Bakkies Botha is one of the unsung heroes of Springbok rugby. Pictures Ian Landsberg
Bakkies Botha is one of the unsung heroes of Springbok rugby. Pictures Ian Landsberg

PART 4: Top 50 post-isolation Springboks

By Lunga Biyela Time of article published Apr 2, 2020

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TODAY we get into the top 20 of our daily series of Top 50 post-isolation Springboks and this is where things begin to get interesting, and it becomes harder to rank the players.

These are some of the biggest names in South African rugby over the last 30 years, and an argument could be made for each of them to be named in the top 10.

As stated before, there’s absolutely no science used here, and Part

,

and

have already angered some folks on social media.

During the week, we’ve been encouraging our readers to come up with their own lists, and who knows, one day we could collate a Top 50 that involves more than just one man’s opinion.

Having a look at today’s players, and those named in the previous three parts, you could probably name the 10 that will be named in Friday’s Top 10 greatest post-isolation Springboks.

These are the players who come in at 20 to 11.

20. Handre Pollard (48 caps)

There was a lot of excitement around the country when the Baby Boks won the Junior World Championships back in 2012. Pollard was the backline general, and there was a lot of belief that he could go on to become the next big flyhalf of South African rugby. The former Paarl Gimnasium boy is now a World Cup winner and has made the number 10 jersey his own despite facing some strong competition for it. Over the last couple of years, Pollard’s boot has been one of the Springboks’ most reliable weapons.

19. Rassie Erasmus (36 caps)

In his heyday, the Springboks’ World Cup-winning coach was part of one of the greatest loose trios the country has ever had, playing alongside Andre Venter and Gary Teichmann. Erasmus, who hails from the same Eastern Cape town as Danie Gerber, was a handy ball-carrying flanker who was way ahead of his time. His ability to study the game has served him well in his coaching career as well.

18. Gary Teichmann (42 caps)

The Zimbabwe-born Gary Teichmann was a fantastic leader. He succeeded the World Cup-winning Francois Pienaar to the role of Springbok captain, and he more than held his own. He led the side to an impressive Tri Nations win in 1998, which also coincided with the team’s record-equalling winning streak that lasted for 17 Tests. For the 1999 World Cup, he was dropped for the other Zimbabwean-born number 8 who also went to Hilton College and his absence in the side was felt during that tournament.

17. Morne Steyn (66 caps)

With 736 Tests points, Morne Steyn is second on the most Springboks points list behind Percy Montgomery. The kicking machine’s ability with the boot has also seen him 390 points in the Rugby Championship, placing him second behind Dan Carter. He was a member of the team that won the 2009 Tri Nations, and was also the top points scorer at the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand. He was Mr Reliable.

16. Andre Joubert (34 caps)

Jouba was the original Rolls Royce of Sout African rugby. A classy fullback who made everything look easy, he was a beautiful rugby player to watch. His Test career ended in 1997, at the dawn of the professional era, but he played an important part in helping the side win the World Cup two years earlier. And remember, he played in the final with a broken hand.

15. Andre Venter (66 caps)

The former Cheetas and Cats man was an important player in every side that he played in. He defined the blindside flanker’s role that today’s players are compared to him. As stated before, his back row partnership with Rassie Erasmus and Gary Teichmann helped the Boks go on an impressive run of 17 consecutive Test wins.

14. Eben Etzebeth (85 caps)

The big lock has been synonymous with the Springboks ever since making his debut as a 21-year-old back in 2012. His biggest weapon is his physicality, which comes in handy in close quarters, and when the Boks need to out-muscle their opponents. If he can clear his name following last year’s infamous Langebaan incident, he’ll carry on being a menacing presence for many opposing locks for years to come. If not, then it’s possible his Test career won’t last for much longer.

13. Siya Kolisi (50 caps)

We’ve all heard the story about how Siya Kolisi had to sneak into a tavern in Zwide to watch the Boks in the 2007 World Cup final against England. We’ve heard about his inspirational tale from rags to riches, and how he became the first black Springbok captain. And last year, we watched him lead the team from the front to ultimately lift the William Webb Ellis trophy. What a tale.

12. Duane Vermeulen (54 caps)

We all feel a little more optimistic about the Springboks’ chances when Duane Vermeulen is on the park. The big man is one of the most dangerous ball carriers in the world, and has formed an impressive partnership with Pieter-Steph du Toit and Siya Kolisi in the back row. As he’s on the wrong side of 30, it’s still to be seen what his future involvement is with the Springboks. He’s been a joy to watch over the years.

11. Bakkies Botha (85 caps)

Unfortunately, Bakkies Botha just misses out on a place in the top 10. He was a fantastic servant to the game, serving the Springboks with distinction 2002 and 2014. His second-row partnership with good friend Victor Matfield at Test and franchise level is the stuff of legend. During his time in the national team, he was one of the hardest men in world rugby, which made him a nightmare for everyone he came up against.

@KingBiyela

IOL Sport

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