Nohamba causing more than ‘half’ a headache for Rassie

EMIRATES Lions’ Sanele Nohamba among the halfbacks causing Springboks’ coaching staff more than half a headache. | Shutterstock

EMIRATES Lions’ Sanele Nohamba among the halfbacks causing Springboks’ coaching staff more than half a headache. | Shutterstock

Published Mar 9, 2024


THE Springboks’ first alignment camp of the year has concluded and the 43 players who were invited would have been eager to impress ahead of a busy international season that kicks off in June.

Coach Rassie Erasmus invited a mixture of young and experienced players and it is important to bear in mind that players based in Europe were not available.

This week Independent Newspapers has looked at the outside backs and the centres who had the chance to state their case at the camp and today we look at the halfbacks.

South Africa is currently blessed with an epidemic of classy scrumhalves. A few months back, the Boks famously fielded four scrumhalves in their match against Romania, and the well is getting deeper with the addition of Sanele Nohamba and Morne van den Berg to great Springbok plans.

It would seem that Cobus Reinach is nearing the end of his career at 34 years of age but his absence from the camp could be down to him still being on duty in club rugby in France. However you look at it, Erasmus has an embarrassment of riches in the position.

The flyhalf position is looking better than it did this time last year because of the growing confidence of youngsters Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu and Jordan Hendrikse while the World Cup pair of Handre Pollard and Manie Libbok are in fine fettle.

Faf de Klerk: The 32-year-old was under pressure from Reinach at the World Cup. He was on the bench for the quarter-final and semi-final before winning his starting place back for the final. At 32, there is still plenty of life in the legs and he is the top scrumhalf dog.

Jaden Hendrikse: The 24-year-old had a bad injury run last year and then did not play much at the World Cup. Afterwards, he bizarrely went on mandatory Springbok leave when the Sharks desperately needed him. He has a wonderful knack for reading the game and hopefully he gets a good run of game time now.

Grant Williams: Williams was in the same boat as his Sharks teammate when he returned from France. He needed game time but has had little. The resting protocols are now over and just like Hendrikse, he will be delighted to get back on the field. When he and Hendrikse work in unison at the Sharks, they are a different team.

Herschel Jantjies: He was hugely disappointed to lose out on World Cup selection after having played a role in the 2019 triumph. At the Stormers, he is playing with hunger and he knows that he has his work cut out if he is to climb up the scrumhalf ladder.

Morne van den Berg: The Lions man was probably the biggest surprise when the 43 names were released but his selection was richly deserved. He has been consistently good in an up-and-down Lions team and can make things happen. At age 26 he is approaching the peak of his powers and can make a strong case for full Bok selection.

Sanele Nohamba: The little general has been in the form of his life and key to the much better form of the Lions this season. His ability to switch between 9 and 10 without breaking a sweat, plus his goal-kicking skills, makes him very attractive to Erasmus.

Jordan Hendrikse: The younger brother of Jaden barely played last year because of injury and then struggled to get selected at the Lions. He came back into the team for the Lions’ heavy defeat of his new team, the Sharks, and he showed much of the promise that made him such a good flyhalf for the SA Under-20 team.

Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu: He is arguably the most talented youngster playing in South Africa. It is going to be fascinating to see how Erasmus handles the Stormers utility back. Hopefully, he gets blooded as a flyhalf and not as a jack-of-all-trades bench player.

Manie Libbok: We shouldn’t forget that Libbok was the first-choice flyhalf at the World Cup up until the final when Pollard got the nod to start. Libbok can be a magician with the ball and new backline coach Tony Brown will enjoy getting the best out of this talent.