Is it finally Even Roos’ time to shine in Springboks’ No 8 jersey?

Springboks’ loose forward Evan Roos tackles Australia flyhalf Carter Gordon

Springboks’ loose forward Evan Roos tackles Australia flyhalf Carter Gordon during a Test match in 2023. Picture: WIkus de Wet / AFP

Published Mar 10, 2024


The Springboks’ first alignment camp of the year has concluded and the 43 players invited would have been eager to impress ahead of a busy international season that kicks off in June.

Coach Rassie Erasmus invited a mixture of young and experienced players, with no European or fit Japan-based players available for the camp.

This week IOL Sport has looked at the backs who had the chance to state their case at the camp, and now we look at the loose forwards.

There is an embarrassment of riches when it comes to top-class loose forwards in South African rugby, while a few of them are also plying their trade at overseas clubs and thus were not invited to the first camp. But across the border, Erasmus will again have plenty of players to select from come the June and July Tests against Wales, Ireland, and Portugal.

Versatility is probably the big plus for the Boks among their loosies. Plenty of players have the ability to transition between the side of the scrum and the back of it.

This will give Erasmus and his coaches peace of mind when it comes to their back row and players who can step in when called upon. But it will also be a headache when it comes to selection time, especially looking at the overseas loose forwards that still need to come into the reckoning.

Eighth man

Evan Roos:

He’s had an injury-hit start to the new season, but that hasn’t taken anything off Roos’ physical play. He is making a case for himself to be among the Bok loosies to replace the retired Duane Vermeulen. A strong finish with the Stormers in the Champions Cup and United Rugby Championship (URC) can state his case further.

Kwagga Smith

Although Smith has been one of the best Bomb Squad members in the last couple of years, he will also target that eight-jersey as a means to get into the starting team. The double World Cup winner has done well at the back of the scrum for the Boks and can do the job if it’s needed.

Celimpilo Gumede

One of the Bulls’ brightest talents at loose forward this season. His versatility will make him a valuable asset for the Boks if he continues this trajectory he is on. Gumede is a good runner with the ball under the arm, and his work rate is outstanding, especially on defence.

Cameron Hanekom

Just like his teammate Gumede, another proper prospect at the Boks’ disposal. He has an imposing running style but knows how to take the gaps too when on the attack.

Hanekom still needs more exposure at URC level, but if he keeps this work rate and plays up, it will definitely get him to the top.


Marco van Staden:

The 28-yearold is arguably the in-form fetcher in South Africa and is putting in shift after shift for the Bulls. Van Staden has grown immensely as someone who plays towards the ball and knows how and when to poke his head into rucks looking for turnover ball possession. That is what he can bring to the Boks, especially if Deon Fourie is no longer in the picture at national level.

Elrigh Louw

Louw will have a point to prove, especially with the rise of the talented youngsters at the Bulls. He has had a taste of the Springbok jersey and will want more. His strong running with the ball in hand and tireless work on defence are two of his strong traits in the game. He is also a very versatile loosie who can slot in at eighth man if needed.

Ruan Venter

Has taken the challenge head-on of changing the fortunes of the Ellis Park team in the national set-up. He is another player who has been in good form for the Lions. The 21-year-old is a marauding, nononsense ball carrier, and can slot in at lock as well.