VIDEO: Next generation of Boks to come from Johannesburg?
REACTION: The four-year cycle leading up to the World Cup in Australia has started and Lions head coach Ivan van Rooyen believes he has players that can play a big role for the Springboks.
The Lions have only won two of their six games so far in the United Rugby Championship season, but they have shown plenty of promise with their performances.
In the matches that they have lost, it has been by seven points or less on each occasion and on Saturday they moved up to ninth in the standings after a 61-19 win over Zebre in Johannesburg.
Players like Henco van Wyk, Francke Horn, Sanele Nohamba, Ruan Venter and a few others have proved their worth on the field and they could be knocking on the Bok door when Rassie Erasmus and the rest of his coaching team select the first squad next year.
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“We believe we have eight to 10 guys that can be involved with the Boks in the next cycle, in terms of the more junior guys,” Van Rooyen told reporters after Saturday’s win.
“Off the bat there, Willem [Alberts] has probably been playing the best rugby for years,” he added with a smile.
“We are confident in the sense that the next generation [of Boks] could come from our team.”
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If the Lions do offload a few players to the Bok squad, it would mean they will be unavailable for certain periods of the season with internationals and camps taking centre stage. However, Van Rooyen prefers to look at the positive side of it all.
“If the World Cup is sitting in the cabinet, I think what we are doing is working. I think the main priority stays the Springboks and I think that is also important for the country.
“Obviously we are not in the position to lose players or get players. If you look at the Sharks, I think they got eight players back and obviously that will make a difference in your team, but it also tests your depth a little bit.
“Any team that plays without eight or nine of their best players will feel it a little bit, but I think for a South African franchise that it will build depth and we get exposure to the future superstars.
“I think in the short term it is challenging, but in the long term I think it is still good for South African rugby.”