For the Lions, one of those players is lock Andries Ferreira, and another is his second-row partner, Franco Mostert – even if it is to a far lesser extent.
The duo is very much the heartbeat of the Lions tight-five, but whenever there is talk about the make-up of the Springbok second row their names are hardly mentioned.
It’s always Pieter-Steph du Toit, Eben Etzebeth and Lood de Jager. RG Snyman is the man for the future, Jacques du Plessis is a star for Montpellier and Jason Jenkins has also got his admirers. Heck, even Etienne Oosthuizen has his supporters so too does Ruan Botha.
Mostert, mainly because of his slight frame, is often thought of as a “stand-in” and is seemingly not deemed physical enough, and Ferreira hasn’t even been invited to a Springbok training camp. Yet, the two men produce the goods one match to the next, and, according to former Springbok flank-cum-lock Wikus van Heerden, deserve a look-in at Bok level before a good many other second-row forwards.
“I bet Franco and Andries are two players coach Ackies (Johan Ackermann) picks first every week. They are the type of players coaches love. They produce the goods week in and week out by doing the basics well, they go for long periods and aren’t interested in getting pats on the back. They’re there to work for the team,” said Van Heerden on Wednesday.
He added it was disappointing that “real work horses” aren’t given much credit. “It’s one of the sad things in modern rugby; the real grafters don’t get the recognition they deserve. It seems the guys who run with the ball and are flashy get noticed more easily.
“These two Lions locks are among the best in the Super Rugby competition. They showed what they are capable of in that game against the Stormers (when they were up against the highly-rated Etzebeth and Du Toit) and hopefully their strong performances this year will have been seen by the national coaches.”
Indeed, both Ferreira and Mostert must be up there with the best locks in Super Rugby. They’re not flashy, but they get through a mountain of work in each match. It’s not that they only win and steal ball in the line-outs, they’re also regularly employed as ball-carriers, to get their team over the gain-line, and their tackle rate is up there with the best.
Mostert, especially, is often his team’s biggest tackler and with his energy levels he is a player every coach would love to have in his team. Ackermann was full of praise for him recently when he ran out for his 50th Super Rugby game. “He’s a real leader in the pack, he’s been tremendous in the last few years,” said the coach of the man the Bulls didn’t want a few years ago. Ferreira, too, couldn’t settle at a union until he joined the Lions. Now they’re one of the competition’s outstanding lock pairings.
“They complement each other,” said Van Heerden. “They’re smart players, they’re physical, they work hard.
“How fortunate the Lions are to have them.”
The Lions front up to the Melbourne Rebels for their second tour match in Australia. Ackermann will name his team today for the 7am (SA time) kick-off on Saturday.