Crashball Rugby's Jared Wright compiles a list of players with 30 caps or less that could feature in the Springbok's summer series against England.
South African newspaper Netwerk24 has reported that Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus will be allowed to pick players plying their trade abroad, even if they do not qualify through the 30 test cap rule.
This kind of treatment was not afforded to former coach Allister Coetzee but it does come with a catch, Erasmus will have to provide a good reason why this player must be included over a local player.
With this in mind I have compiled a list of players that have less than 30 caps and could warrant a place in the squad and that could even feature against England in June.
1. Vincent Koch (Saracens - 9 Test caps)
Although Koch is currently nursing an injury it is just a matter of when not if he is involved with the Springboks again. The former Pumas and Stormers man is one of the best tightheads in Europe, a position the Springboks have failed to fill properly since Jannie du Plessis headed North.
2. Faf de Klerk (Sale Sharks - 11 Test caps)
The Springboks no.9 jersey looks to be up for grabs with Rassie Erasmus opting not to include Ross Cronje in one of the two alignment camps earlier this season. De Klerk played a big role for the Springboks during the 2016 season before Cronje took over the jersey after de Klerk confirmed his move to Sale.
De Klerk has regained the kind of form that first earned him a Springbok call up and is reportedly on Rassie’s list of players that could be involved in June. Whether or not he will be able to convince SA Rugby that de Klerk is better than all the other local halfbacks and that he is a key player for the Springboks going forward is another challenge must he hurdle if he is to retake the Green and Gold nine jersey.
3. Juan de Jongh (Wasps - 19 Test caps)
I admit that I’m not too sure about this one coming off but I have included him in the list as he is one of the few players reportedly on Rassie’s list. De Jongh has been in good form for Wasps but Rassie will have to do well to convince the big bosses that he is essential to the Springbok set up. De Jongh is one of the few Springboks who is comfortable at 12 & 13, however, South Africa does already have some depth in both positions, so this call up would be relatively surprising.
Lukhanyo Am and Andre Esterhuizen have been brilliant for the Sharks, while the Lions trio of Lionel Mapoe, Rohan janse van Rensburg and Harold Vorster are also in the mix for Springbok selections. At the Bulls Jesse Kriel has been superb this year, while Damian de Allende looks like a different player for the Stormers so far. Abroad, Frans Steyn is always in the conversation, such is his talent, while Jan Serfontein was a regular in June and the Rugby Championship last year - both of whom have 30 test caps.
4. Ruan Ackermann (Gloucester - uncapped)
Ackermann was on the fringes of the Springbok in June last year when he featured for South Africa A v the French Barbarians. The 22-year-old has been in fantastic form for Gloucester since his arrival and is a true workhorse. This selection might be a bit more personal than the others, as I don’t really want to see Ackerman pulling a white jersey over his head in three or four years time. Nonetheless, Ackermann jnr is an exceptional talent that covers multiple positions in the pack and could be a stellar edition to a World Cup squad.
5. Marcel van der Merwe (Toulon- 7 Test caps)
Another powerful tighthead makes the list highlighting the number quality props South Africa have let go over recent years. Van der Merwe makes the list for all the same reasons that Koch does, both players are brilliant scrummagers and are highly regarded abroad. Another tighthead that could fall into this category is Pau’s Lourens Adriaanse who is no slouch.
6. James Hall (Oyonnax - uncapped)
Hall is a bit of bolter amongst the rest but the Oyonnax halfback is superb talent. So much so that Oyonnax reportedly often don’t play him when they know scouts from some of the bigger French sides are present. Hall has an excellent passing and kicking game that has eventually caught the eye of Top14 table toppers Montpellier. As mentioned before SA are a bit thin on options at nine.
7. Cobus Reinach (Northampton Saints - 10 Test caps)
Another scrumhalf makes the list! A former Sharks fan favourite, Reinach is a quality nine with plenty of attributes that make him a test quality halfback. Reinach has the speed of a winger, an accurate pass and a handy boot. Reinach is probably unfortunate not to have more caps to his name at this stage of career with former Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer understandably favouring Ruan Pienaar and Fourie du Preez, while Allister Coetzee didn’t seem to rate him.
8. Paul Willemse (Montpellier - uncapped)
It will be hard for Rassie to convince the bosses at SA Rugby to allow this one, but Paul Willemse is one of the best lineout tacticians in Europe at the moment. South Africa is blessed with an abundance of top second rowers and Willemse is one of the best to have left the Republic having never played a test for his country. Willemse gets through a boat load of work and would be a quality inclusion despite South Africa’s strength in depth in the second row.
There are plenty of players that I have not mentioned that Rassie could call upon that have yet to reach the 30 cap mark that could bring a lot to the Springbok setup, but seem less likely than those listed above. Let us know who you would like to see involved on twitter or facebook, any other comments are more than welcomed, I am always keen to have a rugby debate with keen fans.
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