Boks sit with 'good tighthead problem'
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Springboks head coach Rassie Erasmus’ selection headache at tighthead is a problem any coach would love to have says Vincent Koch.
Erasmus recalled the Saracens prop to the Springbok set-up for the side’s two upcoming Rugby Championship fixtures against Wallabies in Port Elizabeth and against the All Black in Pretoria on October 6.
Koch, who has 10 Test caps, last represented the Springboks in 2016 against Italy.
In the 28-year-old’s two-year international hiatus aided by South Africa’s 30-cap rule, other world class tight-head props have emerged.
In the current Springboks squad, Erasmus sits with Stormers duo Frans Malherbe and Wilco Louw. Malherbe has been wearing the No.3 jersey for the Boks and played in the impressive 36-34 win over the All Blacks two weeks ago. While Louw’s abrasiveness is also impossible to overlook as an option.
The others on Erasmus’ radar, who did not make the Springboks squad for the two fixtures over the fortnight, are the likes of Trevor Nyakane, Thomas du Toit and Coenie Oosthuizen.
The options will certainly be tested during November with Nyakane is working his way back to being fully fit, Du Toit, who was remarkable after he shifted from loosehead to tighthead during the England Test Series in June and Oosthuizen who returned to the field as a replacement during the Sharks’ Currie Cup win over the Golden Lions last weekend.
“I think the competition for tighthead is a good problem to have,” Koch told reporters when asked about the options at No.3.
“The group of tightheads we have is world class and any coach would love to have that problem,”
“It is definitely a challenge but we all mates and we all just want the best for each other, so I think we are going to push each other to the next level which will only bring out the best for the players and the team,”
Koch has been in impressive form for the Premiership Champions Saracens. Despite being fully focused on his club, the former Stormers player revealed he never took his eye off the Springboks and was really impressed with their 36-34 win over the All Blacks in New Zealand.
He also revealed that heading overseas really improved his game but was extremely ‘sad’ with the 30-cap rule.
“It is my third season overseas now and I have definitely grown as a player, mentally and physically as well. I’ve also learnt to work harder off the ball. I think I became more mature and what they taught me that side is to work harder, something that lacked in my past.”
“As a prop, I don’t think it is a bad place to go learn and personally for me it was a great move to go and improve as a player,” when asked if he recommends props to head overseas
“Not only as a scrummager but also to learn a bit more of their culture as well. But for a prop, it isn’t a bad shift,”
“When I signed the 30-cap rule wasn’t there yet and then it came in.”
“That made me sad to be honest, knowing that I might not play for the Springboks again. As a rugby guy you want to play for the Springboks and that dream almost disappeared. It was quite an emotional time, but life goes on.
“I am still under contract for four more years, until 2022. I’ve signed a long-term deal with them [Saracens],”