Jean de Villiers says Johan Goosen has not “shown enough” to start ahead of Damian Willemse at flyhalf for the Springboks on the end-of-year tour.
Goosen is the only player designated as a specialist flyhalf in a 26-man Bok squad for a three-day training camp to prepare for the November tour of the northern hemisphere.
The 30-year-old returned after a long-term injury for the Vodacom Bulls in the 2022-23 season, and speaking on a Vodacom United Rugby Championship media call on Tuesday, former Springbok captain De Villiers was concerned whether the 13-Test-capped playmaker is the answer to a pressing issue for Jacques Nienaber at No 10.
“I don’t think Goosen has shown enough. Certainly, his form before his injury was fantastic, but I don’t think he has shown the same form coming back yet,” De Villiers said. “The current form of the Bulls also hasn’t helped.
“If you had to go into a game tomorrow, I would go with Damian Willemse at 10, and Willie le Roux at 15. I just like the balance that that brings to the team. Yes, the one has 10 on his back and the other 15, but they can interlink and change over in that position, which I think really helps.
“Also you have that left-right combination in terms of kicking if you want to kick off 10. And defensively Damian is really strong in that channel … and from an attacking point of view, depending on where you are on the field, they can interchange.”
The 109-Test Bok believes Nienaber will look to veteran Frans Steyn to back up Willemse off the bench, along with Faf de Klerk, with Goosen likely to feature against Italy on the four-match tour.
De Villiers added: “10 is the biggest-worry position from a South African point of view. [Handre] Pollard being injured, Willemse that can do a job there, but I’m still of the view that 12 is his best position.
“And then it’s kind of what is next? I don’t think it’s right to include Elton Jantjies in that set-up as he needs to sort out his personal life and, in my opinion, that’s way more important than rugby.
“Flyhalf is the position where not a lot of answers were given throughout the Rugby Championship, and definitely going into the tour that’s going to be a big concern.
“Even though the Springboks kick a lot off of nine, you do need that general to take control of the game, and even more when you play up north. So, that’s one big red flag. We are very limited at 10 at the moment and long term they’ll probably go with Goosen; whether they go with him now already …”