POTENTIAL WAITING IN THE WINGS
Springbok coach Allister Coetzee has a wealth of local talent at his disposal
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.