Raymond Rhule in action for the Springboks against Argentina on Saturday. Photo: EPA/NIC BOTHMA

DURBAN - When the Boks whitewashed the French, there was no need for concern that the inexperienced wings scored no tries, but when hard pressed, questions could have been raised.

However, it looks as if the patience has paid off as both Raymond Rhule and Courtnall Skosan earned their stripes on Saturday as an attacking blueprint with pace and width begins to emerge.

Wings can be the most deadly weapons in a rugby team, but it is a weapon that needs an active trigger finger to make them fire.

The Springboks have always been blessed with some of the greatest try scorers around, such as recent heroes Bryan Habana and JP Pietersen, but even Breyton Paulse, James Small, Pieter Rossouw, Chester Williams, and of course Carel du Plessis, can all count themselves as royalty out wide.

However, a lot of these men made their names in the sport thanks to a plan that suited wide play, as well as teammates who could get the ball to them to create the magic. And sadly, that is what has been lacking from the Boks recently.

The disastrous 2016 year that saw the Boks only cross the whitewash on 20 occasions across 12 games, could well have been the death knell for the careers of such greats as Habana and Pietersen.

They struggled to make a mark in a team that could not tie its own laces, never mind construct silky backline play. In fact, Habana scored three of those tries, and Pietersen one, so perhaps the axing of the leading try-scorer can be seen as even harsher.

In saying that, the Boks are a team of fresh faces now, with a new captain, young leaders - in the likes of Siya Kolisi and Eben Etzebeth - and exuberant willingness. It was time to give the back three a makeover.

Rhule and Skosan were the form players of the Super Rugby season, along with Andries Coetzee, so their selection was more than warranted. They went on to have a reasonable series against the French, but they, like many fans, would have been waiting for that monkey of a try to get off their backs.

Preparation into the French series paid its dividends, and some extra time together in a camp that has a healthy culture building has showed even more value. Rhule and Skosan were retained, patiently, for the opening game against the Pumas and the trigger was finally pulled.

It also is no surprise that their tries came later on in the piece as the Springboks realised that going lateral, with no penetration, was getting them nowhere. Space was created, and gaps were worked as both Skosan and Rhule pounced on chances that were created from a plan that was designed to give them room to work.

Rhule and Skosan have all the potential in the world, and some pretty handy individual traits to boot. In Super Rugby, for the last two seasons, there has hardly been anyone more clinical in finishing off a move than Skosan for the Lions. The corn-rowed speedster showed his brilliance in a side that made that extra effort to give him room, and then he did the rest.

Rhule is a speed machine, and they say there is no substitute for it. Again, playing at the Cheetahs, Rhule was used to space being created for him in order to blitz into gaps and grab five pointers.

He too has an amazing eye for the line, and won’t be hauled in over 50 metres if given the chance to break free. If the Boks can keep working hard in the middle and third quarter, then they can rely on the firepower outside.

As the team gels more and more, and the plans start executing, especially in attack, these men out wide will find their feet, find the space, and start to rain down tries on the opposition.

A collective Springbok effort is always called for in the line-outs, the scrums, and even forward and back play, but when it comes to successful try-scoring, a full team effort is required.

The Boks have worked pace and width into the manifesto, and the men on the ground are starting to enact that plan, so expect more good things from the speedsters out wide.

The Mercury

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