Jacques van der Westhuyzen.
Jacques van der Westhuyzen.

OPINION: Not many new faces expected in Springboks squad later this year

By Jacques vd Westhuyzen Time of article published Mar 4, 2020

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It’s still early days in this year’s Super Rugby competition but already it looks like there won’t be too many new faces running out for the Springboks when Scotland and Georgia visit South African shores in the middle of the year.

With only a handful of Rugby World Cup winning stars no longer available for the Boks - Schalk Brits, Francois Louw and Tendai Mtawarira among them - expect the same group of players who did duty in Japan last year to play in the first Tests of this season after the completion of Super Rugby.

While there is plenty of time to go until those Tests and for the young players to make an impression, right now few have actually stuck up their hands.

The exception is the Sharks’ 22-year-old fullback Aphelele Fassi, who has stood out in a successful, happy and winning team.

Surrounded by classy players and World Cup winners, the lanky No 15 has taken his game to new heights in 2020 and will almost surely be a Bok come July, should he stay fit.

Fassi’s rise has corresponded with that of the Sharks, proof that playing in a winning team makes all the difference when it comes to standing out or not. But that is taking nothing away from the youngster, who has been brilliant in all departments.

Not too many other young players have grabbed their chance like Fassi has, and that will be of some concern to national coach Jacques Nienaber.

Reports last weekend suggested that Wandisile Simelane, the young Lions centre, could also feature for the national team this year, but while the 21-year-old is full of talent and promise, has he played enough at the highest level to be spoken about as a Bok in July? I don’t think so.

Simelane was a star at Under-20 level, but he has had limited opportunity in Super Rugby and hasn’t even started for the Lions this season.

His performances in the watered down and weak Currie Cup last year cannot be used as a measure of his ability to play for the Boks.

Hopefully, with the Lions struggling somewhat and the other centres in the group yet to wholly convince, Simelane will get a chance to show what he can do.

The only other player in South Africa who has yet to play for the Boks but who looks like he might have the potential to be a world-class star is Cheetahs hooker Joseph Dweba, who plays in the Pro 14.

Some of the more established players who weren’t part of the World Cup squad but who’ve started the season well and could also feature in the Bok alignment camps over the next few months include Ox Nche, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Curwin Bosch, Lizo Gqoboka, Dylan Smith and Scarra Ntubeni.

Among the youngsters who’ve yet to turn out for the Boks, Sanele Nohamba, Jeremy Ward, Tyrone Green, Hacjivah Dayimani, Juarno Augustus, Jaco Coetzee, JD Schickerling and Salmaan Moerat look like they could get national exposure, too, at some stage this year as Nienaber and Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus look to find the best of the emerging talent.


The Star

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