Juan De Jongh is on track to make his first start for Heyneke Meyer’s Springboks in the tour opener against Ireland in Dublin on Saturday after showcasing his elusiveness in Western Province’s Currie Cup final win over the Sharks.
De Jongh, 24, has 12 Test caps to his name, but only two of those appearances have been made in 2012, and both were off the bench last month.
In fact, the Province centre had to wait until the September 15 clash against New Zealand in Dunedin to crack the matchday 22 for the first time this season.
Meyer has made no secret of his preference for big bodies in every position and De Jongh consequently started the year in fifth place on the depth chart behind centres Jean de Villiers, Frans Steyn, Wynand Olivier and even rookie JJ Engelbrecht.
But Olivier has since moved shop to Japan, while Engelbrecht’s defensive shortcomings at outside centre have seen him fall out of favour and Steyn has been ruled out of the year-end tour with an ankle injury.
And Jaco Taute, the only other player standing between De Jongh and the No 13 jersey, is earmarked to start at fullback on Saturday.
Meyer’s faith in the WP centre appears to have been boosted after De Jongh brushed aside two Boks, and side-stepped a third, to score the only try of the Currie Cup final.
South Africa have lost three of their last four matches against Ireland, and De Jongh will be determined to seize a rare opportunity to impress.
POSSIBLE TEST TEAM: 15 Jaco Taute, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Jean de Villiers (capt), 11 Francois Hougaard, 10 Pat Lambie, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Juandre Kruger, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Tendai Mtawarira