Nelspruit - Not Victor Matfield, Bismarck du Plessis or Bryan Habana, but rather Willie le Roux has given Wales the most to think about ahead of Saturday’s Test.
The Cheetahs fullback was mesmerising in Durban last week, playing a major hand in three of his team’s tries, while he scored a five-pointer himself before the match had reached half-time.
Le Roux was sensational on attack, joining the line at speed and creating the space for the men outside him to finish off almost every opportunity he created. His now-famous chip kicks into holes behind the Welsh defence caused mayhem and it’s no wonder the visitors to this country have been scratching their heads in an effort to find ways of stopping the Bok No15.
Wales defence coach Shaun Edwards joked this week he was thinking of “locking him (Le Roux) in the toilet before the game”, adding, “we are going to have to come up with something better than what we did last time because he was absolutely outstanding.”
Le Roux was also called a “pest” by Wales head coach Warren Gatland, while both he and Bok boss Heyneke Meyer hailed him “the best fullback in the world at the moment”.
Edwards said he was a huge fan of the 24-year-old. “I’ve always been a huge fan of his, watching him in Super Rugby games and obviously he’s broken into the Springbok team the last couple of years. He’s a thinking man’s rugby player and that’s nice to see. In this modern game there are a lot of powerful big men who play rugby.”
Le Roux has seemingly ticked all the boxes asked of him by Meyer.
The Bok coach was initially unsure whether Le Roux was solid enough to play Test rugby, but since making his debut last year he has got better and better and is now without question the Boks’ first choice man to play at fullback. Not only does he add an extra, and vital, dimension to his team’s attacking play, he has also grown into a formidable defender at the back.
His taking of the high balls has been stupendous of late and he didn’t make a single error in a stunning first half performance last week.
Wales can do whatever they want; but the fact is Le Roux’s the type of player who’ll get himself involved in the game. He’ll pop up where you least expect it and you can be sure he’ll be looking to bamboozle his opponents once again this weekend.