CAPE TOWN – The 2019 Super Rugby season has been one marred by inconsistency for the South African teams. While the team performances haven’t failed to produce many a talking point, the individual outings have also been a big deal, for a number of reasons.
So, here IOL Sport's Wynona Louw highlights three South African players whose form should have helped them onto the radar... and three who haven’t quite got it right yet.
I don’t think a lot needs to be said here. In the Stormers’ win at the weekend, Leyds was a real pain for the Bulls, and they felt it almost every time he touched the ball. His brilliance - which saw him deceive several Bulls defenders to set up Herschel Jantjies’ try - was superb, but the same vision and ridiculous skill he showed before offloading to the scrumhalf has been on display many times this season. Springbok omission would be an insult.
This season has been one in which the curtain has been raised high enough for SA to see more of Jantjies. His speedy and effective service and potency around the fringes are obvious strengths, but his defence has continued to move closer to that category.
Add in there his support play and overall ability to inject some pace into a game and you are looking at a player who has what it takes to move closer to the “complete scrumhalf” phase.
No matter how modern the game gets, a front-rower’s execution of his primary duties will always be the green tick that matters, but adding a few more pros certainly can’t hurt, and that’s where Gqoboka passes with flying colours.
His consistent hard work away from the set-piece is just as impressive. And one can only hope that he succeeds in evading injury as well as he can pick those running lines post the breakdown.
Robert du Preez
I don’t know what’s worse - the fact that it took two years for Robert du Preez Senior to give Curwin Bosch a chance at No 10 or that his son has to deal with the repercussions (i.e. the public reaction) of his unrelenting resistance to change. Either way, Du Preez Junior’s form hasn’t done anything to help the situation.
While his 2018 productions got him a Springbok call-up, it’s safe to say that, on current form, one ahead of the World Cup seems highly unlikely.
Jean-Luc du Plessis
Even just listing Du Plessis as a “miss” is an occurrence that should never happen considering how talented the pivot is. But so far in 2019, he hasn’t been able to prove a hit just yet. After a lengthy struggle with injury, the Stormers flyhalf is yet to remind us of why he can easily be considered one of the best in SA when he gets it right.
Following their win against the Bulls, Stormers coach Robbie Fleck said that he would continue backing him.
Hopefully it’s a decision that brings out the real Jean-Luc du Plessis.
Ok, so he hasn’t exactly been an out and out “miss” in 2019, but he hasn’t lived up to all the 2018 hype either.
Fewer SA players would have made the “to watch” lists more often than the Sharks back last season. And while it hasn’t been all fireworks courtesy of the 21-year-old just yet, he still has time to bring all that young rugby credit into 2019.@WynonaLouw