‘Rocket Man’ Stravino Jacobs can give the Bulls some added lift-off
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CAPE TOWN - Stravino Jacobs’ nickname from his days at Paarl Gym is ‘Rocket Man’.
And that’s no surprise, considering his extraordinary exploits at junior level. He made the SA Schools side, and probably would’ve been part of the Junior Springbok team were it not for Covid-19 last year.
The 21-year-old powerhouse wing was also the leading try-scorer for the Blue Bulls Under-21 side in 2020 when they clinched the provincial title.
He has continued to showcase his promise in the senior team, with his 1.80m, 95kg frame proving handy as the Bulls claimed the Super Rugby Unlocked and Currie Cup titles.
But at the moment, he is a bit under-utilised at Loftus Versfeld. Through no fault of his own, the ball has just seemed to go the way of right-wing colleague Madosh Tambwe during the Rainbow Cup SA.
Tambwe has been a revelation, mixing his devastating side-steps with his incredible pace to leave defenders floundering. His finish against the Lions last week was outstanding, as he was able to almost jump out of a tackle to score.
But back to Jacobs. Whenever he gets the ball, something happens. When he came on as a replacement at Ellis Park, he made a dynamic run down the left flank in the build-up to David Kriel’s second try.
Now, that is the kind of impact and damage he could do more regularly if he saw more of the ball. It is not that the Bulls are not playing with width – it’s just that if Jacobs could move closer to the ball, it will result in his team getting over the advantage line more often.
And that can be achieved by shifting him to outside centre. It is something that his coach Jake White has considered previously.
When asked about it a few weeks ago, Jacobs was clear on where his allegiances lie: “I can play wing and centre, but I prefer wing as I am comfortable there and can use my speed there. At centre, you have to organise, look at what’s in front of you and talk a lot and stuff. So, I prefer wing.”
An outside centre does normally organise the backline defence, and must communicate with the back-three combination on attack. But while the defence is the big challenge, it is a role that the experienced Cornal Hendricks could easily fulfil.
The former Springbok wing has blossomed since moving to No 12 last season, and is a good talker on the field anyway.
Jacobs comes across as a rather shy guy who wants his play to do the talking for him, and that can continue should he be utilised at No 13. He has the pace that the
Bulls are missing without Stedman Gans – who is at the Blitzboks at the moment – at outside centre, and would add his physicality into the mix too.
Gans could easily be part of the Springbok squad going forward, considering his form before his injury and hectic schedule that the national team will be facing in 2021.
That is why it would be worth the risk to pick Jacobs at No 13 for the last two rounds of the Rainbow Cup SA, and throughout the Currie Cup after that.