Nizaam Carr represents a victory for measured player development in South Africa and is ready to be a Bok, writes RYAN VREDE.
Carr was excellent in the latter stages of the Stormers' Super Rugby campaign and again throughout the Currie Cup and thoroughly deserved to be named in the Springboks' touring squad. Coach Heyneke Meyer has consistently claimed to be serious about rewarding domestic performance and the fact that Carr will be settling into his seat aboard the London-bound plane on Saturday reinforces that claim.
Meyer has previously used the European tour to introduce young players to the Springboks' environment and should do the same with Carr, who has the potential to fill a troublesome void as Duane Vermeulen's understudy. He should get game time in Europe as well, with the Test against Italy the perfect opportunity for this.
With Pierre Spies and Arno Botha out for the remainder of the year and exhibiting a worrying propensity for serious injury, Carr should have the inside lane to the backup No 8 slot. He is in every way a raw version of Vermeulen, who has been a perfect fit in the context of what Meyer requires from his No 8. Certainly Carr has some way to go before a legitimate comparison can be made to Vermeulen, who has developed into one of the world's best, but the potential exists for Carr to grow significantly in the years ahead provided he is given opportunities that will aid this.
In Saturday's Currie Cup final he showed he has the temperament to match his technical gifting. While other, more experienced, players folded under the pressure (think Marnitz Boshoff), Carr was central to everything that was good about WP's performance. This should further inform Meyer's estimation of the 23-year-old.
Mostly, Carr is a triumph of smart man management from WP coach Allister Coetzee. A prodigiously talented junior player, Carr struggled with his transition to the senior ranks. Coetzee recognised these struggles as one of a gifted rookie and not a terminally hopeless kid, blooding him slowly and in an environment that maximised his chance of succeeding. Now, with Carr's talent having blossomed, he has become an asset to the Stormers and WP, and a player who has come strongly into national contention.
Compare this to the rise of Oupa Mohoje, who, in my view, was still in a critical growth phase with the Cheetahs before being prematurely thrust into a Bok shirt. More often than not I've seen those sorts of scenarios end badly, and, sadly, they almost always involve a talented black player. I'll be surprised if Mohoje plays 20 Tests because he has graduated despite his education being incomplete. That will show in time. Increasingly players like that have come to feel like impostors in elevated company and eventually play like impostors in elevated company.
Carr not so. I won't be surprised if he plays 50 Tests for the Springboks because he has done his apprenticeship and ticked all the required boxes.
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