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Why no Skosan in Bok training camp, Allister?

Opinion
By the end of Tuesday nine different wings would have been part of the first two Springbok training camps ahead of June’s three-Test series against France. Lions try-machine Courtnall Skosan isn’t one of those nine.

The continued exclusion of Skosan from the national picture is mind-boggling considering the consistency in his performances over the last two years - and the fact he is a try-hungry player who hardly makes mistakes.

Skosan though - who scored four tries against the Reds in a scintillating performance two weeks ago - has said he will continue to keep knocking on the door. “All I can do is play my best, give my best for the Lions ... the rest is not up to me,” he said recently.

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Courtnall Skosan

But one’s got to wonder why national coach Allister Coetzee hasn’t looked to Skosan yet. Wing is, after all, one of the problem areas in the Springbok team going into the 2017 Test season.

Not one player stands out as being a definite starter for the French series. And, does that mean that Coetzee will again turn to veterans like JP Pietersen and Bryan Habana to wear the No 11 and 14 jerseys - again? Are these two World Cup winners from 2007 still the best men to wing it for the Boks? Or should Coetzee look inside of South Africa’s borders and start backing younger players?

It’s a question that will be answered in the coming weeks and months, but, as mentioned, no player outside of Skosan, has really shown they are the right man to be invested in ... and that’s why the Lions wing’s continued absence is mind-boggling.

Ruan Combrinck - arguably the best wing in South Africa last year and possibly the best bet to be a long-term solution on the right - sadly hasn’t played any rugby this year following a shoulder injury, but he’ll be back in action in two weeks, giving him enough time to push for a place in the team to take on France. While he missed the first national training camp a month ago, he will be part of the action in Stellenbosch from today.

The big hope to fill the left wing position, Seabelo Senatla, is injured and has yet to properly prove himself in the 15-man game, even though he is full of potential. But no one, including Coetzee, can honestly say he deserves a tick behind his name. He’s done nothing to warrant a look-in.

Sergeal Petersen is a star at Currie Cup and Super Rugby level and may be worth investing in long-term, but like so many of this country’s wingers he is not physically imposing and has been found out in defence and under the high ball; remember what big Fijian Taqele Naiyaravoro did to the Cheetahs man in the Barbarians game against the Boks last November? Like Senatla, Petersen has pace and quick feet, but is that enough?

The Cheetahs’ other wing, Raymond Rhule, is seemingly back in favour with the national “selectors”, that is Coetzee, after being invited to the first and second training camps, and he could well be the man in the No 14 jersey in June. He’s big and strong, has pace and is in pretty good form.

The Bulls’ Travis Ismaiel and Jamba Ulengo are also options but sadly their talents are lost at the Bulls. Imagine the chances they’d get to show off their skills if they represented the Lions or Cheetahs.

The Sharks’ Kobus van Wyk has been invited to the Stellenbosch camp, along with Dillyn Leyds and Lwazi Mvovo, and all three men will be keen to make an impression.

But one’s got to wonder, when compared with the wings likely to run out for the All Blacks this season, are they Test players?

Sunday Tribune

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