Trokkie gets Skinstad’s nod for Boks

Bob Skinstad ‘hopes’ that Juarno Augustus has caught the eye of Rassie Erasmus as he has come on in leaps and bounds since leaving the Stormers for the Saints.

Bob Skinstad has nominated Juarno Augustus to step up and fill the Springbok No 8 jersey vacated by the retired Duane Vermeulen, writes Dylan Jack.

The former Junior Springbok star has yet to attract the attention of the national selectors, despite spearheading Northampton Saints’ charge to finish first in the Premiership and as Champions Cup semi-finalists.

Augustus has been one of the top carriers in the Premiership and recently went head-to-head with Ireland No 8 Caelen Doris when Northampton Saints faced Leinster in the final four of the Champions Cup.

The 26-year-old has come on in leaps and bounds since leaving the Stormers for the Saints, with Skinstad telling a Vodacom URC media round table that he ‘hopes’ Augustus has caught the eye of Rassie Erasmus.

“He’s been playing such fantastic rugby. He’s been putting in the time and effort over here,” Skinstad said.

“I think we are still in that phase that the number of minutes you see the person playing live might influence how much you know about how they will react to certain things, as opposed to the matches that you see him playing in the domestic league. I don’t think that counts in his favour. But his performances do.

“He has been a fantastic ball-carrier. Defensively he has been outstanding. I would imagine he is in that broad scheme of thinking because of how much he knows about players on this side of the world and how much he can add to the general knowledge of the squad.”

Augutus is just one player in a long pecking order of eighth men, as Evan Roos, Francke Horn, Cameron Hanekom and Hacjivah Dayimani’s continued growth have given the Springboks a wealth of options for the series against Ireland.

Erasmus will be forced to experiment with his options, after Vermeulen’s retirement and Jasper Wiese’s six-game suspension.

“The important thing for us as South Africans is that we have a number of loose forward options to chose from,” Skinstad said. “That long-range try from Phepsi Buthelezi [in the Challenge Cup final], who can play across the back row, just reminded me how much talent there is out there. There’s talent to burn.

“Are we going to see the evolution of Evan Roos from a general squad player into a player that can step into that role permanently? Are we going to see Phepsi become a person that is always picked? There are interesting players leading the stats.

“For me, the number of carries we’ve seen from loose forwards, Roos is up there. The number of lineout steals, defenders beaten. We are seeing a lot of loose forwards in that space and Roos is, again, up there with Dayimani who can also play No 8.

“I don’t know who the individual is going to be. I am sure that Rassie and the coaches are following the performance stats really closely. But with Jasper out, it’s something that they are going to have to put front and centre.”

This article was first published in SA Rugby magazine

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