Smiling Rosko Specman brings ‘energy’ to the Springboks team, says coach Jacques Nienaber
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CAPE TOWN - Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber says Rosko Specman is a live wire and a “really good guy to have around”.
With Cheslin Kolbe unavailable due to his late arrival from France and Sbu Nkosi (Covid-19 positive) and Makazole Mapimpi in isolation, Specman and Aphelele Fassi will make their Springbok debuts in the first of two Tests against Georgia, while Jasper Wiese is also in line to make his Bok bow.
Scrumhalf Cobus Reinach has also made the matchday squad, while Frans Steyn and Jesse Kriel will partner in midfield.
Up-front, the most eye-catching name is that of Kwagga Smith at No 8. In the front row, Ox Nche gets a start alongside Bongi Mbonambi, with Trevor Nyakane at tighthead.
“Rosko is a live wire, he brings lots of energy, and is someone who is always smiling and joking. And when it comes to the rugby, he is a real professional,” Nienaber said.
“It is well-documented how successful he was in Sevens. He was part of that Olympic bronze-medal winning team. He’s played a lot of tournaments on big stages.
“On the field he is just so professional and off the field he is a really good guy to have around. He adds a lot of team energy.”
The other wing features the exciting Fassi, whose regular position is fullback, and Nienaber explained that disruptions to the camp – with three players returning positive Covid-19 results at the weekend – necessitated the positional switch.
However, Nienaber said he was impressed by what he had seen from Fassi when training on the wing.
“Aphelele came into the mix, but he had trained with us in the conditioning weeks on the wing, and we all know he is really talented with an incredible skill set,” Nienaber said.
“At franchise level he has obviously played mainly at No 15, but he has slotted in at wing beautifully, and will have the guidance of someone like Willie (le Roux) around him.
“We wanted to give opportunities to guys like Aphelele, Rosko and Jasper, who has also just knocked the door down to earn selection. We’d like to give them a chance in this game to see how they fit into our structures and how we do things. We needed to balance that with getting our rhythm back as quickly as possible and hitting our straps, while giving opportunities to new guys so we can make a proper informed decision when we get to the (British & Irish) Lions Tests.”
Springboks Starting XV: Willie le Roux, Rosko Specman, Jesse Kriel, Frans Steyn, Aphelele Fassi, Handre Pollard, Cobus Reinach, Kwagga Smith, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Siya Kolisi (capt), Franco Mostert, Eben Etzebeth, Trevor Nyakane, Bongi Mbonambi, Ox Nche.
Replacements: Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff, Frans Malherbe, Marvin Orie, Jasper Wiese, Herschel Jantjies, Elton Jantjies, Damian Willemse