test stage.

Salmaan Moerat

The abrasive Stormers lock continues to come of age, and is expected to be one of the newcomers added to the Bok squad for the outgoing tour. It won’t be easy for him to break into the match-day 23 considering Eben Etzebeth, Lood de Jager and Franco Mostert are among the game’s leading locks. However, Moerat still has plenty to gain by being part of the Bok group and learning from that trio of world-class players, while there is also a very good chance he could make a highly anticipated Test debut.

Joseph Dweba

The 25-year-old has understandably had very limited game-day opportunities in his first full season with the Boks. That’s a natural consequence of being in a team that boasts high-quality hookers such as Bongi Mbonambi and Malcolm Marx. However, if the Boks are viewing the end-of-year tour as an opportunity to continue expanding their depth, it would be good to see Dweba unleashed for another Test appearance. He was extremely impressive on debut against Argentina in mid-August, and there will be plenty to gain should he get another run against Scotland, Wales or England.


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