It's not the end of the world. Five takeaways from the Springbok Showdown
DURBAN – The Springbok Showdown at Newlands on Saturday did not earn rave reviews for the quality of the rugby but it was not all doom and gloom. Mike Greenaway looks at five things we can take from the game.
It’s not the end of the world
Yes, this was a letdown more than a showdown, but it was never going to be a spectacle given the fact that the players were drawn from the length and breadth of the country, and barely trained together ahead of the game.
Cohesion was always going to be elusive and you could see the players’ frustration at the inability to string multiple phases together.
I think a better indication of the health of our rugby was the Super Fan Saturday double header, where players that had been training together for months had an understanding of what they were trying to do.
Nohamba is a class act
Sharks scrumhalf Sanele Nohamba came through nicely in Super Rugby earlier this year, placing him on the Springbok radar, and the Showdown was further opportunity for him to state his case.
He made the most of it, showing off a variety of skills – from snappy passing to deft grubbers.
For such a young player, he plays with impressive composure.
It will be reassuring for Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber to know that the scrumhalf future in this country is well taken care of with the likes of Nohamba and Herschel Jantjies.
Penxe unveils himself
Winger Yaw Penxe, 23, has stood out for the struggling Kings in the Pro14 for some time now and his selection for the Showdown was just reward.
He showed that he is comfortable in higher company and is surely going to be on the shopping list of the bigger unions.
A Junior Springbok in 2017, he is an industrious player who is never far from the action.
He probably would have scored a try had he not been obstructed by Damian Willemse when he was chasing a Nohamba kick.
Bok loosies in form
If the Boks do make it to the Rugby Championship in Australia next month, it will be pleasing for Nienaber to know that his captain Siya Kolisi is building nicely towards his best form after that knee injury he suffered in February, while his most experienced player Duane Vermeulen is in fine fettle.
Kolisi had a valuable spell of game time following his comeback in the Super Fan game and looks well on course. He made some telling tackles and his try was well taken.
Vermeulen was typically physical and had a very busy afternoon. The veteran is clearly motivated to play a major role against the touring Lions next year.
Loosehead prop Steven Kitshoff just keeps getting better and at age 28 he is now in his prime.
Kitshoff was dominant in the set scrums for the Gold team and Cheetahs youngster Luan de Bruin would have learned a great deal from the World Cup winner.
With Beast Mtawarira now retired, depth at loosehead is under the spotlight.