Despite many rugby players leaving South Africa to take up lucrative contracts overseas, there are still many top talents looking to make their mark in Vodacom Super Rugby in 2020.
There are quite a few players around the country whose careers haven’t quite kicked on following top junior careers because of injuries, being played out of position or waiting in line behind a Springbok. But this year these players are set to get a good opportunity to showcase their talents and fight for higher honours.
JOHN GOLIATH looks at four former age-group stars who can take their careers to the next level in 2020.
Manie Libbok (Vodacom Bulls)
The Bulls man has had to bide his time in the shadow of Handre Pollard over the past few years after a distinguished junior career. Libbok is a fabulous player with ball in hand and a dangerous runner from broken play. He also has a very good right boot, and his goal-kicking is improving with each passing season. However, he is prone to the odd mistake, which he needs to eradicate from his game in the fight for higher honours. Consistency is going to be key for Libbok in 2020.
Wandisile Simelane (Lions)
I’m really looking forward to Simelane having a full Super Rugby campaign outside a playmaker of Elton Jantjies’ calibre. Outside centre is one position where South Africa lacks a bit of depth, with Lukhanyo Am and Jesse Kriel head and shoulders above their peers at the moment. But Simelane definitely has the game to push the two Boks, as he also possesses good skills and can run top lines to cut through defences. He will also be tested defensively in Super Rugby, which will make him a much more rounded player.
Aphelele Fassi (Sharks)
With Curwin Bosch set to guide the Sharks from the flyhalf position, speed merchant Fassi should get a good run in the No 15 jersey after spending a lot of time on the Sharks bench last year. Fassi is a beautifully balanced runner from the back. The Sharks will have no shortage of speed in the back division with Bosch at flyhalf, but Fassi is also an intelligent player who reads the game really well. He once thwarted an attack in a SuperSport Challenge match with a bicycle kick, which tells you what sort of awareness he has on the rugby field.
Juarno Augustus (Stormers)
After announcing himself to the world at the 2017 U20 championship, where he was voted the player of the tournament, the progress of ‘Trokkie’ has been slowed by various injuries. Just when you think he is getting on a roll and minutes under his belt, he breaks down. Augustus was seen as Duane Vermeulen’s natural successor – a big, powerful No 8 who is a real menace with ball in hand. If he can stay injury free, he will certainly add that physical edge to the Stormers arsenal and gain the confidence to fulfil his undoubted potential.
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