In the latest instalment of our rugby series, Ashfak Mohamed takes a look at the local Springbok contenders. Who would you pick at No 5 lock?
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 Tests against Scotland.
We will assess the leading players this season at the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers, and make our final selection. Let’s look at No 4 lock …
Bulls: Andries Ferreira
Formerly from the Lions and Cheetahs, Ferreira’s adventure to the Hurricanes in New Zealand didn’t quite work out last year, as a recurring knee injury put paid to any game time before he even made his debut.
The 30-year-old front lock has made a fresh start in Pretoria, where he attended Affies and played for Tuks and TUT briefly, and it hasn’t quite gone to plan either.
Ferreira has just made 18 ball-carries in four matches, as well as 20 tackles, and that lack of impact saw him dropped – along with another senior lock in Juandré Kruger – for the Bulls’ only win against the Highlanders, and the tour to Australia and New Zealand.
Lions: Ruben Schoeman
A 24-year-old from Grey College and University of the Free State, Schoeman made a relatively late entry into provincial rugby, with his debut for the SWD Eagles coming in 2018.
So, not much was known of him when he began the Super Rugby season for the Lions, having turned out for them in the Currie Cup last year.
The 1.99m, 124kg second-rower’s biggest impact has come as a ball-carrier, with 44 runs in five matches – the joint fourth-highest in the competition among locks – which resulted in 203 running metres.
But his contribution on defence has not reached the same heights, with only 26 tackles.
Sharks: Ruben van Heerden
The move from the Bulls to the Sharks in 2018 has proved to be the right one for Van Heerden. Still a youngster at 22, the two-metre tall lock has stood out as a ball-carrier in the tight loose for the log leaders, with 37 runs – including seven tackle-busts.
Van Heerden does the dirty work that allows lock partner Hyron Andrews and the Sharks loose trio to roam free on attack.
He has also played his part on defence, with 45 tackles and three turnovers.
To take the next step to the Springboks, though, he might have to become a bit more aggressive and add a hard edge to his game.
Stormers: Salmaan Moerat
Having been touted as a future Springbok captain, the former Paarl Boys’ High stalwart has had to wait for his turn to wear the Stormers No 4 jersey regularly, and is now making the most of his opportunity.
He is not as flashy as other locks, but that is exactly why he has proved to be a key figure in the Stormers pack.
Moerat is not shy to fly into rucks, add his weight in the scrums and mauls, and put his body on the line. He has made 49 tackles in 364 minutes, just one less than Marvin Orie of the Lions, who has played 91 minutes more, across six matches.
This tally places Moerat ninth on the leading tacklers’ list among locks in the tournament.
If Super Rugby (or another version of it) restarts after the lockdown, he would want to get more involved as a ball-carrier.
Ruben van Heerden has the better stats, but Salmaan Moerat has made more of an impact as a front lock this season.
super.rugby and foxsports.com.au