Ken Borland

By Ken Borland


Four Springboks who knocked the door down in the Rugby Championship

Jasper Wiese, Jaden Hendrikse, Kwagga Smith and Damian Willemse have all stuck up their hands for the year-end tour.

The next Springbok squad will be named in October for the end-of-year tour and here are four players who knocked the door down during the Rugby Championship and must be included in the group for the Tests against Ireland, France, Italy and England.

Jasper Wiese

The Leicester Tigers loose forward turns 27 in October and is clearly entering his prime, knocking over opponents on the gain-line and just being constantly busy in terms of work-rate.

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While it remains to be seen whether he will depose Duane Vermeulen at the World Cup next year, the great eighthman has some bouncing back to do after his injury problems, although he made an encouraging cameo off the bench at Kings Park this weekend. At the moment, Wiese is certainly bringing the fire though and is a real thorn in the opposition’s flesh.

Jaden Hendrikse

A series of polished displays means young Hendrikse surely now owns the No 9 jersey.

Jaden Hendrikse owns the No.9 jersey
Jaden Hendrikse has shown he belongs in Test rugby.
Picture: Darren Stewart/Gallo Images

Despite his tender 22 years, he has taken on the key tactical kicking role of the Springboks with aplomb, and has generally been slick and precise with his service, as well as offering some variety on attack. This Rugby Championship has proven he belongs in Test rugby.

Kwagga Smith

The former Springbok Sevens star made a series of crucial contributions at the breakdown through the tournament and, coming off the bench, he has been able to form a great partnership with whoever his other two loose forwards are, showing his experience and versatility.

Kwagga Smith
Kwagga Smith has brought enormous energy off the bench.
Picture: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

And it’s not just the flashy stuff Smith has been doing, he gets through a lot of ‘dirty work’ too. Most important has been the sheer energy he has brought from the bench, which is exactly what you want from your replacements.

Damian Willemse

The highly-talented 24-year-old will no doubt be in the Springbok squad, but will he be earmarked as a flyhalf, centre or fullback? Hopefully he will play flyhalf because the Springboks will need to sort out this key position post-haste.

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Handre Pollard will still be around, but has just battled to get the attack firing of late, while surely the time has now come to ditch Elton Jantjies, who is making more headlines off the field than on.

Damian Willemse
Damian Willemse will bring spark to the attack at flyhalf.
Picture: Matt King/Getty Images

Willemse showed enough when he did play flyhalf in the Rugby Championship to suggest he has great potential there. He has an attacking mindset, is a steely defender and seems confident enough to be the team’s general. He will need to work on his kicking, but that should not be a problem for a player as skilful as he is.

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