Ross Roche

By Ross Roche

Senior sports writer

Springboks must unleash Evan Roos on end-of-year-tour

The door has opened for Roos to make an impression, and it would be remiss of the Bok management if they didn’t give him a proper run.

Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber won’t get a better opportunity to unleash Stormers star eighthman Evan Roos than on the Boks’ European end-of-year-tour in November.

Roos was called up to the Bok training camp in Stellenbosch this week, after a knee injury to Elrigh Louw during the Bulls United Rugby Championship (URC) match against Benetton seems to have ruled him out of contention for the tour, according to SA Rugby Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus.

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After a stunning debut campaign in the URC last season saw Roos clean up, winning almost every major award in the competition (and on Tuesday he was also named the Stormers’ Players’ Player of the Year), he was picked for the Boks’ incoming series against Wales and Rugby Championship campaign, along with Louw who had impressed for the Bulls.

Despite Roos getting a start in the second Test against Wales, the Bok management clearly favoured Louw, who featured as a sub in a number of games over the two series, while Roos was eventually released back to the Stormers before the end of the Rugby Championship.

When Louw was named in the Bok training camp ahead of Roos, it seemed it would be the same for the end-of-year-tour, with Louw again the preferred back-up to Jasper Wiese and Duane Vermeulen.

Door opens

However, the door has now opened for Roos to make an impression, and it would be remiss of the Bok management if they didn’t give him a proper run to show what he can do on the international stage.

After an impressive international season so far, Wiese seems to have deservedly become the Boks’ first choice number eight, while they still seem to value Vermeulen as the second choice.

Both players should thus feature in the Boks’ first two games against Ireland and France, where the coaching team could give each a game to start, while the other plays off the bench, or the Boks can keep backing Wiese as starter in both games and leave Vermeulen in the bomb squad.

However, both Wiese and Vermeulen will be unavailable for the Boks’ final game of the tour against England, as it falls outside the international window, so both players will return to their clubs of Leicester Tigers and Ulster respectively.

Roos should thus be the go-to man for the England game, and it would be unfair on him for the Boks to just drop him straight into that match.

So they should back Roos to start in the third match of the tour against Italy, to give him a chance to get up to speed in the system and build some momentum heading into the massive encounter against England at Twickenham.

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