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Bok camp will buzz with these five players that lit up derby matches


There were some outstanding performances in the last couple of local derbies in the URC by players recently called up to the first Springbok alignment camp.

Emirates Lions’ Sanele Nohamba runs at the opposition during the BKT United Rugby Championship, Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria, South Africa on 27 January 2024. File Picture: Steve Haag Sports, INPHO, Shutterstock (14319525w)

There were some outstanding performances in the last couple of local derbies in the URC by players recently called up to the first Springbok alignment camp.

In the latest instalment, Gauteng dominated the coastal sides with two wins at the weekend as the Lions triumphed over the Sharks, and the Bulls at long last broke their drought against the Stormers in Pretoria.

Today, Leighton Koopman and Mike Greenaway look at five outstanding players who made a case for themselves ahead of the Bok alignment camp next week.

Ruan Nortje

If the Boks ever wondered how they would replace their top-tier No.5 locks, they don’t have to look further than the Bulls’ line-out ranker.

Nortje was an absolute thorn in the side of the Stormers and helped power them to a 40-22 win. He disrupted the line-out ball of the Cape side time and again, and secured his side’s possession in this facet without any trouble.

Nortje’s work rate with the ball in hand and off the ball was excellent as he tackled his way through the Stormers’ ball carriers. He will have ticked another box as he prepares to go into camp with the national team.

Johan Grobbelaar

Whether it was at the back of a rumbling rolling maul, throwing in at the line-out or just shooting like a missile into the defence with the ball under his arm, Bulls hooker Johan Grobbelaar made a nuisance of himself from a Stormers point of view.

He scored two sensational tries and was tireless when he was on the field. Grobbelaar’s accurate throwing-in allowed the Bulls to set up rolling mauls almost at will.

He also did the dirty work, especially when his team defended on their tryline. There were plenty of rucks he got stuck into and the knock to his left eye is a testament to his toughness.

Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu

The 22-year-old has been magical every time the Stormers decided to let him loose. During the first part of the season, it was as a starter, and he tore defences apart with his direct running, but he also sports some silky sidestepping.

The Bulls felt it when the utility back came on in the second half, and maybe the Stormers had to unleash him a bit earlier in the clash.

Feinberg-Mngomezuliu made an immediate impact when he stepped on and touched the ball a couple of times, gliding past defenders with near ease. He definitely put his hand up ahead of the alignment camps, even after only recently returning from an injury.

Ruan Venter

The 21-year-old celebrated his call-up to the national alignment camp with a thunderous performance against the Sharks.

He has grown into a blindside flank role similar to that of Pieter-Steph du Toit and it is no coincidence that they have similar physical proportions — Venter is 1.98m and weighs in at 120kg. That is a lot of beef to throw about in the loose exchanges.

The product of the Paarl Boys High factory has a bright future ahead of him. He played a big role in the Lions outplaying the Sharks forwards and with the Bok loose forwards ageing, he is one for the future.

Sanele Nohamba

Every time the little fellow plays a starring role for the Lions, the Sharks must scratch their heads at their brain implosion in chasing him from Kings Park. Nohamba was exceptional against his old team at the weekend. He scored a try and set up two more.

More importantly, he confirmed his versatility to Erasmus by playing a blinder at scrumhalf after having impressed at flyhalf for most of the season. This makes him invaluable to coaches and we know Erasmus loves backs who can cover more than one position from the bench.

At 25, Nohamba is coming into his prime and has everything to play for.

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