Springbok Rugby flyhalf depth: Next please!

Springbok rugby flyhalf depth

Springbok Rugby flyhalf depth has been keeping fans busy in discussions since the last Test played against Argentina in Durban as part of the Rugby Championship.

The discussion raised its head after Head Coach Jacques Nienaber elected to play veteran Frans Steyn at flyhalf. The first Test in 14 years that he played in the position. Handre Pollard and Damian Willemse were not available due to injury. The third option would have been Elton Jantjies. He had no game time under his belt after being sent home from Argentina. Steyn was no more than a makeshift solution and is unlikely to play flyhalf for the Springboks again.

Springbok Rugby flyhalf depth: The contenders

Pollard has picked up another injury. Jantjies future in the squad is unknown. Willemse seems to be the logical replacement. That would mean his utility value at fullback is no longer in play. His impressive development at the inside center is also important to consider. If we assume that Pollard and Jantjies are out of the picture, that leaves Willemse as the last man standing.

Frans Steyn did a stop-gap job in Durban against Argentina during the Rugby Championship. It was a fill-in performance only and his days as a Test-level flyhalf are long behind him. Respected as a legend of Springbok rugby, he is unlikely to feature in the match-day 23 in the Rugby World Cup. At best, he will be the experienced old hand looking after the team tasked with taking on the “mid-week” games.

Ryan Jordan polled fans on social media to find out who local fans are backing. Johan Goosen, Manie Libbok, and Robert du Preez were the crowd’s favourites. There was also interest in Boeta Chamberlain from the Sharks, Chris Smith from the Bulls, and Jordan Hendrikse from the Lions.

Johan Goosen

Goosen is likely to have the inside line to tour as a solution to the Springbok rugby flyhalf depth question. He has recovered from his knee injury and has racked up game time in the URC. His stature in the squad was underlined when he attended the Springbok alignment camp while still injured. The SA Rugby statement that he attended as part of his rehabilitation is a smoke screen. He could quite easily have continued his injury rehab in Tshwane (Pretoria) under the watchful eye of the Bulls team Doctor. Aside from his kicking ability, he also presents a threat on attack. Goosen also adds coverage in the fullback position.

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Manie Libbok

Libbok did not appear to fit in at either the Bulls or the Sharks and did not get regular game time. He does appear to have matured under John Dobson at the Stormers. Playing in the Stormers’ set-up fits the looser, counter-attacking style that Libbok is very good at. Is that what Jacques Nienaber and Rassie Erasmus are looking for in the Springbok game? Selecting him for a Northern Hemisphere autumn series means something has to change. That is either Libbok’s role or the Springbok’s attacking shape. Odds are against the Bok coaching setup making that change.

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Robert du Preez

Rob du Preez has only played one Test for the Springboks. He has been around the block more than once and has played for the Stormers, and the Cell C Sharks, and is currently with Sale Sharks. He adds further coverage in the fullback and the centre positions, which adds that appeal to the Springboks, who are leaning toward versatility. He would be a solid and safe bet for the November tour, but would he get a look-in after that?

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Editor’s bolter pick: Sacha Mngomezulu

This would be a pick out of the left field, but hear this one out. Sometimes, a player arrives on the scene that catches the eye right from the start. Mngomezulu is one of those players. Taking him along on tour to give him the experience will set him fair to compete for the Springbok flyhalf position after the Rugby World Cup in France. He wouldn’t be close to the Test group of 23 at this stage. A few minutes off the bench in one of the mid-week games would do him well.

Springbok rugby flyhalf depth will be tested during their Northern Hemisphere tour. This is mostly due to Pollard’s injury and the uncertainty surrounding Jantjies’. This is positive stress that the Springboks will encounter. It has placed a relatively large number of young flyhalves in the spotlight. One thing is certain. Competition for the Springbok 10 jersey is going to be fierce post-Rugby World Cup 2023.

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