JOHANNESBURG - Five rounds of Super Rugby action have been completed so far. South African teams have experienced a mixed bag of results, with only the Stormers the unbeaten team in the country.
The performances of our local franchises provide us with a sense of what to expect when the Springboks face France in June. It is a well-known fact that when Super Rugby goes well for SA teams, the Springboks do well.
One thing Springbok coach Allister Coetzee has already done differently to his first year in charge, is to schedule Bok camps with an extended squad during the Super Rugby season.
Springbok coach Allister Coetzee. Credit: Backpagepix
Coetzee was only appointed in April of last year and limited preparation time along with a lack of a game-plan was widely touted as contributing factors to a woeful 2016 for the Green and Gold. Enough doom and gloom now.
Fast forward 2017, and Coetzee still has the backing of SA Rugby, and has had one Springbok camp already.
The initial camp took place in Johannesburg in early March.
Much of the usual suspects were named in the 41-man training squad with the likes of Eben Etzebeth, Pieter-Steph du Toit and Warren Whitely involved while there was a return for a few injured players, namely Handré Pollard, Siya Kolisi and Jaco Kriel. The squad excluded Sharks and Southern Kings players due to their travelling commitments for Super Rugby.
A Young Guns initiative was introduced where the coach would have a closer look at the future players of the Boks.
Those players included Ox Nche, Joseph Dweba, Hanro Liebenberg, Warrick Gelant and Wilco Louw.
Time now for the second camp to be held in Cape Town from April 2 – 4. This time no Southern Kings or Bulls players were named due to their travelling commitments.
19 players were retained from the first camp, 13 Sharks were included while nine new names have been added. The interesting inclusion come in the form of Curwin Bosch, who forms part of the Young Guns, which includes Ruan Ackermann, Wilco Louw, Ox Nche and EW Viljoen.
Bosch is the man on every Bok fan’s radar right now. The 19-year old from Port Elizabeth has set Super Rugby alight this season.
Curwin Bosch of the Cell C Sharks.Credi: Backpagepix
He was also named in the Junior Springbok training camp by new coach Chean Roux as they prepare for the World Rugby U20 Championship in George. I have no doubt that Bosch is a talented footballer. His kicking ability is an ability that any team would love to have in their arsenal. So you are most likely sensing a BUT coming your way.
Bosch has stepped up following the injury to Pat Lambie (who has also been called up for the camp) and has played at fullback as well. Perhaps my issue here is the term utility back.
I have the firm belief that players with his talent should specialise in a position and become an expert at it. Francois Hougaard and Brent Russell are the names that come to mind, who perhaps never reached their true potential as a result.
Will he play from the bench when Lambie returns? Does Robert du Preez select him ahead of French international Clément Poitrenaud at the Sharks? Look I may just be getting ahead of myself and he might just be exposed to the Bok setup and join them once he completes his duties with the Baby Boks. I just hope that he doesn’t become another Garth April, who had so much potential last season, and has since fallen away.
Another interesting topic is the inclusion in the training squad of Cobus Reinach. The Sharks scrumhalf will leave for Northampton in England at the end of the Super Rugby competition. SA Rugby recently made a decision to only allow overseas-based players with 30 Test caps or more to be eligible for the Springboks.
Here begs the question, why is he being included if he only has nine caps so far? If he is lost to the Bok squad after the France series why is he being included? Do we not have strong and suitable candidates at scrumhalf in the country at the moment?
The players named have been rewarded for their performance in Super Rugby this season and there will be no better yardstick for Coetzee than the gruelling Sanzaar competition. But picking our form-Bok squad when we get closer to that France Test-series is a discussion for another day. For now I am looking forward to seeing the squad in action next week at the Stellenbosch Academy of Sport.