PRETORIA – Bulls fullback Warrick Gelant has probably done enough this year to become a Springbok, but will it be enough in the eyes of coach Allister Coetzee to depose incumbent Andries Coetzee?
Beyond the conundrum of having to juggle with the reliable and safe Andries Coetzee and the explosive and exciting Gelant, Bok boss Coetzee has plausible reasons not to make drastic changes to a side that is not broken.
But that could lead to fears of players like Gelant being left to carry tackle bags and water bottles for the month-long tour in Europe.
But Coetzee has given Gelant plenty to be hopeful about that he will return from this tour wearing his Springbok blazer instead of carrying it on his arm, like all uncapped players.
Coetzee’s praise of Gelant has been glowing since he last worked with him at the beginning of the Rugby Championship in August, and that has been brought about by 22-year-old’s scintillating form for the Blue Bulls in the Currie Cup.
There had been signs of Gelant coming of age and a true contender for the Bok No 15 jumper in June against the touring French Barbarians, where he was at his devastating best in scoring two tries and creating another in the second match at Orlando Stadium in Soweto.
Coetzee believes that Gelant’s presence in the Springbok squad will help him even grow further, and spending time with assistant coaches Franco Smith and Brendan Venter will enhance his game.
“What is important to me is that when he was in the squad, he understands what the next level is. He goes back, keeps performing, and he has really done well – and I’m pleased that Warrick is back in the mix,” Coetzee said this week.
“It is just about his growth – the more he rubs shoulders with the players here (at the Boks), the more he will blossom.
“There are a few things we can work on among the Springbok coaches to make sure he improves.”
Having recovered from a fractured cheekbone and two knee injuries over the past two years – which resulted in him missing out on the Springbok Sevens adventure to the 2016 Rio Olympics – the Knysna-born hot-stepper can probably wait another week or two in carrying his blazer, tackle bags and water bottles.
But it can’t be more than that, because Gelant’s time to become a Springbok has finally arrived.