CAPE TOWN – Which of the eight uncapped players in the 46-man Springbok squad will make their Test debuts against Georgia or the British & Irish Lions? Let’s take a closer look at their chances …
JOSEPH DWEBA (hooker, Bordeaux): The bustling former Cheetahs has that abrasive style similar to first-choice Bok Bongi Mbonambi, and his powerful frame would be valuable at close quarters, and he is a renowned defender too. But with Mbonambi and Malcolm Marx around, he will have to wait to earn his Test blazer – perhaps in the Rugby Championship, where the fixture schedule is congested.
NICOLAAS JANSE VAN RENSBURG (lock, Montpellier): He came from the Bulls’ lock factory but had to leave Pretoria in 2016 as he hardly got any game time.
The 27-year-old has excelled at Montpellier, and features alongside another Pretoria product, Paul Willemse.
With injuries to Lood de Jager and RG Snyman, Janse van Rensburg could feature as a No 5 line-out jumping lock as back-up to Franco Mostert.
JASPER WIESE (No 8, Leicester): The hard-running former Cheetah is in line for a Test debut in July, following Duane Vermeulen’s unfortunate ankle injury.
Wiese caught the attention of everybody when he was Man of the Match against the Bulls last year. He has continued with those big ball-carrying exploits in England, and Rassie Erasmus said his form could not be ignored.
SANELE NOHAMBA (scrumhalf, Sharks): While he was in top form last year, Nohamba has dropped down the pecking order at the Sharks, with Jaden Hendrikse the regular No 9 and Grant Williams on the bench.
Clearly the Bok coaches rate Nohamba’s speedy service and X-factor on attack, but he is more likely to just learn from Faf de Klerk, Herschel Jantjies and Cobus Reinach than play.
WANDISILE SIMELANE (centre, Lions): The side-stepping, pacy No 13 has been knocking on the Bok door for a while, but again, is a promising youngster who’s had some bright moments for his franchise.
He will pick up those vital midfield skills from the outstanding Lukhanyo Am and the versatile Jesse Kriel.
Simelane has enough speed and the right mindset, but needs to work on his execution before earning a Test cap.
YAW PENXE (wing, Sharks): The former Kings wing impressed in that Green v Gold game at Newlands last year, which is how he earned a contract at the Sharks.
More steady than spectacular, Penxe is solid under the high ball and seldom ‘dies’ with it in contact. But he will probably feature only for the SA ‘A’ side.
ROSKO SPECMAN (wing, Cheetahs/ Stormers): At the age of 32, Specman is a rare breed of wing who still has the speed in his legs to compete with the youngsters.
He showed his class when he left Stravino Jacobs for dead at Loftus Versfeld last week.
But if he wants to wear that Bok cap, he needs to work on his one-on-one defence, as both Makazole Mapimpi and Cheslin Kolbe are the established starters.
Aphelele Fassi (fullback, Sharks): The young Sharks fullback was so good in 2020 that he probably would’ve been a Springbok by now if it wasn’t for the Covid-19 pandemic. Fassi is able to cut into the line at just the right time, has the pace and step to launch counter-attacks, and is strong under the high ball and in defence. He has a decent kicking boot too, and with Warrick Gelant injured, he should get a Test when Willie le Roux takes a breather.