Will these shooting stars become Boks?

general01 February 2024 07:31| © SuperSport
By:Brenden Nel
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It may be a while before Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus selects his squad for the upcoming test bonanza against Ireland in July but already there are a host of young upstarts looking to make an impression to be included in the squad.

With a number of Bok World Cup winners on the sideline currently nursing injuries, but set to return before the test series, the likelihood is that the Bok team will resemble the majority of the World Cup heroes, but as it marks the start of a new cycle, new faces are bound to be in line for a call-up.

Currently the likes of RG Snyman, Bongi Mbonambi, Vincent Koch, Kwagga Smith, Jesse Kriel and Faf de Klerk are all out of action in one way or another and while some are expected to return sooner rather than later, it has opened up a fascinating debate about just who - at the halfway stage of both the Vodacom United Rugby Championship and Investec Champions’ Cup (and EPCR Challenge Cup) has caught the eye and could be stalking a claim.

Duane Vermeulen has retired and is widely expected to form a part of a rejigged coaching team to be named shortly, so there is at least one spot open in the wider squad.

So in a nutshell here are a few players that have caught the eye and staked a claim, with the notable asterix that we’re only halfway through the season and places are limited, especially with a host of the World Cup group still playing.

Also take note that these players are those who have not played for the Boks before, as to include those would make the list to large for these purposes.


Possibly the most underrated team in the URC at the moment, the Lions have quietly gone about their business without the big names and narrowly missed a chance last weekend to go fourth on the log. And with that form comes a number of players who have put their hands up for national selection.

Sanele Nohamba - the move from 9 to 10 has been an awakening for the potential that Nohamba holds. His general play, the way he controls the game, and the sneaky drop goal at Loftus Versfeld all are testament to the fact he has quickly become one of the most talked about players in South Africa. The ability to counter-attack, as shown by his snipe to set up Marius Louw’s first try at Loftus is the perfect example of just how valuable he can be. Nohamba may not be a shoo-in - Faf de Klerk and Cobus Reinach are still playing and his former Sharks teammates Grant Williams and Jaden Hendrikse are ahead of him in the queue, but more game like we’ve seen recently and he will be hard to ignore.

Francke Horn - While Duane Vermeulen’s retirement has opened up a few doors for a new No 8 to come into the frame, there are few as versatile as Horne and as key to the Lions hopes as their No 8. With an excellent attacking acumen, physicality to boot and the ability to play in the wider channels, Horne has put his hand up with consistent good performances and if he continues to do so, will be on the Bok radar.

Quan Horn - No relation to the No 8 but the fullback has been sensational since starting in the role two seasons ago. Solid under the high ball with good positional play, Horn is a whizz in the counter-attacking stakes and while there are a number of candidates that can play in the backline, Horn’s start continues to rise in SA Rugby


Cameron Hanekom - The No 8 has made the Welsh swoon and dream up love poetry to the physical former SA under-20 star and his introduction into the Bulls set up has been the stuff of dreams for any young player. While the chatter around Wales continues, there is no indication that Hanekom is even thinking of defecting, and if he continues to play well, he may be on the Bok radar sooner than later. There are others though - like Evan Roos - who burst onto the scene and then struggled in their second season. Hanekom has a way to go, but the initial signs are that he will be a star for the future.

Celimpilo Gumede - Mpilo, as he is known in team circles, has also caught the eye with a number of barnstorming performances and has been shifted between flank and eighthman by the Bulls as they use his physicality and presence along with Hanekom to good effect. His move from the Sharks seems to be one of the best things that he could have done and he is revelling in the belief that the Bulls have given him.

Johan Grobbelaar - The hooker was called up to a Springbok training squad and his trademark red cap has been the talk up north for quite a while. There is no doubt he is a rising star in SA Rugby and while the Bok setup is a tough one to break into, he is destined for higher honours


Neethling Fouche - A lot of the focus has been on the Bulls impressive scrum this year, but Gerhard Steenekamp and Wilco Louw don’t fall in our list as they’ve already won Bok camps. There was also a lot of talk on how the Stormers will do without the likes of Frans Malherbe and Steven Kitshoff but their scrum has remained solid, and has been led by Fouche, a captain in the making. He continues to impress and given the dearth of international tightheads, he would have easily caught the eye of the Bok camp with his performances this season.

Hacjivah Dayimani - When his name comes up inevitably the conversation is about where he would play in a test set-up and the age old argument comes around that he is too loose to be a test player. But man Dayimani is impressive. The speed of a back, the flair of a gamebreaker and the attitude of a superstar, there are few in the game like him and it seems only a matter of time before he breaks into the test side.

But it will be tough. The Bok setup is not easy to get into and there are a lot of looseforwards around putting their hands up. But there are few like Dayimani.


Werner Kok - While the Sharks have had a disastrous season and seem to rely on their Springboks more than anything else, Kok has been Mr Consistency. A physical winger who puts in a ton of work you always feel for him that there are so many hotsteppers out there. A player who always plays his heart out.

Corne Rahl - The SA under-20 lock may not be in line for honours just yet but is certainly the biggest talent seen out of Durban for a while. Physical and not shy to get stuck in, he has all the attributes of a future star and while it may be too early for him to get called up, the next few years should be very interesting if he continues on this path.