Rookies of the year
This year saw another pack of exciting young players force their way into the Springbok fold and into contention for a place at the World Cup.
A lengthy injury list meant that Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer had to turn to inexpeienced players more often than he would have liked, but the flip side is that it gave some players the chance to prove themselves at the highest level.
Admittedly there is still a lot of rugby to be played before the World Cup, but it will probably take something exceptional for any uncapped players to force their way into Meyer's thinking next year.
The players that burst onto the scene this year now have the task of trying to back that up and show that they deserve to be on a flight to England next year.
Rookies of 2014:
Pollard did it all this year, which saw him start what should be a long career as Springbok flyhalf. He led the Junior Boks at the Junior World Championship in New Zealand, and although they lost the final Pollard was named player of the tournament after standing out in what was his third appearance. He made his Test debut a week later against Scotland and went on to score two tries in the victory over the All Blacks at Ellis Park. In Pollard the Boks have a player who runs flat and hard at the defensive line, although there were some question marks raised over his suitability to wet northern hemisphere conditions as defeat to Ireland saw Meyer prefer Pat Lambie in the No.10 jersey for the rest of the tour. A full season of Super Rugby for the Bulls will give him the chance to stake a claim to start as playmaker during the World Cup.
Although not his debut season in Super Rugby, this was the year that he secured a starting berth at openside flank at the Stormers ahead of Siya Kolisi and he certainly made the most of it. Renowned as a free-running No.8, Carr showed an abrasive side this season and stood out alongside the likes of Duane Vermeulen and Schalk Burger. He was hugely influential in Western Province's Currie Cup campaign and played himself into the Bok squad for the year-end tour, assisting a try for Cobus Reinach with his first touch of the ball on debut against Italy. Carr's versatility as someone who can cover No.8 and openside is valuable, and he can do more to underline that fact in Super Rugby next year.
The former Springbok Sevens flyer made his Super Rugby debut for the Cheetahs this year and went on to play in 11 Tests for the Springboks. His explosive pace and finishing ability mean that he is highly rated by Bok coach Meyer. He plays alongside Springbok fullback Willie le Roux at the Cheetahs, so it will be interesting to see how they go as a combination next year. After scoring five tries for the Springboks this year, Hendricks will be hungry to add to that next year.
Another Sevens convert who has made a smooth transition into the 15-man game, Senatla's raw pace makes him deadly when given too much space. He has been described as the fastest man in South African rugby which certainly seems to be true right now. After joining the Stormers after the Sevens World Series Senatla impressed in the Currie Cup for Western Province as they went on to claim the title. That got him a spot on the year-end tour, although he did not get a chance to play. His form in the Dubai and Port Elizabeth Springbok Sevens victories was outstanding, so he is another player who can really push for a place at the World Cup with a strong Super Rugby season.
Possibly the biggest Cinderella story of them all this year, Mohoje played for the Shimlas in the Varsity Cup this year and was used by the Cheetahs as an impact player in the second half of the Super Rugby season. A few impressive cameos caught the attention of Bok coach Meyer, and found himself in the team pretty quickly as Meyer tried to fill a Willem Alberts-shaped hole in his side. Meyer prefers his blindside flank to be big and physical with good line-out skills, and these qualities saw Mohoje start in home victories against Australia and New Zealand, despite suggestions from certain sections of the media that his selection was politically motivated. After such a quick rise, the challenge for Mohoje will be to show some consistency for the Cheetahs and make a big impression in Super Rugby.
By Michael de Vries