Mark Keohane and Oliver Keohane have picked Johan Goosen and RG Snyman respectively as the two players who they are most hoping to see back in Springbok green come the end of year tour.
RG Snyman’s injury enforced absence from the Springbok setup has been notable not only in the lack of his individual presence but also the way in which his fitness affects the dynamic of the forward pack. Luckily, having recovered from an horrific knee injury and freak burn accident, Snyman should be scrumming down for the Springboks again this November.
South Africa have historically been blessed with good stock at lock, but recent years have seen an exceptional depth of talent in that department. The World Cup winning Springbok side had the luxury of starting Eben Etzebeth and Lood De Jager, while having Franco Mostert and RG Snyman sit on the bench.
The four were potent not just because of their individual power, but because of how each complemented one another. RG Snyman’s value is in his ability to fulfil a similar role to that of Etzebeth or De Jager. Snyman for 30 minutes could be an enforcer, albeit with skill, speed and finesse, while Mostert – the smallest but arguably most mobile of the four – would be allowed to play a lot more in the loose.
Mostert is a menace in his contributions to games, consistently topping tackle counts and rucks hit, but he is often allowed this freedom to roam off the back of the dominance that Etzebeth, De Jager or Snyman build in the tight.
When Mostert was asked to switch to lock this year after playing 60 minutes first on the flank his impact was (obviously) vastly different to that of a player running on fresh in the second half to specialise at lock.
What RG Snyman’s return allows, is for pressure to be alleviated off Etzebeth, De Jager and Mostert, who over the British & Irish Lions series and Rugby Championship carried a physical load more demanding than ever before. The result can only be longevity for all and increased energy over the 80 minutes for those three players.
His return will also see the return of the sorely missed bomb squad, where Etzebeth will most likely continue to start at number 4, but the bench will read De Jager/Snyman and Mostert. It is a very different scenario having two fully fit starting locks come off after half time for another pair who are equally capable of starting, or having one new lock come on and the other (Mostert) replace a flank, as opposed to having the one starting lock play the entire game and the starting flank tasked with moving in to replace the other lock later, as has been the case for the Springboks at stages this year.
I do believe, if fully fit, that all four should feature as often as possible in the same match day 23, because the combination of their talents makes for relentless opposition. But players are not bulletproof, and there will be injuries. The comfort in having RG Snyman back is that an injury to one of South Africa’s locks will no longer throw as big a spanner in the works of the Springbok game plan.
Goosen’s stocks have risen since his arrival at the Bulls. He was sensational in the Currie Cup, playing with the freedom associated with his earliest years when he made the Springboks as a 21 year-old.
Heyneke Meyer, back then, said Goosen would become the next Dan Carter and it may have put the mockers on him because he never quite took his game to the next level in his brief international career.
Goosen would spend a lot of time overseas, playing for Racing Metro and then Montpellier. In between he retired, took time out of rugby for a year and had a couple of matches for the Cheetahs.
He was outstanding for Montpellier in winning the European Challenge Shield while playing at outside centre and he has been superb for the Bulls playing at flyhalf. His goalkicking strike rate has also been at 86 percent.
Bulls coach and 2007 World Cup winning coach Jake White, in an article I have done on Goosen for SA Rugby Magazine, described Goosen as that rare breed of player who has ‘a point of difference’.
White said he was hopeful that Goosen’s time with the Bulls would propel him back into the national equation and the Bulls coach was convinced that Goosen was good enough to add value to the world champion Springboks.
‘He is really talented. He has got everything, defends well and has unbelievable speed. He is the sort of guy who can play 10, 12, 13 and 15. He is an incredible athlete and I am amazed that he hasn’t played many more Test matches for the Springboks,’ said White.
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