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Young guns to watch in 2014

We take a look at five promising young South African players who are set to grab our attention when Super Rugby gets underway in 2014.

Every new season brings a new crop of young players that make an impression and 2014 will be no different if the last Currie Cup was anything to go by.

Most of the players in this list announced themselves in the 2013 Currie Cup, and next season will be the test to see whether they are able to step up and challenge for higher honours.

Here are our five young guns to keep an eye on:

Fred Zeilinga

Perhaps the unsung hero of the Sharks’ Currie Cup success in 2013, Zeilinga made an assured start to his career as he guided them to the final before handing the reins to Pat Lambie.

A reliable goal-kicker who showed a good temperament under pressure, he has also shown that he is not afraid to attack the line and ask questions of defences.

However, perhaps the most impressive side of his game was the accuracy of his tactical kicking as the Sharks placed a focus on territorial dominance in the Currie Cup.

With Jake White having confirmed he will play Lambie exclusively at flyhalf, Zeilinga’s opportunities may be few and far between, but look for him to make an impact off the bench in Super Rugby.

Cheslin Kolbe

The Western Province flyer enjoyed a break-out year, first impressing for the Junior Boks, then the Springbok Sevens side before going on to light up the Currie Cup.

Blessed with explosive speed and a devastating step, he showed great finishing abilities for every team he played for this year.

Due to his smaller frame there are question marks over his defence, and whilst he has shown good commitment it is tough to see him dominating too many collisions.

Kolbe’s preferred position is at fullback, but he is more likely to be used on the wing early on in his career, especially as the Stormers are currently quite short on outside backs.

Howard Mnisi

Having started 2013 playing for the NMMU Madibaz in the Varsity Cup, Mnisi went on to impress in the Currie Cup for Griquas which earned him a Super Rugby contract with the Cheetahs.

The powerful inside centre brings a physical edge to everything he does and has stood out at every level so far and will want to continue that upward curve by challenging for a place in the Cheetahs side.

With Robert Ebersohn playing in France Mnisi will compete with Francois Venter for the No.12 jersey, and given the chance his abrasive style could be a good fit for Super Rugby.

Handre Pollard

The year 2014 will give Handre Pollard a chance to show everyone exactly what all the fuss is about and prove that he can make the step up from schoolboy superstar.

The young flyhalf with the booming boot should get plenty of Super Rugby game-time for the Bulls, and it will be interesting to see if he can deliver on the promise he has shown at junior level.

He showed a good temperament when he steered the Junior Boks to the Junior World Championship title in 2012, and he will need the same as he looks to assert himself at Super Rugby level.

Jaco Kriel

The dynamic Lions flank may not be the newest face on the scene, but with the Lions in the Super Rugby wilderness this year he did not get a chance to show what he can do.

He must be one of the quickest loose forwards around, but apart from his lightning pace he also poses a significant threat at the breakdown which makes him a dangerous player.

The Lions will be under some pressure when they make their return to Super Rugby next year, an they will be looking to players like Kriel to give them some momentum against the more-fancied sides.

By Michael de Vries


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