Bok veterans must guide the 'laaities'
SPRINGBOK TRIAL: There will be winners and losers, but Saturday’s Green versus Gold outing at Newlands is all about exposing talented youngsters to a Test environment.
Mzwandile Stick, the Green team coach, told an online media briefing that the future of South African rugby will be roaming on the hallowed Newlands turf on Saturday.
Stick, who was an assistant to Rassie Erasmus during the victorious World Cup campaign in Japan last year, said the team selection was based on the premise that they wanted to bring in some promising youngsters.
He pointed to players like Sanele Nohamba, Schalk Erasmus and Jeremy Ward – who will all feature in his Green team.
He spoke of the Bok IP being shared with the new players.
“It is great to have guys like Duane Vermeulen, Siyamthanda Kolisi (captain) and Mbongeni Mbonambi around them,” Stick said, adding: “Those players have been to the World Cup and can show them what it requires to be at this level.
“It will really boost those laaities,” the Green coach said, adding that this game is all about ‘opportunities’.
He said one of the keys to their team selection was naming youngsters alongside senior players.
Stick gave a few examples of combinations that will benefit the new faces in the group.
In the Green team, the centre combination is 22-year-old former Baby Bok Wandisile Simelane and two-time World Cup winner Frans Steyn (33).
The Green team’s halfback combination is seasoned flyhalf Elton Jantjies (30) and 21-year-old Baby Bok Sanele Nohamba.
The Gold team midfield also has a classic -young-and-old combination – World Cup winner Lukhanyo Am (26) and Baby Bok Rikus Pretorius (21).
Simelane, who will be measured against one of the best outside centres in the world in Am, will benefit from having a veteran like Steyn by his side.
The same applies to Pretorius, who faces a hardened Test veteran like Steyn.
“These [young] players are our future,” Stick told the media briefing.
“We don’t want to expose them,”he said, adding: “We wanted to give them the best possible opportunity to find their feet and perform.”
It is clear that whoever impresses in this match at Newlands on Saturday will get a chance to be part of the Bok set-up in the future.