Spring­bok coach Al­lis­ter Coet­zee has a wealth of lo­cal tal­ent at his dis­posal

Saturday Star - - SPORT - MIKE GREENAWAY

RE­GARD­LESS of what tran­spires this morn­ing in North Har­bour be­tween the Boks and the All Blacks, coach Al­lis­ter Coet­zee will have had com­fort in the knowl­edge there are qual­ity re­in­force­ments stack­ing up in South Africa should they be re­quired.

Spring­bok depth has in­creased this year and whether the Boks get a hid­ing this morn­ing or suf­fer a sur­feit of in­juries, there are qual­ity play­ers in just about every po­si­tion that can be called up for the Tests against the Wal­la­bies in Bloemfontein and the All Blacks at New­lands.

In New Zealand, they re­fer to the play­ers on the cusp of in­ter­na­tional se­lec­tion as the “next cabs on the rank”, and South Africa has its queue of mini-buses ready to ram­page.

At the Sharks alone there are a hand­ful of play­ers who can step in if re­quired.

Cur­win Bosch spent a month of men­tor­ship with the Boks ahead of the June se­ries against France and can step in if there is a prob­lem at fly­half af­ter this Test; out­side cen­tre Lukhanyo Am sim­i­larly is a player who has spent time in the Bok set-up and is good to go should there be a prob­lem at No13 with Jesse Kriel.

Loose­head prop Thomas du Toit can­not be un­der­rated given his abil­ity to play both tight and loose. And Sharks cap­tain Ruan Botha is steadily build­ing a rep­u­ta­tion as a fu­ture Spring­bok lock, and was picked for the SA ‘A ‘team in June, not that Coet­zee is strug­gling in this department, given he has world class play­ers in Etze­beth, De Jager, Mostert and Du Toit.

There are Li­ons play­ers who will be avail­able for the home Tests, no­tably scrumhalf Ross Cronje, who was a late with­drawal for to­day’s match be­cause of a stom­ach prob­lem, re­sult­ing in Fran­cois Hougaard be­ing el­e­vated to the start­ing line-up and Rudy Paige be­ing called up to the bench.

As for the Bulls, Coet­zee will have been keep­ing an eye on full­back War­wick Ge­lant. The 22-year-old full­back is not far off Bok se­lec­tion, par­tic­u­larly if An­dries Coet­zee gets crocked, and in the front row Lizo Gqoboka is just about re­cov­ered from in­jury.

The Chee­tahs, who strug­gled in their open­ing fort­night of Pro 14 over­seas, have strike play­ers in Sergeal Petersen, who can cover wing and full­back; a fine cen­tre in their cap­tain Fran­cois Venter; and flank Oupa Ma­hoje is another just about fit af­ter in­jury.

Loose­head prop Ox Nche is cer­tainly a Bok of the fu­ture but it might be a bit soon to blood him. The endof-year-tour to Europe might see him get­ting his chance.

The Li­ons ob­vi­ously have prime cen­tres in Ro­han Janse van Rens­burg and Harold Vorster. The pair could eas­ily start for the Boks should the cur­rent duo break down against the All Blacks. We know about their qual­ity.

Flanker Kwagga Smith is also back from sus­pen­sion and adding to the loose for­ward depth.

As for po­ten­tial Boks down in the Cape, it is dif­fi­cult to see too many of their young stars who are ready to go straight into a Test match against the Wal­la­bies or the All Blacks. Damian Willemse is one for the fu­ture, but he would be be­hind Bosch in the peck­ing or­der that is cur­rently headed by El­ton Jan­tjies and Han­dre Pol­lard.

A Prov­ince player who is with the Boks and is per­haps not get­ting the chance he de­serves is Dil­lyn Leyds.

He is on tour – clearly so he can be blooded into the Spring­bok en­vi­ron­ment with an eye on pick­ing him in time to come.

But he could be ready, par­tic­u­larly in a home game at New­lands, should the back­line ranks be dec­i­mated by in­jury this morn­ing in New Zealand.

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