The SA Rugby magazine team identify what they would love to see come out of this weekend’s Super Rugby Unlocked matches.
Craig Lewis (editor) hopes to see Vodacom Bulls flank Marco van Staden continue his fine run of form.
A number of players have understandably battled to hit the ground running after returning to action after such an extended period out of competition.
Yet, Van Staden has come out firing on all cylinders, providing a timely reminder of the attributes that brought him into the Springbok fold in 2018, when he earned a couple of caps off the bench.
Injuries have not been kind to the 25-year-old, but age is still very much on his side as he looks to once again fight his way back on to the national radar as the British & Irish Lions series looms.
Following the retirement of Francois Louw, there is undoubtedly an opening for a player who can make an impact at the breakdown, particularly with the renewed law application at the ruck aiming to provide opportunities for the ‘jackal’ to have a fair chance.
With his low centre of gravity, Van Staden is a menace when it comes to poaching for possession, while his powerful defence has earned him one of the greatest nicknames in South African rugby. Indeed, I hope to see ‘Eskom’ continuing to blow the lights out.
Mariette Adams (senior writer) hopes for Wandisile Simelane to prove his worth.
Simelane has, rather belatedly, been selected to make his first start of the domestic season for the Lions in the absence of Burger Odendaal.
Simelane, a former Junior Bok, has all the makings to become a great player but while he has not completely fallen out of favour, he has dropped below newcomer Odendaal in the Lions’ midfield pecking order.
Be that as it may, the Lions are winless after two games on the road so far in the competition and will eye their first match at Ellis Park to break into the winners’ circle, a situation which sets the perfect platform to launch his bid to become the first choice outside centre.
With that in mind, it would be fantastic to see Simelane deliver a barnstorming performance against Griquas this weekend, to serve as a timely reminder of just what an exceptional talent he is.
Dylan Jack (staff writer) wants Juarno Augustus to turn form around.
As the SA Rugby magazine editor has stated, there have been a quite a few players who have struggled to pick up where they left off after such a long period without rugby.
Unfortunately, Augustus is one of those players as the burly No 8 has turned in two uncharacteristically quiet and error-strewn performances in the Stormers’ opening two Super Rugby Unlocked wins.
After a couple of injury-marred years, the 22-year-old former Junior World Player of the Year looked to be getting back to his best before lockdown.
Like most of the Stormers pack, Augustus will face an almighty battle against his opposite number – Bulls captain and incumbent Springbok No 8 Duane Vermeulen.
At his best, Augustus can be a real handful for defences, with his diesel engine allowing him to get around the park quickly, while he is almost unstoppable when he carries close to the tryline.
As the Stormers are currently suffering from a few key injuries among their forwards, Augustus is going to have to find his best form again if they are to come away with anything from Loftus Versfeld.