Overseas-based players Faf de Klerk, Willie le Roux and Duane Vermeulen vindicated their selection in Saturday’s Test against England, writes CRAIG LEWIS at Ellis Park.
There has been plenty of ongoing debate about the value of the Boks including overseas-based players – a subject that came back into the spotlight when Bismark du Plessis and Frans Steyn had to be withdrawn from the squad at the 11th hour this past week.
However, Saturday’s Test provided a timely reminder of what an impact such players can make, with De Klerk particularly providing a much-needed spark from the scrumhalf berth.
As it is, the Sale-based No 9 began the Bok comeback when he showed good vision to dot down for the Boks’ opening try on the quarter-hour mark, while he looked constantly threatening around the fringes.
Although a couple of box kicks didn’t quite go the distance early on, there were also occasions when De Klerk displayed the improvements he has made on his kicking game during his time in England.
The 26-year-old was also a terrier on defence, and sent the crowd into raptures when he darted around one ruck to tackle Henry Slade – while causing him to lose the ball forward as England were set to launch another attack midway through the second half.
While De Klerk made his presence felt close to the ball, Le Roux roamed like a Rolls Royce at fullback, reading the game with the sort of poise that illustrated why Rassie Erasmus was intent on having a least one wise old general in the back three.
Le Roux had an expert hand to play in setting up the second try for S’bu Nkosi – who was also superb on the night – while the five-pointer from the Wasps fullback just before the break proved to be crucial in the context of the clash.
Among the forwards, Vermeulen was a constantly imposing presence. The Toulon captain was physical, fearless and fronted up as a ball-carrier – drawing a big roar from the big crowd in Johannesburg on more than one occasion as he bounced a would-be England defender to the grass.
Vermeulen was also safe as a house under the high ball, while he claimed a couple of crucial turnovers in the opening half – the first coming when all the momentum was with England.
Besides the impact of the overseas-based players, rookie wings Nkosi and Aphiwe Dyantyi looked quite at home at Test level after overcoming a few nerves, while debutant lock RG Snyman was an absolute beast.
The towering Bulls lock held a noticeable presence at the lineouts, while he carried the ball with real intent.
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