With SA Rugby considering a state-of-origin match to take place at the end of 2020, DYLAN JACK selects a hypothetical Inland XV.
In this first part of this selection series at SARugbymag.co.za, we’ve opted for a couple of key criteria. Players will be picked on where they were born, while overseas-based players were considered for selection.
Below, this hypothetical Inland XV was therefore selected from players born in the Free State, Gauteng, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and the North-West.
The Inland XV’s back three features two exciting young players in Tyrone Green and 2019 World Cup-winner Sbu Nkosi. They are joined by Ulster back Louis Ludik – who would add plenty of experience, having enjoyed a 14-year career at the top flight.
Forming the centre pairing is Johannesburg-born-and-raised Wandisile Simelane, while Rohan Janse van Rensburg, who has starred for the Sale Sharks in the English Premiership, starts at 12.
The Inland team’s halfback pair is certainly one that can make something out of nothing. Bloemfontein-born Lionel Cronje, who is known for his off-the-cuff play, starts alongside Bok scrumhalf Faf de Klerk in a combination that would keep the defence on their toes.
Duane Vermeulen captains the Inland XV at No 8 and is joined in a strong and experienced back row by the workaholic Oupa Mohoje and powerful Marcell Coetzee.
Two players who formed part of the Springboks’ “Awesome Foursome” set of locks at the 2019 World Cup- Lood de Jager and Franco Mostert – form the second row.
In the front row, Bongi Mbonambi is joined by Trevor Nyakane and Ox Nche.
On the bench, Malcolm Marx, Pierre Schoeman – who has been excellent for Edinburgh since moving to Europe – and Coenie Oosthuizen should plenty of impact when they come onto the field. RG Snyman is another lock who won the 2019 World Cup, while Arno Botha can provide cover at No 8 and flank and has been solid for Munster.
Cobus Reinach has been in brilliant try-scoring form for club and country over the past couple of years, Andre Esterhuizen covers both flyhalf and inside centre, while the lightning-quick William Small-Smith covers outside centre and wing.
Inland State-of-Origin XV: 15 Tyrone Green (Klerksdorp, North-West), 14 Sbu Nkosi (Baberton, Gauteng), 13 Wandisile Simelane (Johannesburg, Gauteng), 12 Rohan Janse van Rensburg (Welkom, Free State), 11 Louis Ludik (Kempton Park, Gauteng), 10 Lionel Cronje (Bloemfontein, Free State), 9 Faf de Klerk (Mbombela, Mpumalanga), 8 Duane Vermeulen (Mbombela, Mpumalanga), 7 Oupa Mohoje (QwaQwa, Free State), 6 Marcell Coetzee (Potchefstroom, North-West), 5 Lood de Jager (Alberton, Gauteng), 4 Franco Mostert (Welkom, Free State), 3 Trevor Nyakane (Bushbuckridge, Mpumalanga), 2 Bongi Mbonambi (Bethlehem, Free State), 1 Ox Nche (Bloemfontein, Free State).
Subs: 16 Malcolm Marx (Germiston), 17 Pierre Schoeman (Mbombela, Mpumalanga), 18 Coenie Oosthuizen (Potchefstroom, North-West), 19 RG Snyman (Potchefstroom, North-West), 20 Arno Botha (Modimolle, Limpopo), 21 Cobus Reinach (Bloemfontein, Free State), 22 Andre Esterhuizen (Potchefstroom, North-West), 23 William Small-Smith (Bloemfontein, Free State).
Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix