CAPE TOWN - Over the last few weeks, our rugby writers have been debating their Springbok choices from No 15 to No 1 for the upcoming series against the British & Irish Lions. Today the focus is on the No 3 prop …
ASHFAK MOHAMED’S CHOICE: FRANS MALHERBE
The rock of the Springbok scrum at the 2019 Rugby World Cup, Malherbe has continued to provide that solidity for the Stormers this season.
And as the season has worn on, he has become more involved in general play too.
He is much more active as a ballcarrier, and as usual, makes his fair share of tackles too.
The scrums will be an intense battle against both Georgia and the Lions, so Bok coach Jacques Nienaber is sure to make use of the ‘Bomb Squad’ as well.
Malherbe does have some serious competition, with Trevor Nyakane, England-based Vincent Koch, Carlu Sadie and Thomas du Toit all capable of starting, so there’s enough back-up for Malherbe to “empty the tank” in the first 50 minutes.
WYNONA LOUW’S CHOICE: FRANS MALHERBE
There are not a helluva lot of positions where you can really say the Springboks don’t have solid depth in.
In fact, they’re well stocked all round, and tighthead prop is no different.
While a player like Trevor Nyakane has produced some good impact plays for the Bulls and with someone like Thomas du Toit also in the mix, you simply can’t unseat Malherbe in the front row.
The Stormers’ World Cupwinning No 3 can deliver the kind of consistently dominant outings against the British & Irish Lions that the Boks will certainly be looking for as they continue their forward rampage against international opposition.
Again, South Africa boasts some quality scrummagers, but Marlherbe is the way to go against the Lions.
MORGAN BOLTON’S CHOICE: VINCENT KOCH
Don’t get me wrong, Frans Malherbe would be a fine choice as well, but I believe that the Stormers No 3 has not had the best season so far this year.
He has had a tough time of it in the Rainbow Cup, and has rarely seemed to have the upper hand at scrum-time.
Koch, in my opinion, is the better option – he is a strong carrier of the ball, and a fine footballer around the field, but his scrummaging is arguably unequalled by anyone.
I really do believe he is better than Malherbe.
However, the Boks might just use Koch as an impact player and keep Malherbe on to steady the ship for 60-odd minutes, which is also alright, alright, alright by me.
MIKE GREENAWAY’S CHOICE: FRANS MALHERBE
The incumbent Springbok tighthead is looking increasingly rotund – the TV cameras can be very unflattering towards him when the scrum packs down and his jersey gets pulled up – but his scrumming remains topnotch, so he gets the nod.
No doubt Rassie Erasmus will get him off the pies in the training camps and he will in better shape by the first Test against the Lions on July 24.
Otherwise, there are some very good back-ups: Trevor Nyakane is playing well for the Bulls; Thomas du Toit is getting better and better for the Sharks as he matures (he is now 26); and Carlu Sadie at the Lions has been a revelation in the Rainbow Cup.