Home Sport Bok berths on the radar for Augustus and Green

Bok berths on the radar for Augustus and Green

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Rassie Erasmus has said that at any time, the Springbok coaching staff are tracking at least 70 players across the globe to make it difficult for any golden nuggets to slip through the net.

Northampton Saints’ Juarno Augustus in action with Munster’s Gavin Coombes and Munster’s Tom Ahern. Picture: Action Images via Reuters, Andrew Boyers

Mike Greenaway

Rassie Erasmus has said that at any time, the Springbok coaching staff are tracking at least 70 players across the globe to make it difficult for any golden nuggets to slip through the net.

Technology allows for that, and it will be a comfort for overseas-based players to know that they are being watched.

The English Premiership and the French Top 14 are followed closely, and South African fans following those leagues will have seen a host of players putting their hands up for a first call-up or a recall.

The friendly against Wales on June 22 in London is unlikely to see too many front-line Boks in action, and it might be the ideal opportunity for Erasmus to look at some fresh blood at Twickenham.

The July 20 Test against Portugal in Bloemfontein will similarly see fringe players in action, as it comes the week after what surely will be a bruising fortnight against Ireland.

In England, two former Sharks teammates, Jean-Luc du Preez and Thomas du Toit, have been stating strong cases.

Du Toit is flourishing at Bath and has become a crowd favourite.

He is loving his rugby, and has scored an astonishing 11 tries this season while excelling in his bread-and-butter work in the scrums.

Erasmus is likely to recall Du Toit, given he has injury concerns at loosehead prop, including a big concern over Steven Kitshoff.

The three Du Preez brothers will always be in the greater Springbok picture, more so twins Dan and Jean-Luc.

The latter has been exceptional for Sale, and at the weekend, he had a compelling duel with incumbent Bok and Leicester bruiser Jasper Wiese.

Du Plessis’ ability to cover lock, flank and No.8 will make him attractive to the Springbok coach.

Erasmus loves versatile players, and Du Plessis fits that bill. He was close to the Bok squad last year, and played in the August 23 match against Argentina in Buenos Aires.

Du Toit, who is thriving under the coaching of Johann van Graan at Bath, played in that same game against the Pumas, and was unlucky not to go to the World Cup.

Another South African star in the Premiership is former Stormers loose forward Juarno Augustus.

Last week he ran riot in Northampton’s 90-0 demolition of Gloucester, but the No.8 should not be judged on that game. He has been consistently good for the Saints, and at times almost unstoppable with his charges off the back of the scrum.

Erasmus can’t help but notice that the 26-year-old Augustus has matured since his heady days as the 2017 World Junior Player of the Year and the star of an SA Under-20 side that included Manie Libbok.

He is into his fourth year at Northampton, and playing alongside experienced England stars such as Courtney Lawes has helped him improve his discipline and work rate.

Still in England, Erasmus knows that this is the year that the electric Harlequins fullback Tyrone Green qualifies for England.

The Jeppe High School old boy left the Lions for London in 2020, and like Augustus, he is in the form of his life at the age of 26.

Green recently said that he yearns for a Springbok call-up, but if it doesn’t come this year and Steve Borthwick invites him to play for England, he will take it.

The Boks are well stocked at fullback, but if injuries strike, Erasmus should consider the attacking skills of Green, who was phenomenal for Quins in their narrow defeat to Toulouse a fortnight ago in the Champions Cup semi-final. Green is the type of player that new Bok attack coach Tony Brown would love to work with.

Earlier this year, there was talk of Ruan Ackermann returning to South Africa to play for the Lions in an attempt to break into the Springbok fold.

He is 28, and it is getting close to now or never if he is to follow in the footsteps of his famous father, Johan.

He played for the South Africa A team in 2017 and shortly after joined Gloucester, where his father was coaching.

Ackermann is comfortable in the second and back rows, and next week’s Challenge Cup final against the Sharks gives him a great opportunity to state his case.

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