The Star rugby writer Jacques van der Westhuyzen.

If Ruan Combrinck’s form hasn’t been good enough to pre-book a spot in the Springbok squad for the Rugby Championship, I don’t know what is.

And, by the way, this isn’t only because he produced a monster kick (from 50-odd metres out) in the final minutes of their quarter-final bout against the Sharks to secure a Super Rugby semi-final spot against the Hurricanes.

I say that because I think he has done enough to show that he deserves it.

From his hard-running ways, to his tactical ability, to his (obviously massive) kicks at goal, Combrinck is national material.

But whether or not Allister Coetzee will regard him as such is another matter.

During the Incoming Test series against France, when Lions wing Courtnall Skosan and the Cheetahs’ Raymond Rhule were the starting wings while form Stormers back Dillyn Leyds was sparingly used off the bench, Combrinck featured for the SA ‘A’ side.

And it would be ridiculous if he were to be omitted from the Springbok group once again.

His skill-set, his physicality (which will, needless to say, be needed when the Boks are faced with a bigger test than France... and besides, it’s something that Coetzee certainly favours) and his boot can offer the Springboks a lot.

And he can also offer back-up at fullback if need be. So I don’t see why Combrinck shouldn’t be there.

I’m not saying that he should come in and erase Skosan and Rhule or Leyds (especially not him), but judging by his form, saying he deserves to be included in the Bok squad for the Rugby Championship, be it off the bench or in a starting spot, isn’t too far-fetched. Not at all.

Lions wing Ruan Combrinck is a hard-running ball-carrier, in addition to his other skills. Photo: Kim Ludbrook, EPA

* * * * *

So, we all know that the current Super Rugby format is all kinds of silly and no amount of “looking at the positives” will change that. But one thing that should be said is that we will be treated to a proper final on Saturday, with the two best sides battling it out at Ellis Park.

Now many will probably hold the view that the Lions didn’t face any Kiwi opposition during the group stages and that might have given them an easier journey to the playoffs.

And that is certainly true. But the fact is that, regardless of who they did face, they deserve to be there on points. And they’ve showed that with consistent performances.

Like I said, the view that departing coach Johan Ackermann’s team had a much easier time during the pool stages is not wrong at all.

But maybe that is perhaps just what made their comeback victory over the Hurricanes in Johannesburg so special (after all, look what happened to the Stormers last year, when they didn’t encounter any New Zealand teams and then met the Chiefs in the quarter-final at Newlands in a match that cruelly exposed their weaknesses).

They didn’t have a taste of the Kiwis before the playoffs, and even though we all probably thought it was game over by the 30-minute mark at Ellis Park, the Lions fought back in a way that can only be described as admirable.

And that fightback showed their character.

It showed their belief. Yes, the Hurricanes were their own worst enemies when they wasted a couple of scoring opportunities late in the first half, and maybe they, too, thought that they had the game in the bag.

But that’s not the point.

The Lions could have given up. They could have succumbed to the pressure of the massive gap in scores.

But they didn’t. And if ever South Africa had a chance at Super Rugby glory again, it is now.


The Star

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