Jacques van der Westhuyzen

By Jacques van der Westhuyzen

Head of Sport


URC final: Last chance to impress for these Bok hopefuls?

Several Stormers players, and one big Munster man, have a lot to play for in the URC final in the Cape Town Stadium on Saturday.


Does Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber already know who he’ll be taking to France for the World Cup later this year or are there gaps with question marks in certain positions? I think there are a fair number of gaps because of the uncertainty about the fitness and availability, and even form, of some players such as Eben Etzebeth, Siya Kolisi, Duane Vermeulen, Elton Jantjies and Frans Steyn, and following the retirements since the last World Cup of Francois Louw, Beast Mtawarira and Schalk Brits. And it is because of this that a number of men will be keen to continue…

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Does Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber already know who he’ll be taking to France for the World Cup later this year or are there gaps with question marks in certain positions?

I think there are a fair number of gaps because of the uncertainty about the fitness and availability, and even form, of some players such as Eben Etzebeth, Siya Kolisi, Duane Vermeulen, Elton Jantjies and Frans Steyn, and following the retirements since the last World Cup of Francois Louw, Beast Mtawarira and Schalk Brits.

And it is because of this that a number of men will be keen to continue to impress in this weekend’s United Rugby Championship final in Cape Town.

Bok hopefuls

A small group of players attended a first Springbok pre-season planning camp in Durban last week and they’ll be back on the east coast, along with the Stormers contingent and more players from abroad, from next week Tuesday, as preparations for the international season are ramped up.

Marvin Orie, Deon Fourie, Dan du Plessis, Manie Libbok and Joseph Dweba of the Stormers have been in good form in the URC and Champions Cup competitions, but none are guaranteed a ticket to France. They are all ‘fringe Boks’ hoping to get the nod from Nienaber. Could one more big performance in the final this weekend bend his arm?

Manie Libbok
Flyhalf Manie Libbok. Picture: Grant Pitcher/Gallo Images

Libbok and Fourie

Also, it would be interesting to know where back-in-form Herschel Jantjies is in the scrumhalf queue, with Faf de Klerk, Cobus Reinach, Grant Williams and Jaden Hendrikse all in the running to make the final World Cup squad. Only three will go to France.

Libbok, who has been one of the Stormers’ standout players over the URC season and without question one of South African rugby’s most improved and influential players of the last two years, could get a look-in in place of Elton Jantjies, who was Handre Pollard’s back-up in Japan in 2019, if Nienaber chooses to pick on form alone.

And, veteran Fourie, also a standout for the Stormers in all competitions, may get selected only if he travels to France as the third-choice hooker (a position he has played in previously) and loose forward back-up, because if the Stormers No 6 were to be considered only as a flanker, who would he replace of Kolisi, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Vermeulen, Jasper Wiese and Kwagga Smith?

RG Snyman

But then Dweba’s hopes of going to France as back-up to Bongi Mbonambi and Malcolm Marx, would be dashed.

And would Franco Mostert be considered as a lock only, or as a loose forward, which would impact a possible selection of Orie?

RG Snyman
Springbok lock RG Snyman of Munster. Picture: Darren Stewart/Gallo Images

Of course, so much depends on whether Kolisi recovers from a knee injury or not, and also whether Nienaber is prepared to gamble on Munster lock RG Snyman, who’s been declared fit to take on the Stormers on Saturday. This may well be his make-or-break chance to get a tick behind his name.

Snyman was a star in Japan in 2019, but his career has been hit hard by injuries and other incidents and he only recently returned to action.

There’s not only a URC trophy at play in Cape Town on Saturday, but also the hope in some players of getting their names penciled in to certain gaps on the Bok squad sheet for the season ahead.

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