With rugby’s Preparation Series wrapped up we pick five rookie players who made their mark.
Stravino Jacobs (left wing, Bulls)
Jacobs solved a major headache for coach Jake White after the team’s star Sevens player and wing Kurt-Lee Arendse got injured halfway through the Currie Cup campaign.
Jacobs, who was a star for the title-winning U20 Bulls side a season back, stepped up in place of Arendse and showed great maturity despite his age. He proved to be one of the finds in the Preparation Series before he got injured towards the end of the campaign.
The powerfully-built Jacobs has a bright future ahead of him.
Rynhardt Jonker (centre, Sharks)
The young Jonker, who has steadily moved up through the junior ranks, was was introduced towards the end of the series while Marius Louw was being rested.
He produced a stunning performance in the Sharks’ final game against the Bulls in Durban when he also scored a superb try. Also, as witnessed with the grubber kick he produced against the Lions at Ellis Park, which set up the Sharks’ first try by fullback Aphelele Fassi, Jonker has great vision for the game.
Abner van Reenen (flyhalf, Stormers)
Having had to bide his time after preference was given to the equally young Kade Wolhuter, Van Reenen rose to prominence in the Stormers’ final preparation game against the badly outplayed Lions at the Cape Town Stadium.
It was not only his superb kicking, including a great drop goal, which saw him score 19 points that stood out, but also his contribution in general play that caught the eye. He put in a great grubber kick to set up the first of the Stormers’ tries and the first for scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies’ brace.
Van Reenen also played a major role in wing Seabelo Senatla’s try as everything turned into gold for him.
Ngia Selengbe (wing, Lions)
The powerful wing is yet another product from the Lions U20 side of last year which was also coached by Preparation Series coach Mziwakhe Nkosi, who clearly spotted Selengbe’s potential.
Having being exposed along with other youngsters in the first two games, he was one of a few to be retained in the third game against the Sharks at Ellis Park. And Selengbe didn’t disappoint, scoring the first of the Lions’ six tries in unconventional style by powering his way over from close range after a ruck was formed.
While he couldn’t repeat the magic in Cape Town in the last game, Selengbe looks set for Rainbow Cup action.
Marcell Muller (wing, Cheetahs)
Many people didn’t know of Muller’s existence before the Cheetahs’ final game against the Elephants in Bloemfontein last Sunday. But after scoring two tries inside the first 10 minutes with his powerful running, his name will be carved into the fans’ memory banks.
Muller could have completed his hat-trick in the second half but due to cramping his one foot touched the sideline in the event of scoring and he was denied a third try.
He has been earmarked as the replacement for Rosko Specman, who is returning to the Sevens game, so expect a lot more from this Grey College product when the Cheetahs are next in action.