Injured Bulls flyhalf Johan Goosen is taking part in the first Springbok alignment camp in Durban this week and could be brought in to bolster the Springbok flyhalf stocks when he is fully fit again.
Flyhalf is one of the positions that the Boks are pretty thin in and Goosen showed some impressive form on his return to the Bulls in the United Rugby Championship late last year before suffering an ACL tear slipping on an artificial pitch in a match against Cardiff.
He was then ruled out for up to nine months, while Bok coach Jacques Nienaber at the time admitted that he had been on their radar ahead of the end of year tour to the UK.
Currently the Bok flyhalves are even worse for wear with Handre Pollard having only just returned to the field from injury, while Elton Jantjies, who is also at the alignment camp, has just undergone surgery and will be out for a while.
Frans Steyn and Damian Willemse were regulars in the Bok setup last year who could cover flyhalf, but both are regularly playing at centre these days, while the experienced Morne Steyn retired from international rugby last year.
Youngsters Manie Libbok and Jordan Hendrikse could be in contention with both currently enjoying superb URC seasons with the Stormers and Lions respectively.
But with Nienaber putting a premium on experience ahead of the World Cup in France next year and looking to play his best team as often as possible in the build-up, he will most likely not be keen to blood new players at this stage.
Which is why former Bok Goosen could be the exact tonic that the management is looking for ahead of the showpiece event in France next year.
The 29-year-old played the last of his 13 Test in 2016, before a wild few years saw him go to France, return to SA and retire from rugby, head back to France to resume his rugby career and then end up at the Bulls late last year.
Despite him being at the alignment camp Nienaber was at pains to stress that being part of it didn’t automatically mean you would walk into the Bok setup, while he also added that players not part of it could still be part of the Boks.
‘Have a chat’
Nienaber explained that it was more about getting to know certain players that they were unfamiliar with and aligning with them ahead of the season.
“I’ve never in my life worked with Goosen. I’ve had a couple of conversations with him, but not at a personal level,” said Nienaber.
“One of the things I want to do at the alignment camps is to have a chat with him to see if I can pick up on his character, try to know him a bit better and find out where he’s at in terms of his rugby career.
“Is playing for the Boks something he’d aspire to? Does he still want to play for the Springboks at the World Cup? It’s things like that, but I’m not saying that’s the only reason he’s been invited to the camp.”