DURBAN – No matter who Rassie Erasmus picks for his Springbok second row, he is sure to have a case of “lock, stock and two smoking barrels,” to borrow from English movie director Guy Ritchie.
The Bok lock stocks have indeed seldom been better if you consider that - injury permitting - by the World Cup next year, Erasmus will have an embarrassment of riches in Eben Etzebeth, Lood de Jager, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Franco Mostert and RG Snyman, while bubbling under are bright new things in JD Schickerling and Marvin Orie; not to mention a slightly older hand in Ruan Botha.
The scary thing is that if all five of the frontrunners are fit and battle-hardened and the current lock pairing of Mostert and Snyman might not make the match 23 for the Boks’ World Cup opener against New Zealand in about 13 months’ time with the revelation yesterday that Erasmus wants to give Etzebeth a starting cameo against Argentina this weekend.
Etzebeth is fit again after nine months of recovery from a complicated shoulder injury. De Jager, meanwhile, is making good progress after undergoing pectoral muscle surgery and he could come into contention towards the end of the Rugby Championship, while Du Toit could force his way into the starting line-up, unless Erasmus wants to use him off the bench as cover for both blindside flank and lock.
Mark Andrews, one of the greatest locks this country has produced, has followed the progress of his second row successors, and his observations are both revealing and encouraging.
Running the rule over these five prime contenders, Andrews makes the following elucidations: “Mostert has the heart of a lion, he plays with his rev counter continually in the red. “He will never let you down ... he is not the biggest of guys but (he) doesn’t back down. I have a concern that size may prevent him from become a truly world class lock. I can tell you that it is intimidating when you play against a team with two world class, 2m-plus locks. It gives their team a real presence.”
Andrews says that 23-year-old RG Snyman has been a revelation this season.