Former Springbok wing Breyton Paulse believes that South Africa have enough talent out wide to succeed at the World Cup. JON CARDINELLI reports.
It’s not a question who will go to the World Cup, it’s a question who will miss out. For the first time in ages, South Africa boasts several excellent wing options, and the Boks have the means to switch between an attacking and tactical approach.
Last year, Rassie Erasmus described Makazole Mapimpi as the most improved player in the Bok squad. Aphiwe Dyantyi was backed to start for the Boks in his breakout year at senior level, while S’bu Nkosi and Cheslin Kolbe also made their Test debuts.
Mapimpi has been in red-hot attacking form for the Sharks. Nkosi’s value under the high ball has been evident, and Kolbe – playing for Toulouse – has proved one of the most consistent performers in Europe.
Paulse played 64 Tests and scored 26 tries for the Boks between 1999 and 2007. Speaking to SARugbymag.co.za, the former winger said that all four of the aforementioned players would add value to the Boks’ World Cup campaign.
Last Saturday, in the crunch fixture between the Sharks and Lions at Kings Park, Mapimpi intercepted a pass and raced the length of the field to score. Paulse feels that Mapimpi’s game awareness is comparable to that of Pieter Rossouw – another former winger who starred for the Boks in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
‘Pieter Rossouw had a natural feel for the game. He saw the opportunity a few seconds before it presented itself. Makazole is in the same class,’ Paulse said.
‘It’s a rare gift, something only a few players are born with. We’ve seen it already this season: Makazole flying on to a pass at the right moment.
‘Sometimes what you don’t see on TV is more telling. When I’ve been at the ground [in his capacity as a commentator for SuperSport] I’ve noticed that Makazole will occasionally bide his time and wait for a subsequent ruck to make his move. So when the moment arrives, he makes the most of it.’
According to Paulse, the other wings who featured for the Boks last season all possess something special.
‘Cheslin Kolbe’s gift is the ability to step,’ he said. ‘He’s never going to be the guy who runs over defenders. He uses his feet to break the line and create scoring chances.
‘Aphiwe Dyantyi and S’bu Nkosi impressed last year, and for the first time in a while, the Bok coach is spoiled for choice in the wing positions. When Makazole and S’bu broke down with injuries last year, Rassie was able to call on Kolbe.
‘It was great to see Kolbe performing, but even better to know that there are several quality options as the World Cup draws near.’
*Read about Mapimpi’s journey to the top in the latest issue of SA Rugby magazine
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