Jasper Wiese really knocked the door down, says Bok coach Jacques Nienaber
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CAPE TOWN – When Jasper Wiese left the Cheetahs to join English club Leicester Tigers, he certainly wasn’t thinking about being part of a Springbok squad anytime soon.
In fact, his younger brother, blindside flank/lock Cobus – who had impressed for the Stormers and quickly became a force for Sale Sharks in Manchester – was the Wiese most mentioned in rugby circles as a possible Bok one day.
While he was churning out strong performances for the Cheetahs, No 8 Jasper wasn’t regarded as being part of the Bok picture. And with their omission from the PRO14 competition, he needed to find another place to play top-level rugby – and Leicester was that club.
There was that one Super Rugby Unlocked game in Bloemfontein last October, though, where the Cheetahs beat the Bulls 19-17. That day, Wiese got the better of Springbok star Duane Vermeulen…
But then he left South Africa and quickly found his feet in England, so much so that he is now one of the stars at Leicester.
In the recent European Challenge Cup, where they lost to Montpellier in the final, the 25-year-old topped the charts for most carries (69 in five matches) and most offloads (six).
No wonder Bok coach Jacques Nienaber spoke excitedly about Wiese during a press conference with UK media over the weekend ahead of the British and Irish Lions tour.
It appears as if he has done enough to be part of the 45-man Bok squad that will be announced on Saturday ahead of the first Georgia Test on Friday, July 2.
“Jasper is one of those players – locally, he would’ve been playing almost like trials. But now, he had an opportunity to go and play in the Premiership, and he really knocked the door down on that side,” Nienaber said.
“He is really performing well, and he almost blossomed there and was exposed there, and we got a good look at him. He is playing in a top competition against some of the best players in the world, and I think he is handling himself quite well.
”He is in a good environment, and I must say he is in a good environment – if you look at the high-performance environment at Leicester. He’s got good quality coaches there, and we know Aled Walters (previously head of athletic performance) from the Springboks, who is working on the performance side (at Leicester).
“Jasper is in an environment where he is well looked after from a conditioning and coaching point of view. And there is good communication between us and Leicester. It’s always nice if that happens, if you’ve got that good relationship with a club.”
Wiese is a strong contender to be Vermeulen’s back-up at No 8 after Sikhumbuzo Notshe sustained a season-ending knee injury against the Bulls recently, while Juarno Augustus has also battled with injury and form for the Stormers this year.
Kwagga Smith, who is playing in Japan, is also a contender at the back of the scrum, while Bok captain Siya Kolisi could fulfil a role there if required.
The likes of England-based Dan du Preez and experienced Bulls loose forward Nizaam Carr are playing good rugby at No 8 as well.