The star who never became a Bok
STAT ATTACK: There are a lot of talented and exciting players that never got the opportunity to play for their national team.
One of them is Sarel Pretorius.
In his prime, Pretorius, who is now 36 and playing Pro14 rugby with the Southern Kings, was one of the most exciting scrumhalves in the game.
He had a knack for breaking open opposition defences and scoring tries.
Despite his last season of Super Rugby being in 2015, he still holds a number of records for a scrumhalf in the Southern Hemisphere’s premier competition.
The livewire Pretorius has scored the most tries (19) of any scrumhalf from South Africa in Super Rugby across the decade (2011-2020) and fourth most amongst all No.9s.
Pretorius is the only scrumhalf from South Africa to have recorded 50+ in offloads (73) and clean breaks (52) as he gained the most metres (1 904) of any South African player in the last decade.
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He notched up those stats playing for two teams, the Cheetahs and the Waratahs, in one season – 2012.
Pretorius was South Africa’s Super Rugby Player of the Year in 2011.
He was also the joint top try-scorer in Super 15 that year.
Even though he ranked high in the stats department, Pretorius never reached Test level rugby and at his ripe age it probably will not happen.
The closest he has been to Test level was playing for the Emerging Springboks.
The other top scrumhalf for South Africa over the last decade is the Lions’ Ross Cronje.
Cronje has produced the most try involvements (seven tries, 30 try assists) of any South African No.9 across this period.
Ross Cronje (104) is the only South African scrumhalf to have beaten 100+ defenders in Super Rugby in the last decade and one of five overall in his position.
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Two New Zealanders – the Hurricanes’ Thomas Perenara (107) and the Highlanders’ Aaron Smith (105) – lead the way for the most try involvements by scrumhalves in the last decade of Super Rugby.
No other No.9 has reached the century mark in that time.
Perenara’s position at the top is even more impressive when you consider the fact that he is the only player overall in Super Rugby in the last 10 years to have recorded 50+ tries and 50+ try assists – indeed an outstanding effort.
- Stats provided by Opta
Additional source: SANZAAR