PART 2: Top 50 post-isolation Springboks
CAPE TOWN – Has the lack of sport during the lockdown got you down? Well, don’t worry any longer. Today we bring you Part 2 of our list of Top 50 post-isolation Springboks.
Again, there was absolutely no science used in coming up with this list, which means you can disagree with us as much as you like. In fact, we would encourage you to engage with us to let us know where we missed the mark, or where we hit the nail on the head.
It's completely understandable that different people will have different opinions, so, please hit us up on our social media platforms and tell us who would make your Top 50 list.
In today’s list of 40 to 31, we have a couple of World Cup winners and one of the biggest bad boys of South African rugby.
40. Joe van Niekerk (52 caps)
Like Bob Skinstad, Joe van Niekerk could have gone on to be the greatest number 8 the game has seen had his career not been curtailed by a series of injuries. When he was on the field, he was a marvel to watch. When he wasn’t, the team struggled, such was his influence on the game. He last played for the Springboks in 2010, but he went on to make a name for himself in France, and is today regarded as one of Toulon’s greatest ever players.
39. James Dalton (41 caps)
James Dalton’s try against France in 1997 led to one of the most iconig images in South African rugby. The determination to get to the try line despite a French player tugging on his jersey showed the type of player that Dalton was. He was driven, and he put his body on the line, leaving everyting on the field. Of course, he’s also remembered for one of the most infamous incidents in Rugby World Cup history.
38. Cheslin Kolbe (14 caps)
There is a legitimate argument to be made for Cheslik Kolbe to feature much higher in this list. His ability create something from nothing is second to none. When he gets the ball and is given some space to have a go at players, he’s near impossible to stop. He’s one of the most versatile outside backs in the world, able to switch between either wing and fullback with ease. The have been numerous calls – by Nick Mallett – to try him at scrumhalf. He’ll probably be a revelation in that position too. He has scored seven tries in 14 Tests so far, and will definitely become one of the greats if Springbok coaches coontinue to trust him and give him opportunities.
37. CJ van der Linde (75 caps)
The big tighthead prop was one of the first names on Jake White and Peter de Villiers’ team sheets. He was a hard scrummager who dominated his opponents and left a mark on the game. He was one of the important cogs in White’s World Cup winning side of 2007.
36. Andre Snyman (38 caps)
For some time after the 1995 World Cup, Andre Snyman was one of the best inside centres in the world. But, like many players before and after him, his career was severely hampered by injury.Had he had a bit of luck on his side, he would have featured at both the 1999 and 2003 World Cups, and who knows, his experience would have been valuable to Jake White’s side in 2007.
35. Francois Steyn (67 caps)
What? Francois Steyn is only number 35? The guy could play everywhere in the back line, could slot kicks from the parking lot, and was one of the most gifted players in his generation. He was that good. He probably still is that good. Unfortunately, Steyn has not always been the most dedicated player to the green and gold. He turned his back on the team for three years, only coming back to play in the 2019 World Cup. It’s a shame really, as at 21, the Grey College Old Boy had the potential to become the greatest ever player to don the jersey.
34. Ricky Januarie (47 caps)
For a brief period between the 2003 and 2007 World Cups, it looked like Ricky Januarie would usurp Four du Preez and become the Sprinboks’ first choice scrumhalf. He wasn’t your traditional South Africa number 9 who kicked the ball away at the base of the scrum, he was nippy with ball in hand, and was able to get quick ball to the backline. Unfortunately for him, Jake White’s plan to win the World Cup meant Januarie was often used as an impact player instead of a starter. He did eventually get his time in the sun, and who can forget his winning try against the All Blacks at Carisbrook in 2008?
33. Bongi Mbonambi (36 caps)
Bongi Mbonambi has done well to move ahead of Malcolm Marx in the Springboks pecking order. His ability to find his man at the lineout nine out of ten times was a key weapon that helped the Boks win the World Cup last year. He’s come a long way from where he was a few years ago when many rugby “fans” didn’t feel he was in the team on merit.
32. Breyton Paulse (62 caps)
The original “Pocket Rocket” who could create opportunities out of nowhere and was very dangerous with ball-in-hand. He ended his Springbok career in 2007, with an impressive haul of 26 tries, which at the time was good enough to place him second behind Joost van der Westhuizen on the list of leading try scorers for the men in green and gold.
31. Henry Honiball (35 caps)
When the Springboks went on an impressive unbeaten run in 1997 and 1998, Henry Honiball was the general in the backline. He did well in getting the backline moving forward, and was also pretty solid in defence.