With Super Rugby suspended due to the coronavirus, it’s an ideal time to look at the Springboks’ local options. Today Ashfak Mohamed looks at the tightheads.
WITH Super Rugby almost at the halfway mark and suspended due to the coronavirus, it’s an ideal time to look at the Springboks’ options in each position for new head coach Jacques Nienaber and director of rugby Rassie Erasmus ahead of the planned July Tests against Scotland and Georgia.
We will assess the leading players this season at the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers, and make our final selection. Let’s look at tighthead prop
Bulls: Trevor Nyakane
The disappointment of getting injured in his very first Rugby World Cup match last September would have fuelled Nyakane’s drive in 2020, and he has shown why he was a strong contender for the first-choice No 3 position last year.
He has helped a young and inexperienced Bulls pack to achieve a 90 percent scrum success rate, and has made 13 runs with ball-in-hand.
The 42-cap Bok has made 23 tackles, but will look to avoid adding to his penalty tally of four if the tournament resumes.
Lions: Carlu Sadie
Still only in his early 20s, Sadie is making a strong case to become a Bok this year. Having made the big move last season from the Stormers, Sadie has shown that he is much more than just a powerful scrummager.
He has made 29 ball-carries, including three tackle-busts (no mean feat for a tighthead), as well as 27 tackles.
But Sadie has been blown up far too often across his six matches, with seven penalties conceded – the joint second-most among tighthead props in Super Rugby.
Sharks: Thomas du Toit
The giant 1.89m, 128kg former Paarl schoolboy appears to have come of age in 2020.
The 25-year-old has always been an impressive ball-carrier for a man his size, and that strength of his has come to the fore again with 20 runs, while he has put himself about with 37 tackles. But while the Sharks’ scrum is ranked second-last in the competition with an 82 percent success rate, Du Toit put in a credible performance in his last encounter againt Steven Kitshoff as the Sharks held off the Stormers in Durban.
Stormers: Frans Malherbe
The barrel-chested 2019 World Cup winner doesn’t have to prove much after his stellar performance in Japan last year, but he has shown that he is still up for the fight in 2020.
And for all his scrummaging prowess, it is in the tight-loose – especially on defence – where Malherbe is such a valuable commodity for any pack of forwards.The 38-Test Bok has made 46 tackles in six matches, which places him second among tightheads behind the Brumbies’ Allan Alaalatoa, who has made 20 extra tackles, but in 105 minutes’ more game-time.
Malherbe, though, has missed 11 tackles as well.
All of Sadie, Nyakane and Du Toit are worthy of starting for the Boks, but Malherbe is the man in the saddle and has done enough to hold on to the No 3 spot.
super.rugby and foxsports.com.au