The Bok No 9 jersey in Nohamba's sights, but Jantjies still best in SA
CAPE TOWN – With Super Rugby almost at the halfway mark and suspended due to the coronavirus, it’s an ideal time to look at the Springboks’ options in each position for new head coach Jacques Nienaber and director of rugby Rassie Erasmus ahead of the Tests against Scotland.
We will assess the leading players this season at the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers, and make our final selection. Let’s look at scrumhalf…
Bulls: Embrose Papier
The former junior superstar has had to wait for his chance as Ivan van Zyl had been preferred initially, but whenever he has been on the pitch, he has shown why he is a Springbok.
Having missed out on the World Cup, Papier would’ve been eager to prove why he should be in the Bok mix in 2020. He has had some eye-catching moments, with his blistering pace around the fringes his biggest asset – resulting in seven tackle-busts and three line-breaks.
He will also need to keep working on his tactical kicking game if he hopes to earn a Test recall later this year.
Lions: Andre Warner
He moved across the Jukskei to get more game-time, which he has received, but former Bulls halfback Warner has not set the Lions alight.
He has tallied a whopping 517 kick metres in only four matches – which places him seventh in his position in the tournament.
That has been part of the problem for the Lions, who have battled due to losing many senior players since last season and injuries in 2020.
The Cape schoolboy, who played Craven Week for Western Province, is quite tall for a scrumhalf at 1.84m and has the size to take on defences, but the 26-year-old doesn’t do that enough to take some of the pressure off flyhalf and captain Elton Jantjies.
Sharks: Sanele Nohamba
While Louis Schreuder has started most of the games, youngster Nohamba has been a revelation whenever he has been on the field. His more experienced teammate plays a measured game based around tactical kicking, but Nohamba tears up the ‘percentage’ script.
The 21-year-old is lethal at the rucks – he keeps the backline going by looking for flyhalf Curwin Bosch most of the time, but just when you least expect it, Nohamba snipes himself.
He has tremendous speed across the ground, and has filled in at flyhalf when necessary, showcasing his all-round skills.
Nohamba has even contributed in defence, making six turnovers.
Stormers: Herschel Jantjies
The Springbok halfback has been playing with the swagger of a World Cup champion. Jantjies has taken his game to the next level, combining his lightning-quick service and footwork with smart reading of the play.
He has scored three tries in five matches, made five tackle-busts, and four turnovers. Jantjies is a hungry defender too, and has shown significant improvement with his boot with 666 kick-metres from 30 kicks – second only to All Black star Aaron Smith among scrumhalves.
Those statistics display just how much Jantjies is able to vary his game.
Sanele Nohamba will become a Springbok one day, but the man to beat at scrumhalf is Herschel Jantjies.
Statistics: super.rugby and foxsports.com.au@ashfakmohamed