With SA Rugby reportedly considering a state-of-origin match at the end of the year, CRAIG LEWIS selects a hypothetical team hailing from the Eastern Cape and KZN.
In the second 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 also considered for selection.
For this piece, we’ve looked at players born in the Eastern Cape, which is clearly the breeding ground for plenty of rich talent, while also including those who were born in KwaZulu-Natal.
This follows on from the selection of an Inland XV on Sunday, while on Tuesday we will select a Western Cape-born team.
The team below is packed with highly regarded players, with a particularly potent backline boasting World Cup winners such as Lukhanyo Am, Frans Steyn, Makazole Mapimpi and Elton Jantjies.
Of course, there is also place for King William’s Town-born Aphelele Fassi, which is also the birthplace of Am, as well as Sikhumbuzo Notshe, who slots into a back row headlined by Springbok skipper Siya Kolisi.
It’s when we get to the tight five that players born in KZN come into their own, with Sharks heavies such as Khutha Mchunu, Kerron van Vuuren, Mzamo Majola and Dylan Richardson all included in the 23.
Among the backline substitutes, talented Jaden Hendrikse, Sergeal Petersen and Curwin Bosch all hail from the Eastern Cape, while Durban-born Jean-Luc du Preez is picked on the bench to provide cover at both lock and flank.
Hypothetical EC/KZN State-of-Origin XV: 15 Aphelele Fassi (King William’s Town), 14 Rosko Specman (Grahamstown), 13 Lukhanyo Am (King William’s Town), 12 Frans Steyn (Aliwal North), 11 Makazole Mapimpi (Mdantsane), 10 Elton Jantjies (Graaff-Reinet), 9 Sanele Nohamba (Alice), 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe (King William’s Town), 7 Andisa Ntsila (Queenstown), 6 Siya Kolisi (c) (Zwide), 5 Sintu Manjezi (East London), 4 Thembelani Bholi (East London), 3 Kudzwai Dube (Eastern Cape), 2 Kerron van Vuuren (Durban), 1 Lizo Gqoboka (Tabankulu).
Subs: 16 Dylan Richardson (Pinetown), 17 Sti Sithole (Durban), 18 Mzamo Majola (Durban), 19 Jean-Luc du Preez (Durban), 20 James Venter (Port Shepstone), 21 Jaden Hendrikse (East London), 22 Sergeal Petersen (Humansdorp), 23 Curwin Bosch (Port Elizabeth).