Home Sport Former Springbok says team is spoiled for choice at No.10 these days

Former Springbok says team is spoiled for choice at No.10 these days

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Coach Erasmus, then, has options as he begins the building process towards the 2027 World Cup in the position. Nevertheless, the debate surrounding the pivot spot will remain robust.

Jordan Hendrikse of the Emirates Lions will don the famous Green and Gold No.10 jumper on debut against Wales at Twickenham on Saturday. Picture: Nokwanda Zondi, BackpagePix

REMEMBER last October, when South Africans were having major heart palpitations because of Springbok things and one of the biggest debates in the nation was who to pick at flyhalf between Manie Libbok and Handré Pollard?

It seems strange now to think that those were the only two viable options at No.10 then, for truth be told, the recent United Rugby Championship has helped expose a bevy of pivots ready to elect themselves to the position, with Rassie Erasmus’ vote of confidence blessing them.

On Saturday, Jordan Hendrikse will don the famous Green and Gold No.10 jumper on debut against Wales at Twickenham (3pm SA time start), but it could just as easily have been Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu, who will play off the bench, also on debut.

Siya Masuku, playing in that channel for the Sharks, was arguably one of the main reasons the Durbanites claimed the European Challenge Cup.

Earlier this week, the Lions’ Sanele Nohamba was announced as the URC Player of the Season, having played himself to that honour in the No.10 jersey.

Meanwhile, Johan Goosen, who will no doubt be involved in the URC final this weekend for the Bulls against the Glasgow Warriors, cannot be discarded from the debate either.

Coach Erasmus, then, has options as he begins the building process towards the 2027 World Cup in the position. Nevertheless, the debate surrounding the pivot spot will remain robust, and former Springbok captain Jean de Villiers has his own thoughts regarding who should play in the fundamental playmaker role.

De Villiers chewed on the subject in a recent interview at the launch of the second edition of the Betway 12th Man workshop in Johannesburg – a programme to upskill retired athletes after their careers.

“There is no one better than Rassie to make that decision, because he knows where he wants to go with this team,” De Villiers opined, regarding the flyhalf slot for the upcoming Welsh Test, “and he has decided on Jordan.

“I was surprised,” the 109 Test-capped De Villiers continued, “that Masuku was not in the 23, because I think he has been really solid, and he has really changed the fortunes of Sharks.

“Rassie is looking for a certain type of player, and in a way, he might be looking to find a replacement for Damian Willemse in that team, regarding the versatility that he brings to the squad.

“(Willemse) is now injured, and I am thinking (Erasmus) will want to go with a 6-2 split against Ireland. And if you do that, you need that versatility.

“Sacha and Jordan provide that for you in that they can cover 10, 12 and 15 … so, similar to a Willemse.

“You’ll probably see Sacha play close to 40 minutes against Wales as well. I am making loads of assumptions here, but that is where my head is at.”

The absence of Nohamba from the larger Bok squad has also been a hot topic of debate. The 25-year-old delighted in the URC in the No.10 slot, and although initially invited to the Bok alignment camp earlier this year, he was left out on the sidelines in the preliminary squad announcement.

Concussion was accepted as one of the reasons for his omission, but De Villiers also believes that his time has not come just yet.

The Bok legend seemed to agree that Nohamba’s best position might be at scrumhalf, and therein lies one of the issues.

“Where do you select him in the pecking order as a scrumhalf?” De Villiers mused, when considering Faf de Klerk, Jordan Hendrikse, Grant Williams and Cobus Reinach, while sharing the same sentiments of Erasmus a week earlier.

“Yes, he is a talented player and yes, he covers nine and 10, but in terms of what they are looking at at the moment, he is unfortunately just too far down the pecking order.

“But if he continues with that form, and he continues with what he has been doing, he will come into the reckoning.

“I think he did well when he defended at 10, but that is an element of the game where you need to be at your best when you are playing for the Boks because they have a very dominant defensive system,” De Villiers concluded.

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