With Super Rugby suspended due to the coronavirus, it’s an ideal time to look at the Springboks’ options in each position.
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 July Tests against Scotland and Georgia.
We will take a look at the leading player in each position this season at the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers, and make our final selection. Let’s look at right wing …
The former Springbok No 14 didn’t have the best of starts to the season. One moment he won’t remember too fondly was his knock-on with an open try-line against the Sharks in Durban, and he has scored just two five-pointers since.
But the change in the Bulls’ fortunes over the last few games has seen Hendricks regain some of the form that made him a Test player in 2014 before his health-enforced absence from the game for a few years.
While he has lost a yard of pace now that he is 32, Hendricks is still as busy as ever, putting himself about with ball-in-hand, and doing the dirty work on defence.
The 22-year-old is a ‘thrill machine’ when he has the rugby ball in his hands. Green has a serious sidestep and true straight-line speed that can compare with the best in the competition.
Having also played at fullback in his professional career, Green has shown that he possesses a strong kicking boot as well.
Despite being part of a struggling Lions team, who have won just one match out of six, Green has been the stand-out player. He has made 16 tackle busts and 398 running metres.
But he will have to work on his defence during this enforced break if he wants to contend for a Springbok spot. Green has nine missed tackles, the joint-most by a South African wing alongside Seabelo Senatla.
With Sbu Nkosi missing the first four matches due to injury, former Lions star Tambwe has impressed in the No 14 jersey in his first season in Durban.
While he has scored three tries in five matches, it is his work-rate that has caught the eye. The Sharks play a varied style that sees their lethal backs run hard at defences, but they also employ a clever kicking game that requires their wings to chase high balls with intensity, and Tambwe has worked hard in that regard.
The 22-year-old, who was born in the DRC, has also made six turnovers in his five appearances, but might have to take a back seat to Springbok star Nkosi for the rest of the season.
The former Southern Kings speedster scored his team’s very first try in the 2020 competition as he read a perfect cross-kick from Herschel Jantjies against the Hurricanes.
And Petersen was an energetic presence for the Stormers in the opening few weeks as he benefited from his side’s willingness to involve the outside backs.
But things have gone quiet in recent matches for the 25-year-old from Port Elizabeth. Despite racking up 423 playing minutes across six matches, Petersen has made just 20 runs and 212 running metres – stats which prove that the ball is not coming his way on a regular basis.
The former Springbok tourist has had to be satisfied with chasing kicks downfield, and has even put his head into rucks at times.
Cheslin Kolbe is the undoubted first-choice right wing, but in Super Rugby, Tyrone Green has stood tall in a losing cause for the Lions.
super.rugby and foxsports.com.au