Rikus Pretorius deserves a proper unveiling when Super Rugby restarts
CAPE TOWN – The Stormers would have had a lot of things they wanted to do this season, and one of them must surely have been to give Rikus Pretorius a proper unveiling.
Until now, the promising midfielder hasn’t got a Super Rugby start yet, he has featured off the bench, and he is one of the players head coach John Dobson was excited about at the start of the season. With good reason.
Things have of course taken a drastically different turn with the coronavirus outbreak, and there is no absolute certainty as to when Super Rugby will resume this year, if even.
The situation is a mess for all kinds of reasons - socially and economically - and the fact that a player like Pretorius might not get the chance to come through at Super Rugby level this season is one of the lesser concerns. Lesser, but still a pity.
His physicality and size is one of his obvious asset-worthy contributions. But there is also his versatility.
During his outstanding displays for the Junior Boks last year, the 21-year-old yet again announced himself as one for the future. He is a hard-running centre. He can play flat. Overall, there can be no doubt about his abilities.
Welsh international and British & Irish Lion Jamie Roberts has until now - in 2020 - pulled on the No 12 jumper for the Stormers, and recently there have been talks of him having to travel back to the United Kingdom to renew his visa, which is set to expire at the end of April.
During a press conference last week Dobson, however, confirmed that the 33-year-old had decided to stay in South Africa as he would not be allowed back into SA due to the country closing its borders to all foreign nationals from countries that are considered high-risk with the coronavirus.
“No, he is not going back,” Dobson said.
“It was on the cards. He had to get his visa renewed. Obviously, if he flew tonight, he would not be able to return. So he has decided to stay.
“He will (have to renew his visa). He had until the end of April. He was going to use the fact that we weren’t playing this weekend. So he won’t be flying for a while now. If Super Rugby resumes before June, I am sure he will play for us.
“I know that he had to go and get his visa by the end of April. If he can’t, then he is entitled to return home. In which case, he would not return to us because he would not be allowed. So, it is a fluid situation.”
While that would have meant that the Stormers would be without the experience of Roberts - who has started in all of their games this season - when Super Rugby resumes, it would have also made Pretorius the likely starting No 12 replacement.
But it’s not like Pretorius needs such a situation to warrant his chance, he is good enough all on his own and, frankly, Roberts hasn’t exactly nullified any give-Rikus-a-chance talks with otherworldly performances.
It’s not a matter of if Pretorius deserves a Super Rugby break, but rather when he will get it.
And when that chance comes, I’m pretty sure he will do that unveiling justice.@WynonaLouw