Franco Mostert is one of the Springboks’ most underrated players and would be fully deserving of a starting berth against the British & Irish Lions, writes CRAIG LEWIS.
When I put together the player ratings for the Boks’ recent warm-up Test against Georgia, Mostert was handed a 7/10, while I suggested we might as well rename him Mr Work Rate.
At the best of times, ratings conducted after just a single viewing of a high-intensity Test match are extremely subjective.
Upon reflection, Mostert would have been far more deserving of a 9/10, but it speaks to the point that the lanky lock very rarely steals the headlines, but remains one of the most hard-working players in the Bok squad.
According to stats from the Ultimate Rugby app, Mostert finished the match against Georgia with the most attacking ruck hits (24) and joint-second most carries out of the forwards (7).
On defence, Mostert made the most tackles of any Springbok player on the pitch (9), the most turnovers (2) and won the most lineouts (11) in a man-of-the-match performance.
The Boks’ clash against Gerogia has turned out to be a one-off Test, but this was far from a one-off performance from Mostert.
When you watch him closely, you see that the second-rower is the sort of forward that is generally omnipresent in most facets of play. And he also boasts the attributes the Bok coaches value extremely highly: work rate, mobility, multi-skills, warrior spirit.
During Springbok phase play, keep a close eye on Mostert next time.
More often than not, he will be in position to offer a variety of contributions. If he does not carry the ball himself, he will be available to clean at the next collision point, or will latch onto the chosen ball-carrier as a support player.
His mobility and work rate means he is very rarely left on the ground or caught up at a ruck. From one phase to the next, he is often the first arriving man.
On defence, he churns out tackle after tackle. And while he may not offer exactly the same stopping power as someone like Eben Etzebeth, he very rarely misses a tackle.
At the lineouts, his height and ball-handling skills sees him reign supreme.
Also, take a look at his soft skills. In the lead-up to this try against Georgia below, it was “Mr Work Rate” Mostert as first receiver who provides the out-the-back pass to Handre Pollard looping around.
Also, have a look at this section below from Squidge Rugby’s ever-popular analysis, which explored how the Boks introduced some subtle variations to their play against Georgia, with Mostert again featuring prominently.
If the Springboks are going to beat the supremely well-coached British & Irish Lions, they are going to need both brains and brawn.
What they have in Mostert is a player who offers a wide variety of important contributions to the way the Boks want to play.
The 30-year-old won’t be grabbing any headlines with the “dirty work” he does, but don’t underestimate the importance of it.
And particularly considering some of the injury woes the Boks have endured in the second row, there is every chance Mostert could emerge as an unsung hero in the three-Test series against the Lions.