Rosko Specman can serve as an X-factor weapon for the Blitzboks at the Olympics and for the Springboks during the 2021 British & Irish Lions tour, writes CRAIG LEWIS.
He may be 30 years old, but Specman is playing with all the energy and appetite of a teenager.
This past weekend, the sevens flyer sprinkled a healthy dose of Specmagic across the Dubai Sevens, dazzling opponents with his very own show of ‘Now you see him, now you don’t’.
In total, Specman ran in four tries, but also played an assisting role in a handful more. For the Blitzboks, it was like he had never been away, and the speedster provided the central spark as the Blitzboks set the scene alight.
At face value (1.72m, 80kg), he appears tailor-made for sevens, but last year he also showed glimpses of the value he can add to fifteens by producing some sublime touches for the Vodacom Bulls.
I’ll just leave this example here as a reminder:
When Specman is in space, there is no doubt that he is one of the most dangerous and exciting players in world rugby. His sweet sidestep and ability to turn on his jet shoes from a standing start are undeniably reminiscent of Springbok superstar Cheslin Kolbe.
Kolbe is another player who previously terrorised opposition on the sevens scene, and at 1.70m and 80kg, his physical dimensions are remarkably similar to Specman’s. Over the past couple of years, Kolbe has proven to be a living, breathing example of a player who has defied expectations on the Test stage.
Initially seen as a left-field hunch selection by Rassie Erasmus, Kolbe took his form with French club Toulouse and replicated that in the international arena, and then some. Besides earning nomination in the World Rugby Player of the Year category, Kolbe also bagged a trio of Top 14 awards after a sensational season.
What has ultimately set Kolbe apart is his ability to punch above his weight on defence and when it comes to his aerial skills under the high ball.
It’s an important reference point, and these are undoubtedly some of the aspects of his game that Specman will want to hone in order to make a success of his time in the 15-man game when he returns to the Bulls early next year.
Specman is keen to be part of the Blitzboks’ Olympic journey in 2020, and his presence will surely be a key component if they hope to go on to clinch a gold medal in Tokyo.
However, it’s increasingly not too far-fetched to suggest that the little magician should also have his sights on the 2021 Lions tour to South Africa.
Even at the age of 30, Specman has literally shown no signs of slowing down, and if he can continue to take strides on defence, and with his kicking and aerial game, there is every reason to believe he could eventually knock down the Springbok door.
Even as an impact option off the bench, could you even imagine how many sleepless nights opponents would have in the knowledge that both Specman and Kolbe could be deployed in tandem late in the game when players are tiring.
In that regard, also don’t forget that two of the Boks’ three Tests against the Lions will be played at altitude where it’s often a massive challenge for touring teams to maintain the pace of play.
For now, fans can look forward to some Specmagic at the upcoming Cape Town Sevens, but he’s also a player worth keeping a close eye on during this Super Rugby season.
After all, there’s no reason that his Houdini act can’t be replicated on the Test stage with just a little bit of additional fine-tuning.
Photo: EPA/Ali Haider