CAPE TOWN – A Billy Vunipola-like ball-carrier, a big hitter and a try-scoring, up-and-coming lineout forward with the world at his feet. That is the picture Western Province coach John Dobson painted of Juarno Augustus ahead of their Currie Cup clash against the Pumas on Friday night (kick-off 7 pm).
The promising back-row forward will start at No 8 at Mbombela Stadium as Province hope to make it two in a row after beating the Free State Cheetahs 32-0 at a rain-soaked Newlands last week.
Augustus has had his fair share of injuries in his young career, but despite that, he has been able to show what he can do when not nursing a niggle - most notably at the World Rugby Under-20 Championship last year, where the barnstorming loose forward was named the Player of the Tournament and also crossed the tryline in each of the Junior Boks’ five matches to take his tally to seven - the most by any player.
But besides his awareness and game-reading ability that helps him be in the right place when there’s an opportunity to dot down, his work at the breakdown and his physicality in the carry also stood out. Those are traits that will never not be wanted, and tonight in Nelspruit he will have another chance to continue to announce his presence in senior rugby.
“If you’re looking at a Duane Vermeulen and what Augustus brings, they’re similar if you had to look at youngsters coming through,” Dobson said during the team announcement press conference on Thursday.
“He’s got the world at his feet. I think he’s got a massive future...he’s special.”
Augustus showed a glimpse of his ability to sniff out the whitewash when he scored a superb try after going up the blindside against the Cheetahs. And last week, before they faced the men from Bloemfontein, Dobson said: “If you looked at Billy Vunipola’s GPS stats they would be appalling.”
“Trokkie wouldn’t be like that, but he still has the same impact in a ball-carrying way as Billy. He is a big-carrier and hitter. We have been working on his lineout skills because when he was at U20 he wasn’t really a lineout forward, but he is improving there, which is really exciting for his future.”
So, I guess it’s not hard to see why a player like Trokkie has a lot to dish up against the Pumas on Friday.
The Western Province team is:
15 Dillyn Leyds (captain), 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Ruhan Nel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 SP Marais, 10 Josh Stander, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Juarno Augustus, 7 Kobus van Dyk, 6 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 5 JD Schickerling, 4 Ernst van Rhyn, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Ali Vermaak.
Replacements: 16 Chad Solomon, 17 Caylib Oosthuizen, 18 Michael Kumbirai, 19 Chris van Zyl, 20 Herschel Jantjies, 21 Dan du Plessis, 22 Craig Barry.