Mark Keohane picks his five newbies for the Springboks’ November tour. If not, the Boks, then PLEASE the SA XV for the midweek matches.
They’re unlikely to do it but my goodness, how amazing would it be if we could move from some of the Bok driftwood and reward red-hot form with some sizzle up north on what promises to be a cold and wet November.
The Bok coaches don’t easily change so, at best, my five bolters are likely to make it only as matches against Munster and Bristol, which will be no different to what they are already experiencing in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship.
Top of the pops is Emirates Lions outside centre Henco van Wyk.
This kid has X-factor. In Lukhanyo Am’s injury-enforced absence, No 13 is a problem for the Springboks. Veteran utility back Jesse Kriel will start the November series at No 13, but how explosive would it not be to see Van Wyk immediately given a Test opportunity.
We saw what Kurt-Lee Arendse and Canan Moodie could do when given an opportunity on the wing. They thrived on debut in the Rugby Championship, but they only got the chance because of injury to established players.
Kriel’s best Test years were 2013-2015. Van Wyk, right now, is a greater threat.
I’ve loved the opening month of the URC, even more so because these bolters have come to the fore.
The Lions have been the surprise of the league. They have been bloody great to watch and their attitude, defensively and with ball in hand will make them a fan favourite to any neutral.
Outside of the 21-year old Van Wyk, the 19 year-old loose-forward Ruan Venter has been imposing and inspiring.
Venter is another product of the rugby nursery Paarl Boys High. They have produced so many good players in the past decade.
Lions No 8 Francke Horn is also from Paarl Boys High, as is DHL Stormers No 8 Evan Roos.
The DHL Stormers utility back Sasha Mngomezulu is a sensation. He is the SA under 20 flyhalf and captain and, in his first start for the Stormers at inside centre, scored 22 points. He didn’t miss with a penalty or conversion attempt.
He was brilliant earlier in the year in leading the SA under 20s to four overseas wins against England, Ireland, France and Wales.
He should at least make the midweek squad.
My understanding is that another former Paarl Boys High product, Gianni Lombard has leapfrogged the chasing pack to be included in the SA XV at flyhalf. Lombard, who has overcome two serious knee injuries in the past three years, appears to have moved ahead of 20 year-old Lions colleague Jordan Hendrikse.
Handre Pollard and Elton Jantjies are both unlikely to feature for the Boks in November. Pollard is injured and Jantjies could be unavailable because of personal family-related issues. The Vodacom Bulls utility back Johan Goosen is said to be starting at No 10, with Damian Willemse likely to start at No 15.
I have really been impressed with Boeta Chamberlain for the Cell C Sharks.
Yip, he is another from the Paarl Boys High factory. In the absence of Lionel Cronje and Curwin Bosch, Chamberlain has owned the No 10 jersey and he was particularly good against Glasgow in the Sharks 40-12 win.
A lot has been made of Jan-Hendrik Wessels as the future of Bok rugby when it comes to hookers. But I wouldn’t pick him in a darts team, let alone as hooker. He was a brilliant schoolboy loosehead prop and I believe his international future is in the No 1 jersey, as opposed to the No 2 jersey.
Wessels is more Os du Randt than Bismarck du Plessis.
Of the younger hookers, the one who has got my attention is the DHL Stormers Andre-Hugo Venter.
He is the son of Bok hard man and legendary flanker Andre Venter. Test rugby is in his genes. It is more a case of when he plays for South Africa; not if he plays.
Expect to see him somewhere on tour in November.