Nizaam Carr has got what it takes to play for South Africa, according to a pair of former Stormers loose forward stalwarts.
“He’s definitely Springbok material,” Anton Leonard said yesterday. “He’s a strong ball-carrier, runs good lines and is a clever rugby player, and it’s a big plus that he’s a lineout jumper as well.”
In March, hooker Scarra Ntubeni went down with a grade-two calf strain, which opened the door for Carr to slot into a re-shuffled pack and, 11 starts later, the 23-year-old is keeping 10-Test flanker Siya Kolisi on the bench.
“Nizaam has had an unbelievable season and he is putting his hand up for Springbok selection,” said Corné Krige.
Krige and Leonard were back-row buddies in 1999 when the Stormers streaked into, and then crashed out of, a home semi-final against the Highlanders.
“I’ve always rated him,” said Krige, who spent all of his nine seasons at Western Province, captaining South Africa 18 times from 1999 to 2003.
“In all age groups he’s shown his ability, he’s always been there and there about. I’ve watched him from school level, and it’s good to see he’s made the step up now.”
“Last week against the Bulls, Nizaam had one of the best games I’ve seen him play,” said Leonard, a product of South Western Districts, who earned a pair of Test caps in 1999 on the basis of 12 impressive appearances for the Stormers.
During 67 minutes of the 16-0 whitewash of the Bulls at Newlands, Carr made 11 carries for 42 metres, two offloads, one clean break and no handling errors.
“That was the most perfect match he’s played and it’s important that he does that every week, that’s how you force your way into the Bok side,” added Leonard. “That’s what guys like Duane Vermeulen produce all the time, and they just keeping getting better.”
Carr did come up short in one key statistic, missing three of 10 attempted take-downs on Bulls runners.
“It’s all about confidence,” said Leonard. “You can’t learn to tackle at that level. His weak point is tackling, but you can see that he’s been working hard in the gym and getting bigger, and if he can continue improving there, he can make it.”
Krige agrees. “The one thing guys can improve on is bulking up in the gym and working on their physicality. If you’ve got the aggression and the desire you can get better there.
“The good thing for Nizaam is he’s matured this season and he’s got Super Rugby and Currie Cup experience under his belt, and that will help him to be ready if he gets called up.”
Leonard and Krige differ on how best to utilise Carr at Test level.
“Loose forwards are all about complementing each other and (Bok coach) Heyneke Meyer is very good at picking guys who do that,” Krige said.
“Nizaam’s ball skills and ability to offload in the tackle are probably better than all of the other loose forwards (in the Bok setup), but he doesn’t have the experience of guys like Schalk Burger, Siya Kolisi and Willem Alberts.
“I remember how we used to bring Bob Skinstad (off the bench) to use his ball-carrying ability because it’s always good to bring on a guy like that when defences start to tire later on in games.
“He’s a very good blindside flanker,” said Leonard.
“There are too many good fetchers in South Africa to play him at No 6, but he’s a very good ball carrier. He’s the ideal player for that because he can jump in the line-outs.” - Cape Argus