DURBAN – In a first for South African sport, 50 of the country’s best players were selected in a “schoolyard pick,” live on SuperSport on Friday evening for next Saturday’s Springbok Showdown at Newlands in Cape Town.
The Springbok Showdown features a Green team coached by Mzwandile Stick (and managed by Rassie Erasmus) against a Gold team coached by Deon Davids and mentored by Jacques Nienaber, and the idea behind it is to give the country’s leading players game time before domestic competition kicks off on October 10 while it also doubles as a Springbok trial — the Boks could feature in the Rugby Championship that kicks off in Australia on November 7.
Erasmus, SA Rugby’s director of Rugby, said that he and new Bok coach Nienaber had picked from a pool of 93 from over 600 professional players based in South Africa, so those who had made the two squads had reason for excitement.
“This is not a Springbok squad but for these players it is a step closer,” he said. “A lot of young, very exciting players have been picked and there is potential for some of them to go all the way — I always look at a guy like Herschel Jantjies who a year before the World Cup last year was unknown but played his way to Japan as back up scrumhalf to Faf de Klerk.
“Another excellent example is Cheslin Kolbe,” Erasmus added. “He was nowhere before he went to France and next thing he was scoring a try in the World Cup final. For all these young guys who will play in the Showdown, there really is a lot to play for.”
Erasmus said that while he, Nienaber and the coaches (the current Springbok assistants) would spend this coming week transferring as much Springbok knowledge as possible to the players, he would encourage them to play their natural games.
Green Team: 15 Gianni Lombard, 14 Yaw Penxe, 13 Wandisile Simelane, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Seabelo Senatla, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Sanele Nohamba, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Arno Botha, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 JD Schickerling, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Ox Nche.
Replacements: Schalk Erasmus, Thomas du Toit, Luan de Bruin, Oupa Mohoje, Juarno Augustus, Junior Pokomela, Emrose Papier, Manie Libbok, Jeremy Ward, Malcolm Jaer.
Team Commissioner: Rassie Erasmus
Team coach: Mzwandile Stick
Gold Squad: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Rosko Specman, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Rikus Pretorius, 11 Sergeal Petersen, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Nizaam Carr, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Salmaan Moerat, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff
Replacements: Dylan Richardson, Dylan Smith, Ruan Dreyer, Jason Jenkins, James Venter, Vincent Tshituka, Jaden Hendrikse, Curwin Bosch, Werner Kok, Manual Rass.
Team Commissioner: Jacques Nienaber
Team coach: Deon Davids