Sunday Tribune

Balance key to Bok tight five


IN PART two of our build-up to the June Test series against France, rugby writer Jacques van der Westhuyzen looks at the options available to make up the Springbok tight-five. There are players aplenty for coach Allister Coetzee to pick, but finding the right balance will be key. FRANS MALHERBE

Pros: The Stormers man has been around the Bok set-up for a while so he’s got enough Test experience to make him a certainty. He is liked by Coetzee and rated highly and has even been mooted as a possible captain of the national team. A strong scrummager.

Cons: In three years he has only made 15 appearance­s for the Boks and has had some injury worries, too. Has yet to wholly convince when having pulled on the Bok No 3 jumper. BEAST MTAWARIRA

Pros: With 87 Tests he has a world of experience and will almost surely still be a loosehead option at the next World Cup; he is, after all, only 31 years old. Is also considered a leader in the side, having captained the Sharks before, and is a player much respected around the world. Powerful in the scrums.

Cons: He doesn’t have too many faults, other than perhaps not carrying the ball often enough. Looseheads are nowadays supposed to be a little more mobile and involved. Or not? STEVEN KITSHOFF

Pros: The man with the golden touch when it comes to front row play. So important was Kitshoff deemed for the future success of the Boks that Coetzee asked him to return to South Africa from France and he was summarily handed a Bok contract as well. A supposed powerhouse at scrum time.

Cons: For all the hype around him, he’s hardly started for the Boks and appeared in 10 matches, mainly off the bench.

Has yet to be tested properly at internatio­nal level. Also not very mobile around the field. TREVOR NYAKANE Pros: Has proved himself BIG GUNS: From left, forwards, Lood de Jager Eben Etzebeth, Scarra Ntubeni and Franco Mostert during Springbok training. Inset, dynamic Lions hooker, Malcolm Marx, and top right, Bulls prop Trevor Nyakane. at all levels of the game, is a very good scrummager, and also gets involved in carrying the ball. He’s also added the ability to play tighthead prop to his CV, so can be considered on both sides up front.

Cons: There’s not much to fault about the big-smiling, fleet-footed prop. He will, however, be keen to get a Test start or two in June to show exactly what he can do. LIZO GQOBOKA

Pros: He’s been part of the Bok set-up for over a year now, either in training camps or in extended squads, so he knows the ins and outs of the Boks. At 27 he’s in the prime of his rugby career and deserves a Bok call-up.

Cons: Has battled to break into and settle in the Bulls starting team, making it difficult to judge what his scrumming ability is like. RUAN DREYER Pros: he’s been around for a few years now and learned from the best, that is Julian Redelinghu­ys, who was until his neck injury last year SA’S best tighthead. Has shown his worth in Super Rugby; the Lions’ scrum is still the best by far.

Cons: He’s a solid operator, but doesn’t get himself involved much in general play, but then that isn’t what props are supposed to be worrying about. Not much to fault. OX NCHE

Pros: He’s got a great name and is talked about in Bloemfonte­in as being the next Os du Randt. That already puts him in anyone’s good books. At just 21 he’s young and able to learn, but he’s already shown he is a powerful unit, in the scrums and in the loose. A player to be nurtured very carefully.

Cons: He’s young and still naive when it comes to bigtime rugby. Probably still has to learn all the tricks of the front row trade.

Outsiders: Wilco Louw, Coenie Oosthuizen, Jacques van Rooyen, Lourens Adriaanse, Thomas du Toit, Vincent Koch, Jannie du Plessis MALCOLM MARX

Pros: A serious contender for the full-time No 2 position. Would have learned a lot last season under Adriaan Strauss. Not only strong and powerful in scrums, a ball-winner on the ground, a carrier and a defender, too. The new Bismarck du Plessis.

Cons: Some will still have doubts about his throwing into the line-outs, but much-improved this year. Nothing else to fault. BONGI MBONAMBI

Pros: A player who’s grabbed his opportunit­y in Cape Town after leaving the Bulls. Powerful in every aspect of his game and knows the likely Bok jumpers well, among them Pieter-steph du Toit and Eben Etzebeth. Also mobile and involved in general play.

Cons: There’s not much holding him back. Like Marx, perhaps, only his throwing in, but also much improved.


There’s talk of his recall. A proper world-class No 2, with all the experience you’d want and all the class you expect of a Bok hooker. Is in top shape having played in France and will know many of the opposition in June. Ticks every box.

Cons: Will it do the Boks – and the younger players coming through – any good having him start next month but not be involved going forward? Also, how committed will he be to the cause? CHILIBOY RALEPELLE

Pros: He does the basics extremely well – always has done – and will be hungry to play after sitting out the game for two years. There will be determinat­ion in everything he does, exactly what Boks could do with. Solid player, who’s also mobile and strong in defence.

Cons: At 30 he’s not too old, but one’s got to wonder whether his time is up? Is he the future of the Boks in the No 2 jersey? Probably not.

Outsiders: Joseph Dweba, Akker van der Merwe, Robbie Coetzee, Franco Marais, Torsten van Jaarsveld, and, injured: Scarra Ntubeni EBEN ETZEBETH

Pros: He’s got the full package; that is strong in the lineouts as the front ball-winner, he’s powerful as a ball-carrier and he puts in plenty of tackles. He brings grunt to the pack and has proved himself a world class second row forward. Also considered a senior in the team with leadership ability.

Cons: Can lose his cool at times, opting to focus on the man rather than the ball. But nothing else to worry about.


The perfect and ideal No 5 lock, even though he’s comfortabl­e playing at 4 as well. His versatilit­y makes him a certainty for selection, but there’s so much more to him than that. Wins line-out ball, steals ball, carries strongly and regularly and tackles like there is no tomorrow. Pure class.

Cons: Just don’t play him at flank. Nothing to fault in his game.


He’s mobile, and for such a big man he’s also relatively quick across the turf. Does his basics well and can also operate in both locking positions. He seems to never tire and puts in plenty of defence work. A leader as well.

Cons: Hasn’t been in the best form since leaving the Cheetahs for the Bulls and is certainly not in the in-form man right now. FRANCO MOSTERT

Pros: A player who never thinks about himself, but only the team and those around him. Keeps going like a Swiss watch, never stops working and makes plenty of tackles.

Also strong in the line-outs and a regular pincher of opposition ball.

Cons: Not as physically imposing as some of the men he comes up against, but does that really matter? RG SNYMAN Pros: He’s young, he’s confident ... and he’s a giant of a man. He’s shown what he can do at junior level and stepped up well at senior level.

Does the basics well in the line-outs, but also carries strongly and regularly, and a player to be looked after.

Cons: He’s young and has little Test match experience and has shown his feathers can be ruffled. For such a rookie, there’s not much to worry about, though. ANDRIES FERREIRA

Pros: A banker at the front of the line-out for the Lions, a player who is under-rated but, like Mostert, just keeps going and going.

He’s wholeheart­ed and leaves nothing behind. A strong ball-carrier and someone who’s interested only in helping the team win.

Cons: He hasn’t played any Test rugby, or even been involved in training camps, and has some outstandin­g men in front of him in the queue.

Outsiders: Ruan Botha, Jason Jenkins, Etienne Oosthuizen, Jacques du Plessis In conclusion .... Coetzee has enough talent to pick from but getting the right balance and ensuring the bench-sitters add value will be the trick.

There’s no reason for a Bok tight-five to be bullied by any team; they should be very formidable in the scrums and line-outs, with enough quality for some of them to also get involved in general play.

My tight-five for the first Test against France would be, Dreyer and Mtawarira at prop, Marx at hooker, with the locks being Etzebeth and Du Toit.

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