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Stars to watch when domestic rugby returns

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Seven players – one from each team to participate in the domestic competition – to look out for once they hit the field.

Warrick Gelant. Picture: Shaun Roy BackpagePix

CAPE TOWN – The mere fact that we’ll be seeing some rugby action from next month is an exciting prospect given the rugby deficiency we’ve had to endure over the past few months.

But just to spike that anticipation a little more, here are seven players – one from each team to participate in the domestic competition – to look out for once they hit the field.

Warrick Gelant. Picture: Chris Ricco BackpagePix

STORMERS: WARRICK GELANT

He has big – or rather slick and massively entertaining – shoes to fill.

Following the departure of the talismanic Dillyn Leyds, the Loftus Versfeld recruit is yet to make his Stormers/Western Province debut, and while he is by no means a slacker when it comes to delivering the goods on attack, it’ll be good to see how he slots in down in the Mother City and if he can be an attacking catalyst.

He probably won’t have too much trouble settling into one of SA’s most promising backlines.

BULLS: JASON JENKINS

While he’s returning to Pretoria on a short-term loan, the towering lock can certainly add a lot to the Bulls’ forward operations during the domestic competition.

He’s a big unit and considering that a good portion of SA’s premier locks are injured, he might just play with a little extra motivation.

LIONS: RABZ MAXWANE

He knows how to sniff out the whitewash. But how he will go at the Lions after little time spent between the lines in the last year after falling out of favour with the Cheetahs coaches remains to be seen.

The ability, however, is there. In his first full Pro14 season the speedster scored 14 tries to equal the record of former Scotland wing Tim Visser. Should say enough, right?

SHARKS: MANIE LIBBOK

If you had to completely disregard all that balling ability, the pivot’s move to Durban alone makes him one to watch.

Now, the list of opinions on Libbok’s time with the Bulls is probably not the shortest of scribbles (through no fault of his own), but one thing can be said with quite some confidence – if he’s going to make it anywhere, it’s going to be at the Sharks.

His debut is about as good as it gets when it comes to reasons to circle the kick-off date.

CHEETAHS: JUNIOR POKOMELA

Calling him ‘one to watch’ probably doesn’t do him a helluva lot of justice – we’ve seen what he can do.

There’s obviously that defensive ability, but how about those big carries and audacious offloads from the tightest of spaces?

The talented back rower has physical presence, and he also has this little knack for manoeuvring space like a winger.

He is a treat to watch and will be enjoyable watching him go up against some South African opposition.

PUMAS: JEANDRE RUDOLPH

He’s what some would call a Varsity Cup legend, but will that be enough when he goes up against the big boys?

He had a massive season in 2019 and properly showed his worth as a linking player when he wore the No 8 jumper, and when he put on the openside jersey he made no less of an impact as he made sure to show what a menace he can be at the collisions and the breakdown as well.

GRIQUAS: JOHAN MOMSEN

The former Maties captain will be keen to make his mark outside of Varsity rugby as well, and what platform and time will be better than after a dry spell on the rugby front?

The 2019 Western Province Club Player of the Year will play a big role for a Griquas side that’ll be eager to show that the SuperSport Challenge isn’t the only domain in which they can shine.

Should be reason enough for him to pull out all the stops.

@WynonaLouw