Nizaam Carr's form has put him on the Springboks' radar but he has to show his mettle in knockout rugby, writes RYAN VREDE.
Carr was excellent in the closing stages of the Stormers' Super Rugby campaign and has carried that form in the Currie Cup. In the Cape, Carr was always expected to be a top player. He was an exceptional schoolboy, who later progressed to become an outstanding junior international player – among the best in the world as a No 8.
Gifted young players often don't fulfill their potential at senior level, but Carr isn't one of those. Given plenty of opportunities with Western Province and the Stormers, Carr has graduated with distinction. His progress was acknowledged by his teammates at the recent WP awards evening where he was named the Players' Player of the Year.
His form and rise to prominence doesn't surprise me. His early struggles were in keeping with those of talented rookies. He needed to learn, understand and adapt to the unique demands of senior rugby, especially in Super Rugby, and his recent showings reflect the fruits of that learning process. The Stormers' struggles as a team has stifled his progress, but with WP having reached the semi-finals of the Currie Cup, we will have an opportunity to establish whether Carr's temperament matches his appreciable technical ability.
I understand that Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer rates Carr highly but feels that he's still undergoing a process of refinement. Part of that process is fronting up in high-pressure matches, which Saturday's semi-final will undoubtedly be. Carr has thrived at eighthman, in his preferred position, where his link play has been the outstanding feature of his campaign. His size and mobility have combined well to make him a formidable strike runner, while his physical defence amplifies his value.
He has been fortunate to have been able to watch and learn from Duane Vermeulen for some years, and, given an extended run at the back of the scrum in Vermeulen's absence, Carr has proven himself to be an asset.
Meyer sees the 23-year-old as a versatile option capable of playing across all three back-row positions, although ultimately would want him to settle at No 8. At present Carr is well down the Bok pecking order, but his strong showings this year have certainly advanced his cause. He ticks the vast number of boxes Meyer measures his players by – size, speed, strength, coachability and X factor among those – and has the opportunity to strengthen his Bok case by exhibiting the required temperament at Newlands against the Blue Bulls.
His talent is not in question.
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