CAPE TOWN - For all the fears of the “Great Trek” that is set to occur after the World Cup later this year when a number of leading Springboks will further their careers abroad, there are at least some positive signs at the Stormers that South Africa’s conveyor belt of young talent is showing so signs of slowing down.
The Stormers are brimming with youthful zest, and will be looking for this group of players to further their education on the upcoming tour of New Zealand and Australia.
They were particularly industrious in the bonus-point victory over the Jaguares at Newlands on Friday night, with rookies such as scrum-halves Herschel Jantjies (22) and Justin Phillips (24), utility back Damian Willemse (20) and forwards Juarno Augustus (21), Cobus Wiese (21) and Jaco Coetzee (22) all shining brightly.
With the Boks set to be rotated over the course of the four-match tour Down Under, these youngsters will really be put to the test.
“I am really excited about some of the youngsters who are playing. When a top player comes off, a youngster replaces him and delivers the goods,” said Stormers coach Robbie Fleck.
“This is when you have to get the balance right. Let the senior guys lead and make the calls on the field, but the youngsters’ job is to bring energy.”
The performances of half-backs Jantjies and Phillips would have been particularly pleasing. There would have been concern in the Stormers’ camp when veteran No9 Jano Vermaak was struck down a fortnight ago, but the way Jantjies, in particular, has stepped up has been a revelation.
He stole victory from the gaping jaws of defeat a couple of weeks ago against the Lions with a last-gasp try, and showed on Friday that it was no fluke with another superb break close to the tryline to get over for his second try of the campaign.
However, it is not just his try-scoring heroics that have been impressive, but also his overall game management, speed to the breakdown and growing confidence to bring his inside runners into the game with little pop-passes.
“He played very well,” Fleck said. “It’s just time in the saddle for young guys, isn’t it? Just giving them the confidence that they are being backed.
“We know how dangerous he is around the fringes. He showed that again, and his basics are good and he is keeping the team on the front foot.”
The Stormers touring squad:
Juarno Augustus, Jaco Coetzee, Damian de Allende, Dan du Plessis, Jean-Luc du Plessis, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Eben Etzebeth, Corne Fourie, Herschel Jantjies, Steven Kitshoff, Siya Kolisi (captain), Michael Kumbirai, Dillyn Leyds, Wilco Louw, Frans Malherbe, SP Marais, Bongi Mbonambi, Salmaan Moerat, Ruhan Nel, Scarra Ntubeni, Sergeal Petersen, Justin Phillips, JD Schickerling, Joshua Stander, Chris van Zyl, Cobus Wiese, Damian Willemse.@ZaahierAdams