CAPE TOWN – While both Western Province and the Blue Bulls are without a large number of their Springbok stars, there are still a few Boks - Blitzboks included - who can add some international flavour to their Currie Cup opener.
Here are six of them.
After joining Province in 2017, the centre quickly showed that he compliments his massive Sevens-standard work rate with a top defensive ability, a solid passing game and an eye for space - whether that’s spotting or creating it.
He might be best known for his Sevens pedigree, but it’s obvious that he gets this game and that his time with the Blitzboks didn’t erase that. It’s been obvious from the start, and he’ll be eager to make up for the time injury robbed him of in 2019.
The queue of tighthead props WP have in their camp is downright enviable, and what must give other teams’ glasses an even greener tint is the quality of those Cape-based No 3s.
It might be an eyebrow-raising string of words given the 12-cap Bok’s young age (24) in tighthead years, but if the “old” Wilco Louw stands up - or packs down - on Saturday and in every other game this season, WP could be well on their way to another impressive run.
Not like there haven’t been some enjoyable displays from the front-rower recently, but if we can see the Louw from 2017 - that breakthrough, kept-Frans-Malherbe-out-of-the-Stormers-lineup Louw - WP will have no equal when it comes to the rock around which the scrum is built.
“Chaos” is what WP coach John Dobson wants to create so his knife-like backs can wreak havoc, and given what we know the gents in blue and white can do in broken play, it’s pretty self-explanatory why the new Stormers chief wants to bring that into their game more.
WP may be missing the likes of Damian Willemse and Dillyn Leyds, but a quick scan over Senatla’s Sevens and fifteens highlights would show just how quickly he can pounce. It doesn’t even just have to be in broken play, he can step up for duty down touch any time, as long as he gets the ball. No questions asked.
Lood de Jager
The Bok lock will be a welcome addition to a relatively young Bulls pack after injury, and while it’s his influence in the lineout that stands out, there’s no doubt that his presence in the engine room will be enough to have an effect on those around him.
Then there’s that automatic eagerness to get back to business in such a big year.
De Jager will be a man on a mission, and that’s seldom a good thing for his opposition.
His introduction to Super Rugby was fire.
The wing made the Super Rugby Team of the Week after his debut, and while that was quite the feat, he didn’t slack off after his incredible bow.
Specman’s raw pace makes him a weapon any day of the week, and that acceleration off the mark and awareness make him a mean attacking package.
He’s not one any team can afford to take their eyes off.
We didn’t see as much of the talented scrumhalf as most would have liked this year, and while many a Super Rugby opportunity passed him in 2019, he has a golden opportunity to show just what the Bulls starting line-up has been missing - albeit a Currie Cup opportunity instead of Super Rugby.
His crisp pass off the base of the ruck, speed, ability to speed up a game, the threat he poses around the fringes and that feel for the game makes Papier more than just a flavour of the (2018) season. And he has a chance to prove that on Saturday. Motivation loaded.