The SA Rugby magazine team identifies what they would love to see come out of round 16 of Vodacom Super Rugby.
Craig Lewis (senior writer) is keen to see S’bu Nkosi jol against the Hurricanes
Over the last few weeks, it’s been refreshing to see Nkosi looking increasingly like the confident player who rapidly emerged as one of the Boks’ first-choice wingers last year, banking seven Test starts in a memorable debut season of Test rugby.
In last Saturday’s win over the Lions, the Sharks star undeniably had his mojo back. He popped up repeatedly to make an influential play. His smile was back, and he had a real presence about him. Long may that continue.
The Sharks face a crucial clash against the Hurricanes this weekend, and desperately need Nkosi to be at his best.
Jon Cardinelli (chief writer) wants at least one Kiwi scalp for the South African collective.
The Lions and Stormers beat the Highlanders in recent matches, while the Cape side also managed to match the Sharks’ effort in holding the mighty Crusaders to a draw. The onus is now on the Vodacom Bulls and the Sharks to keep that momentum going.
The Bulls will be without Handré Pollard and Duane Vermeulen when they visit Auckland on Friday, and they don’t travel well to New Zealand. I’m slightly more hopeful of the Sharks upsetting the Hurricanes in Durban.
If the Sharks deliver another warrior-like defensive performance and the Hurricanes blow cold rather than hot – which is possible, given their inconsistent showings in 2019 – South African supporters will have another reason to smile at the end of the round.
Mariette Adams (staff writer) hopes Curwin Bosch gets to play a full game at flyhalf.
Curwin Bosch had enjoyed a frustrating start to the season when he had to settle for a place on the Sharks’ bench in six of their opening nine games and three starts at fullback. It was frustrating because he was being kept out of a misfiring side by Rob du Preez who was struggling for form and consistency.
It was only after an erratic performance from Du Preez during their defeat to the Reds that Bosch earned his first start at No 10, against the Waratahs in Sydney. And the 21-year-old produced a composed performance, that included a 13-point contribution, to send a timely reminder of what the Sharks had been missing with his non-selection.
Bosch has since been the first-choice flyhalf with solid performances against the Crusaders, Chiefs and Lions. However, he is yet to finish a match at 10. Fullback Aphelele Fassi has been a rock at the back for the Sharks, but has been sacrificed to accommodate Bosch at fullback in the second half of games, which in return allowed Du Preez to come on and get minutes in that crucial 10 minutes.
Against the Hurricanes, I’d like to see Bosch get a full 80-minute shift under his belt at flyhalf with Fassi also kept on at fullback. It would make for interesting viewing to see how Bosch measures up against arguably the world’s best flyhalf in Beauden Barrett.
Du Preez has not made much of a difference when he came on regardless, so perhaps a cameo at inside centre will be better for the team. It will allow him game-time and afford Bok centre André Esterhuizen some much-needed rest.
One frustrating element from the Sharks’ victory over the Lions was coach Robert du Preez’s use of his bench. Robert Jnr came on just as the Sharks were starting to find a bit of go-forward, only for the hosts to start to lose control of the game once Curwin Bosch was moved to fullback.
However, that was not the only questionable move. With one minute left and the Sharks camped in Lions territory, both replacement scrumhalf Cameron Wright and young hooker Dylan Richardson came onto the field. Wright did not get a touch of the ball, if memory serves correctly.
At 25-years-old, Wright is no longer the young and slightly hotheaded scrumhalf he was coming through the academy. A three-year stint with Montpellier has given him the experience he needs to be able to fill the boots of captain Louis Schreuder, if needed. To bring any player on with hardly any time to play is a bit of an insult.
It is slightly more understandable when blooding a youngster like Richardson, but Wright deserved a bit better. If the plan was to play Schreuder for the full 80 minutes, then that is what should have been done. However, if the plan was to use Wright during a part of the game, then you at least need to give a senior like him time to get his hands on the ball.
Be gone, time-wasting subs!
Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix