This past weekend of Super Rugby saw the Stormers leap up the points table with an impressive performance against the Hurricanes.
Gary Boshoff in his weekly News24 column writes that the Stormers’ tight five, by many considered to be the weak link in a very talented line-up, showed that they’ve finally come of age. They scrummed impressively while the mobility of Andries Bekker and Schalk Brits (and later Ross Skeate) provided the backs with an oversupply of support runners throughout the match. This is off course a very important added value to a game plan which seeks to exploit the opportunities offered by the ELVs.
Then there is that man Schalk Brits, who after two seasons at Newlands is finally finding his best form. On present form (he’s finding his jumpers in the lineouts and is certainly not a weak link in the scrum department anymore) he must surely be getting the attention of the Springbok coach and the national selectors.
The success of the Stormers and the return to winning ways of the Bulls is good news for South African rugby in general. Despite struggling to keep up with the rest, individual players at both the Cheetahs and Lions have shown excellent form. This augurs well for the upcoming Welsh tour. Players like Duane Vermeulen, Meyer Bosman, Wian du Preez and Cobus Grobbelaar have been playing their hearts out week after week and is ready to be called up for higher honours at any time.
However, what must indeed by pleasing to the Springbok coach is the form of the black players presently on show in the Super 14. It should not be difficult to select a Springbok side that will reflect a significant improvement on the representivity levels we’ve become used to in recent years.
Conrad Jantjes is a shoe-in at fullback while Bryan Habana (who is back to his very best) will be on the left wing. The right wing birth can go to either Akona or Odwa Ndungane. The twins have been in scintillating form and deserve to be in the starting line-up. JP Pietersen is the incumbent, but his form has been indifferent thus far in the Super 14. The Springbok coach has made it clear that form will dictate selection.
Even at centre, De Villiers will be hard pressed to ignore the talents of Waylon Murray and Adrian Jacobs. Don’t be surprised if Jacobs is selected for the Welsh Tests! In my opinion he is the one form player that Dick Muir has never once given an extended run since he took over from Kevin Putt two years ago. Jacobs has matured and has grown in confidence and stature and is much more than the impact player that Muir considers him to be. It is no secret that De Villiers holds Jacobs in high esteem.
Add to that the present form of Enrico Januarie as opposed to the subdued performances of Fourie du Preez in a directionless Bulls side, and we might see Du Preez starting from the bench in Bloemfontein.
That leaves us with the forwards where Gurthro Steenkamp has steadily improved his shares since the Rugby World Cup, with a number of impressive performances for the Bulls. He is finally starting to be his rampaging self again, the way I remember him when he was still playing for the Cheetahs. Soon Brian Mujati and Tendai Mtawarira will qualify to play for South Africa. Though both of them are originally from Zimbabwe they will certainly be welcome assets for the Springboks and South Africa in the years to come.
I am therefore very confident that we will see a “highly transformed” Springbok side in the months and years to come. In fact the Springbok team for the first Test against Wales, if selected on present form, could contain no fewer than six black players in the starting line-up!
So while not enough of our talented black players are playing in the Super 14, the ones presently fortunate to do so have indeed stepped up to the plate and are putting up their hands for selection.Tweet