CAPE TOWN - There are a few positions in the Springbok team that have sparked some talk since they kicked off their Rugby Championship campaign.
One of the most talked-about positions or players has been wing Raymond Rhule, who looked good when the Boks opened their Championship proceedings against Argentina in Port Elizabeth, but since then he’s failed to convince that he’s the best fit out wide.
The Cheetahs' wing was last week released to join his team for their PRO14 match against Ospreys, while Dillyn Leyds, who has had very little game time in the Bok jersey until Saturday, made his first start against the Wallabies.
Also, the Stormers utility back showed that he can become a real asset in the Springbok backline with time. He never looked out of place and played a key role in many of the Boks’ attacks. He certainly didn’t disappoint, and I hope that Saturday was only one of many starts for the pacey, skilful player that also boasts top organisational skills. So I’d definitely back him against the All Blacks.
Then there’s midfield - or outside centre in particular - another area that has made the hot-topic list quite a bit this season.
Jan Serfontein and Jesse Kriel have been the Boks’ starting Rugby Championship centre pairing and, although Serfontein has delivered more often than not, Kriel still has to some way to go before he can (rightfully) be cemented at No 13.
Kriel has mixed decent spells with more unsatisfactory ones until now and, although he has the pace and ability to organise defences, his lateral running has resulted in many halted Bok attacks and the wings’ space being cut down.
A move to the wing for Kriel doesn’t seem like an unattractive option, while someone like Lionel Mapoe is a player I believe can do with another look. The fact that Serfontein and Kriel “know each other” shouldn’t be one of the main reasons keeping another player out.
Lukhanyo Am is also one that should be looked at. Am’s silky footwork and his ability to attack the gainline can be a big boost for the Boks, while his defensive work adds to him being an attractive option at outside centre. Also, don’t forget about his ability to read the game. Then there’s his massive work rate that often sees him getting stuck in at the breakdowns as well.
If either Mapoe or Am is brought into the group to cover outside centre alongside Serfontein at No 12, Kriel can get minutes off the bench on the wing.
In addition, I don’t know what to say about the Ruan Combrinck situation anymore, but again, he can add massive value to the Springbok set-up.
Combrinck can, of course, offer backup (at the least) at wing and fullback, and his monster boot is a bonus. Point is, he is a Bok must.
But these are long-term options and the Boks need to field their best possible line-up against the All Blacks this weekend.
I’d say Leyds is a definite yes for the Newlands fixture, while Andries Coetzee is the best bet at fullback at the moment. Also, seeing that none of the midfield options that I like are currently in the Bok squad, I’d have to stick with Serfontein and Kriel.
Up front, I definitely think the tighthead prop position needs to be looked at and it might not be the worst idea to give a guy like Trevor Nyakane a start with Dreyer on the bench.
And at loosehead ... well, although Tendai Mtawarira couldn’t be faulted against the Wallabies, I’d like to see Steven Kitshoff boost the Boks with his ability to make an impact at scrum time and his huge work outside the set-piece.