In a month where the Boks had been scheduled to play Test rugby, editor CRAIG LEWIS explores the depth of SA rugby by picking a backline of ‘alternative’ players who weren’t involved in the World Cup.
If one had to pick a hypothetical Springbok side, of course it’s easy to assume the selections wouldn’t have strayed too far from the World Cup-winning group, bar the odd experimental introduction.
To take this concept one step further, though, we take a look at a group of highly capable Springbok hopefuls who wouldn’t be out of place in a hypothetical ‘non-World Cup XV’.
Having first looked at the options among the forwards on Monday, we now turn our attention to the backs …
SCRUMHALF: Sanele Nohamba
This used to be a real problem position for the Springboks, and yet Faf de Klerk, Herschel Jantjies and Cobus Reinach offered an embarrassment of riches at the World Cup.
Looking beyond this, though, further youthful options have emerged in South African rugby circles, with Embrose Papier and Andre Warner all boasting plenty of potential, not to mention 25-year-old Ivan van Zyl. Yet, it’s former Junior Springbok Sanele Nohamba who caught the eye at the start of Vodacom Super Rugby, showcasing his natural talents in what looked to be his breakthrough season.
FLYHALF: Curwin Bosch
Of course, this position remains well covered by World Cup-winners Handre Pollard and Elton Jantjies, but there is a need to start looking beyond them.
Manie Libbok, Damian Willemse and Curwin Bosch remain on the fringes, searching for consistency at flyhalf, but it’s the latter who particularly demonstrated over the first few rounds of Super Rugby that he is due for a Springbok recall.
INSIDE CENTRE: Andre Esterhuizen
The Boks do need a world-class backup to Damian de Allende, and many have wondered whether overseas-based Jan Serfontein or Rohan Janse van Rensburg could eventually get a look-in again.
There are several youngsters among local franchises looking to progress through the ranks, but it’s Harlequins-bound Andre Esterhuizen who remains well placed to add to his eight Test caps.
OUTSIDE CENTRE: Wandisile Simelane
One way or another, Wandisile Simelane remains a player that South African rugby followers are deeply rooting for in the hopes this prodigiously talented youngster can go on to reach his potential.
Lukhanyo Am and Jesse Kriel are settled as the Boks’ go-to men at 13, but Simelane is seen as a successor, with teammate Mannie Rass and the Stormers’ more experienced Ruhan Nel other worthy candidates.
WINGS: Seabelo Senatla & Madosh Tambwe
Courtnall Skosan, Rosko Specman, Seabelo Senatla, Yaw Penxe, Rabs Maxwane, Travis Ismael, Dillyn Leyds and Madosh Tambwe add to a surfeit of options to provide backup to Makazole Mapimpi, Cheslin Kolbe and S’bu Nkosi.
All of those players remain in search of consistency, but the power of Tambwe and undeniable X factor of Senatla surely place them as attractive ‘alternatives’ in a position where there is no shortage of competition.
FULLBACK: Aphelele Fassi
This is probably the easiest selection when it comes to considering other fullbacks who weren’t involved at the World Cup. Aphelele Fassi set Super Rugby alight in 2020, and was set for a well-deserved call-up to the Springboks ahead of the scheduled July Tests.
New Harlequins recruit Tyrone Green is another player to keep an eye on, while Willemse can cover fullback too, but it’s Fassi who remains one of the most exciting prospects in SA rugby.
Photo: Joe Allison/www.Photosport.nz