Ross Roche

By Ross Roche

Senior sports writer

Final chance for Lions youngsters to impress Springbok selectors

During the previous World Cup cycle the Lions did not have a single Bok representative in their setup.

An exciting crop of up and coming Lions youngsters have the perfect opportunity to impress the Springbok selectors ahead of the start of the international season in June, with a tough end-of-season run-in in the United Rugby Championship (URC).

Over the next two months the Lions will host the currently top of the table Leinster, second placed Glasgow Warriors, fourth placed Munster and will travel to Cape Town to take on the fifth placed Stormers in what will be a defining final few pool games.

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During the previous World Cup cycle the Lions did not have a single Bok representative in their setup, but they have a good chance of seeing some of their players in the mix during the current cycle.

Bok alignment camp

At the first Bok alignment camp of the season Lions scrumhalves Sanele Nohamba and Morne van den Berg, flyhalf Jordan Hendrikse, centre Henco van Wyk, fullback Quan Horn and loose forward Ruan Venter all took part.

So those players are firmly on the Bok management’s radar, while a few other players such as eighthman Francke Horn and prop Asenathi Ntlabakanye could be bubbling under as well.

Former star Bok centre and Lions defence coach Jaque Fourie believes that this run of games, starting with Leinster on Saturday, will provide the perfect opportunity for the players to prove their worth.

“It is the last five (pool) games and if we make the playoffs we could make it another seven or eight games. So, it is a chance for them, and the guys that are on the fringes to play themselves into a Springbok squad,” said Fourie.

“It is a great chance for them to put their hands up and we have an exciting group of young players that will hopefully make it into this next World Cup cycle’s Bok training squads.”

URC playoffs

Fourie also says it is high time that the currently 11th placed Lions force their way into the competition’s top eight and playoffs for the first time, especially since the bulk of the squad have been together now for the past three seasons.

“Most of the squad has been together now for the last three seasons and I think it’s about time we push for the top eight. In our first and second seasons that was our goal, but it didn’t happen. So I think it is now time for us to achieve that,” said Fourie.

“If you want to be one of the top teams in this competition you have to beat Leinster, Munster and Glasgow. You have to beat those guys, especially at home. You have to be able to do that if you want to be a contender in the top eight, make the top four and put your hand up to win this competition.”