JON CARDINELLI shines the spotlight on Springboks competing in the Currie Cup who may come into World Cup-squad contention in the event of injuries.
Rassie Erasmus has taken an extended squad overseas for the two-game tour of New Zealand and Argentina. While only 31 players will feature in the final World Cup squad – which will be announced at the end of August – a larger group of players is currently in camp in New Zealand.
Several more Boks are making their way back from serious injury. Sikhumbuzo Notshe featured for Western Province recently, while Siya Kolisi and Damian Willemse could get a run in the Currie Cup in the coming weeks.
There are several other players who may come into the World Cup reckoning in the event of injuries. SARugbymag.co.za considers the players competing in the Currie Cup who have played for Erasmus before and may yet feature in Japan.
CURWIN BOSCH (SHARKS)
Bosch hasn’t played for the Boks since starting at fullback against Wales last June. While he was impressive for the Sharks in the recent Vodacom Super Rugby tournament, slotting in at No 10 as well as at 15, he didn’t crack the nod when Erasmus announced his first training squad of the season.
Bosch could add value as a utility player at the World Cup. Erasmus has made it clear that he wants a third flyhalf in the group of 31 – with Handré Pollard and Elton Jantjies the established first- and second-choice options – who can also cover fullback.
Willemse played that utility role for the Boks last year. After sustaining a serious injury toward the end of the Super Rugby season, however, Willemse may be replaced by Frans Steyn, Dillyn Leyds or even Bosch in this respect.
DILLYN LEYDS (WP)
Leyds didn’t play for the Boks in 2018 and was a surprise inclusion when Erasmus named his squad ahead of the 2019 season. The versatile player was selected in the match 23 for the opening Rugby Championship Test against the Wallabies in Johannesburg.
Leyds didn’t get on to the field at Ellis Park and was subsequently released to play for WP. And yet it’s clear that Erasmus may consider the player somewhere down the line.
He’s played fullback, wing and even flyhalf for the Stormers and WP and can be devastating in broken play. He may not be at the front of the utility back queue, but injuries to others could well boost his World Cup chances.
WILCO LOUW (WP)
Louw was a regular in the Bok match 23 in 2017 and 2018. Vincent Koch’s return from the international wilderness, however, as well as Trevor Nyakane’s consistent performances in the Super Rugby tournament have had Louw dropping out of the greater Bok squad.
Louw is one of South Africa’s premier scrummagers and would be an asset to the Boks at a tournament where set-piece dominance is key. The Boks battled at the scrum last week, and appeared to stabilise when Nyakane replaced first-choice No 3 Frans Malherbe. Will Erasmus reconsider Louw as an option going forward?
Two tightheads will travel to Japan, as well as one swing prop. With regard to the latter, Nyakane has the ability to pack down at loosehead and tighthead, and Thomas du Toit is another who can play both positions.
If Malherbe doesn’t produce an improved showing in the coming weeks, we may well see the likes of Du Toit and Louw pushing for a place in a World Cup front-row group that includes Koch and Nyakane.
MARVIN ORIE (GOLDEN LIONS)
Orie has been on the fringe for some time. Like Bosch, he featured against Wales in the USA last June. He earned his second Test cap against Australia in Johannesburg two weeks ago, and was recently recalled to the Bok camp ahead of their final Rugby Championship clash with Argentina.
The Boks are spoiled for choice at lock. Indeed, with Pieter-Steph du Toit providing a further second-row option, Erasmus may decide to take three locks instead of four to the World Cup. In that event, one of Eben Etzebeth, Lood de Jager, RG Snyman and Franco Mostert would miss out.
Erasmus may not want to use Du Toit at lock unless he absolutely has to, though. And if one of the four frontline specialists breaks down between now and the World Cup, Orie may be asked to fill the void.
EMBROSE PAPIER (VODACOM BLUE BULLS)
The Boks put a lot of time and energy into developing Papier into a World Cup option. The scrumhalf was poorly managed over the course of the 2018 Super Rugby season, though, and wasn’t among the three No 9s selected for the Rugby Championship.
As things stand, Faf de Klerk, Cobus Reinach and Herschel Jantjies look set to travel to Japan as the three scrumhalves in the group of 31. Jantjies has made a big impact since his debut two weeks ago.
One injury, however, and Erasmus may recall Papier or Ivan van Zyl to provide cover.
Photo: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images