Rookies of 2015
With more players leaving the country to play overseas and earn some foreign currency, the depth in South African rugby is becoming more important.
As a result there are more young players being exposed to top rugby, and although there are always some who battle, there are others who are able to thrive.
Although it was a World Cup year, there were a few rookies who got a chance with the Springboks, and no doubt there will be a few more in 2016.
Here are our five rookies of 2015:
Made his Super Rugby and Test debut in what was a break-out season for the flyer. He started out as a fullback, but made his mark at Test level at outside centre so it will be interesting to see how he is utilised by both the Bulls and the Boks next year as his explosive pace and eye for the gap make him a tricky customer in either position. There is no doubting his ability in broken play and when given some space on attack, but question marks remain about his defence and his kicking game which he will have to answer in 2016.
The 25-year-old tighthead got his first opportunity to play Super Rugby for the Stormers and made the most of it, resulting in his Test debut in the Rugby Championship. He was used mainly as an impact player by the Stormers, backing up Frans Malherbe, and he certainly made a big impact, but found things a bit tougher at Test level with experienced Pumas loosehead Marcos Ayerza giving him a torrid time in Argentina's historic victory over South Africa at Kings Park. A powerful scrummager he gets around the park well and makes plenty of tackles, so he will be hoping to kick on and earn some more Test caps next year.
Although he did not get an opportunity to play Super Rugby, Bholi announced himself with a number of impressive performances in a relatively weak EP Kings side during the Currie Cup. A flank who can also play lock,, he brings intensity to everything he does on the pitch. Abrasive in the tackle, he makes turnovers at the breakdown, but is also able to carry the ball effectively and win line-outs which makes him very valuable. The 25-year-old was one of 20 players confirmed as having signed for the Kings, so he should get plenty of opportunity to shiw what he is about in 2016.
An injury to Martin Muller gave this 22-year-old his chance for the Golden Lions in the Currie Cup, and he did not look back, playing an influential role in their run to the title. At 2.00m and 115kg the former Garsfontein scholar provides a huge physical presence and is more than capable at line-out time. Along with Franco Mostert he helped lay a solid platform for a dominant Golden Lions side, but will now have to show that he can make the step up when he gets his opportunity in Super Rugby next year.
The formers SA Schools, SA Under-20 and Springbok Sevens star had a lot expected of him, and he showed that he is more than just hype in 2015. Although still young enough to play for the Junior Boks, he was one of the key players in an exciting, young Blue Bulls backline during the Currie Cup. Along with the likes of Jamba Ulengo and Dries Swanepoel, Gelant showed that running rugby is not dead at Loftus Versfeld. An instinctive runner, his kicking and positional play may still need some work, but certainly a player with plenty of potential for the future.
Do you agree with our rookies? Who would you have picked? Leave a comment below.
By Michael de Vries