Bok coach's second row conundrum
SPOTLIGHT: As Jacques Nienaber gets ready to name his Springbok squad on Saturday, several positions will be under the spotlight.
The second row will be one area that will get a lot of attention, due to some big injuries.
Lodewyk de Jager (Sale Sharks) and Rudolph Snyman (Munster) are both in a race against time for the upcoming British and Irish Lions series.
The Springboks will also face two Tests against Georgia (July 2 and 9), before that that series gets underway.
De Jager is currently out of action after fracturing his tibia and suffering a torn meniscus, while Snyman is in the final stages of his rehabilitation after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament last August.
Both players were in the Springboks’ matchday squad for the 32-12 win over England in the World Cup Final in Yokohama in November 2019 and they would have been an integral part of Nienaber and Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus’ plans when they started preparing for the Lions series.
Eben Etzebeth and Franco Mostert are the other two locks who were part of that World Cup success.
Etzebeth and De Jager were the starting locks against England, while Mostert and Snyman were on the bench.
Etzebeth should be a certain starter against the B&I Lions if he stays fit and he could form a partnership with the industrious Mostert in the second row.
It is a combination that worked well in that World Cup Final, when Mostert replaced the injured De Jager after just 22 minutes.
Etzebeth, Mostert, De Jager and Snyman were the Fantastic Four for the Boks in the second row in 2019 and Nienaber would like to have consistency when it comes to selection in such a key department in the team.
However, there will be contingency plans and they will be revealed in Saturday’s 45-man squad.
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So, who are the other locks in the running to face the B&I Lions?
At the Stormers, we got Springbok Marvin Orie, together with John Schickerling and the injured Salmaan Moerat.
Schickerling has been tipped for higher honours for a long time now and with a full international season ahead 2021 could be the year he finally gets that cap.
It is also a matter of time before Moerat gets to play for the Boks, but he is touch-and-go ahead of the Test season – after he injured his neck in training in April.
At the Bulls, Ruan Nortjie and Walt Steenkamp have both been impressive at line-out time and in the physical exchanges.
Sharks lock Ruben van Heerden fits the mold of a Bok lock and has produced a number of eye-catching performances in the last two seasons.
Van Heerden’s second row partner Reniel Hugo has been immense in open play and he could also add something to the Springboks’ cause.
The Boks could even use a player like Jean-Luc du Preez at lock. Du Preez is a versatile player who can play in the second row and the back row and he has been in fine form for Sale Sharks in England.
Is there is anyone we missed out on? Share your picks and views in the comments section below.