Springboks barometer: Lood de Jager holds the key to Boks’ No 5 lock

Having missed the Rugby World Cup due to injury, Lood de Jager will look to pick up where he left off as one of the Springboks’ key players in 2024

Having missed the Rugby World Cup due to injury, Lood de Jager will look to pick up where he left off as one of the Springboks’ key players in 2024. Photo: Juan Mabromata/AFP

Published Feb 13, 2024


With the United Rugby Championship restarting this weekend with two South African derbies in Johannesburg and Durban, it will mark the start of the run-in to the play-offs and provide several players with the last chance to impress the Springbok coaches ahead of the international season starting in July.

Tests against Ireland and New Zealand await, while an experimental side could feature in the one-off clash against Portugal and a possible friendly match with Wales.

Independent Newspapers takes a look at the players who have been impressive enough so far to secure their place in the Bok squad for the 2024 Test season. Here, Leighton Koopman features the No 5 lock.

The incumbent: Lood de Jager

Despite missing the World Cup last year due to a heart condition, De Jager has resumed his playing career in Japan and has already produced some excellent performances, including scoring on his comeback.

If he returns, he will most likely be the shoo-in for the Boks at No 5.

Before his injury, he was in the saddle for the World Cup and will want to pick up his Bok performances where he left off last year.

The contenders: RG Snyman, Franco Mostert, Marvin Orie, JD Schickerling, Ruben van Heerden

There’s plenty of depth and experience in this position for the Boks, and the question is if Rassie Erasmus, Bok coach, will continue with the men he has at his disposal, or has it become time to look beyond some?

Erasmus’ three World Cup winners in Snyman, Mostert and Orie won’t let the team down in any situation, and they’ve been good backups to De Jager. The good news for South Africa is that Snyman will return earlier than expected for his club side Munster after recovering from an injury sustained at the World Cup, so he should be firing on all cylinders by the time the international season comes along.

Mostert, Orie and De Jager are all 30 years or older and with the next World Cup three years away, maybe it’s time to look at the next generation coming through.

Since returning to South Africa, Ruben van Heerden has taken command of the Stormers’ line-out and with him being a versatile lock, could provide an option for the Boks.

He has that grunt in the loose play and is an excellent line-out caller and reader of opposition throw-ins.

Another player who could make his return to Cape Town is JD Schickerling, who has been on the radar of Erasmus and former head coach Jacques Nienaber before.

He was part of the Bok squad during the 2018 November Tests but didn’t make his debut.

His return probably has something to do with his ambitions to represent South Africa and it wouldn’t surprise if Erasmus played a role in it.

It is time for the Boks to look at number fives who can step into the boots of their stalwarts who have been excellent, and if it is not against Ireland, the Test against Portugal and possible friendly against Wales provides the opportunity to rope in Schickerling and Van Heerden, or both.


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