The SA Rugby magazine team identify what they would love to see come out of this weekend’s Vodacom Super Rugby matches.
Craig Lewis (editor) hopes Wandisile Simelane makes up for lost time.
There are more than a few onlookers who have been rather puzzled by the talented young centre’s limited involvement this season, with some reports suggesting that fitness concerns are one of the reasons behind it.
Despite all this, the 21-year-old is said to be a player of national interest who the Bok coaches are keen to get into the Bok set-up as soon as this July when Georgia and Scotland will arrive on South African shores.
One hopes this feeds into the confidence of the youngster, who must make the most of his start at outside centre against the Rebels this Saturday.
Jon Cardinelli (chief writer) wants the Sharks to build on their excellent tour to Australasia by securing a valuable win against the Jaguares.
Which team will have the advantage at Kings Park on Saturday? The game will mark the third and final fixture of the Jaguares’ tour to South Africa. The Sharks may not be at their belligerent best either, considering they recently returned from a taxing four-game tour to Australia and New Zealand.
That said, the Sharks simply have to find the energy to deal with a dangerous Jaguares outfit. Sean Everitt’s side could make a further statement this week if they beat one of the strongest contenders for the SA conference crown. A win at Kings Park will boost the Sharks to the top of the local standings.
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Dylan Jack (staff writer) wants the Sharks pack to prove its mettle.
Staying with the Sharks, there is still the question mark of their pack’s ability to deal with the best in the competition.
During their tour, Ox Nche and Thomas du Toit experienced mixed games in the scrums, while Hyron Andrews and Ruben van Heerden also struggled in the lineouts at times.
Against the Jaguares, they will face the only team so far that managed to shove the Stormers’ pack – filled with Springboks – back at Newlands.
If the Sharks’ tight five can come away from this game with their heads up high, it will bode very well for the remainder of their season.
Mariette Adams (staff writer) hopes the kids make the most of their opportunities.
Six weeks into the competition and we’ll finally see the likes of Manie Libbok, Embrose Papier, Muller Uys and Wandisile Simelane start a game for their respective teams.
Simelane was mysteriously absent from the Lions’ match-day squad in the opening rounds, even though they were short a midfielder. Coach Ivan van Rooyen opted to play Duncan Matthews, who is a wing, at centre instead. But Simelane has forced his way back into favour with a couple of strong cameos off the bench and will now start against the Rebels. Let’s hope he produces the type of dazzling performance we know he is capable off and prove once and for all that he will be of more value to this Lions team as a starter than a substitute.
As the worst-performing team in this year’s tournament to date, the Vodacom Bulls have been widely criticised, which has added to the increasing pressure on them. The Bulls’ cause hasn’t been helped by coach Pote Human’s continued selection of Morne Steyn ahead of Libbok, despite Steyn not having as big an influence as Human would have hoped for.
But after four straight defeats, Human has changed tact by relegating Loftus’ Liefling 2.0 to the bench, with Libbok earning the No 10 jersey. Libbok, who tends to be rather erratic and make costly errors, needs to show he has composure in a high-pressure game so that this rare start can turn into something more permanent.
Luckily for him, he will play alongside Papier and Uys, who will make his debut. Papier has also had to wait a while before returning to the run-on lineup. He needs to get back to his best form to help this Bulls team get back from the brink. Uys, on the other hand, should just go out there and replicate what he has been doing at age-grade level. He thrives on confrontation and the physical battles – he might just be the one to spark this Bulls pack to life.
Wade Pretorius (senior contributor) wants the Bulls to dig deep and find a way to win.
The Pretoria side are in disarray and remain winless. They were within a minute of beating the Blues two weeks back but were no match for the Jaguares. The Highlanders arrive as the weakest New Zealand side but will be no pushovers.
The Bulls have rolled the dice by giving Manie Libbok a start and there are many hoping the 22-year-old flyhalf can ignite a backline that has so much potential. I’ve gone Highlanders on Superbru, after going for the Bulls for the last two weeks. I’ll happily surrender the Superbru point this weekend …
Andre Huisamen (staff writer) wants Willem Alberts to inspire the Lions to a season-changing win in Melbourne.
The Joburg outfit has had a torrid season so far and they are in desperate need of a motivational boost by one of their players. Alberts could be just the player to ignite that spark in an inexperienced and confidence-lacking Lions team.
The Rebels will be flying high after their win in Dunedin last week, but it is really important that the Lions show improvement from their defeat by the Waratahs before they travel to New Zealand. A big performance by Alberts and the rest of the Lions team can provide a massive confidence boost for the remainder of their tour and their season in general.