CAPE TOWN – His nickname is “Boogie”, and Warrick Gelant certainly lived up to it in dancing around and through the Sharks defence at the weekend.
Gelant was on fire in scoring a hat trick at Kings Park – which is quickly becoming his favourite ground outside of Loftus after he dotted down thrice in a Currie Cup game last year – in a commanding 40-10 victory.
This has obviously led to calls from several quarters to install the Knysna-born hot-stepper in the Springbok No 15 jersey for the first Test of the Rassie Erasmus era against Wales in Washington DC on June 2.
Now, there are few bigger admirers of Gelant than I.
He should’ve been manning the fullback berth under Allister Coetzee already, but one of the reasons for the latter’s swift departure from the Bok job was his dogged resistance to dropping the safe but ineffective Andries Coetzee in the last line of defence.
The former Bok coach paid Gelant a further disservice by picking the Bulls flyer out of position at left wing against Wales late last year, and adding insult to injury by pointing out his positional lapses on defence as the Welsh exploited his inexperience at No 11.
But in 2018, Erasmus should be careful to immediately anoint Gelant as his tour de force at the back just yet.
The 22-year-old started the Super Rugby season late due to a knee injury, missing the first two games against the Hurricanes and Lions. He returned in Brisbane in the defeat to the Reds on March 10, and has battled to reach the heights of 2017.
Even his Bulls coach John Mitchell said after the Sharks game – while raving about how “brilliant” his fullback was – about Gelant that “a lot of young men go through different pressures from time to time, and he’s obviously just been through some tough performances in trying to find form”.
“He looked like he enjoyed himself on the playground, which is the one thing he can control. It’s good to see him back in form,” Mitchell added.
And so say all of us. But one good game shouldn’t mean that Gelant should be guaranteed a starting spot against Wales.
Firstly, the hat trick and Man of the Match display came against a South African team, so he would’ve had greater confidence of trying things and also playing on the front foot against the Sharks.
Gelant needs to keep on producing performances of the calibre that he did at Kings Park against the Rebels, Highlanders, Stormers, Sharks again, Jaguares and Brumbies, and must improve his tactical kicking and anticipation and stability on defence.
The man he faced at the weekend, Curwin Bosch, is still a strong Bok contender. As we all know, his main shortcoming is his defence, but he has a deadly boot, searing pace and just appears to be a more rounded player than Gelant, who has the greater X-factor.
Dillyn Leyds is another option who must be given the No 15 jersey by Stormers coach Robbie Fleck immediately, starting with Saturday’s clash against the Sharks, as he is wasted at wing.
Leyds is a real footballer who is able to spark something out of nothing, and someone with a high work-rate as well.