Boks winging it again!

Keba Mothoagae

Rassie Erasmus has solved the Springboks’ wing crisis!

As much as he might be experimenting out wide, we can all agree that Erasmus is onto something solid with Makazole Mapimpi, Aphiwe Dyantyi and the injured Sbu Nkosi to choose from.

Mapimpi is a ruthless try-scorer, Dyantyi is blessed with jet shoes augmented with deft footwork and a nose for the try-line, and Nkosi is a fantastic physical specimen who proves to be a handful in attack and a workhorse in defence.

Each of these players offers something different, but they all share the common traits of top wings in the modern game: finishers with a high work-rate who are physically present in defense, no matter their size!

With all due respect to the Bok wings chosen during the failed 2016 and 2017 seasons, it was a painful sight watching the tramlines being turned into freeways by opponents that took advantage of a muddled and inflexible gameplan which left the likes of Raymond Rhule, Ruan Combrinck, Courtnall Skosaan and Dillyn Lleyds horribly exposed.

At one point in 2017, Mapimpi was one of the leading try-scorers in provincial rugby, but that only amounted to an invite to the Bok training squad, an absolute farce if there ever was one!

I still have hopes for the hard-nosed Combrinck to find his way back into the Bok setup, and with the likes of Bulls winger Travis Ismaiel knocking on the door, Erasmus’ cup doth runneth over.

The new wing division’s introduction to international rugby against England was a helter-skelter one. Most of England’s tries in the June series resulted from miscommunication between the Bok centres and the outside backs, which was a clear indication of a lack of chemistry that comes with new combinations. This is something that is easily overcome through gaining experience.

By the same token, Dyantyi, Nkosi and Mapimpi scored some stirring tries that month (factoring in the one-off time waster against Wales in Washington DC). They scored the sort of tries you associate with a backline approach that plays to the strike-men’s strengths, and not the flukes that peppered the dog’s breakfast of 2016 and 2017.

Barring injury, a disastrous loss of form and/or a tweak in tactics, Mapimpi and Dyantyi are surefire starters from this weekend’s tricky outing against Los Pumas in Mendoza until at least the home matches against the Wallabies and All Blacks. No wings in the competition will provide a sterner test than New Zealand’s Rieko Ioane and Waisake Naholo, and this contest will serve the purpose of gauging Mapimpi and Dyantyi’s progress.

There needs to be clarity in what goes on at flyhalf and in the centre pairings to get the best out of your wings. Handre Pollard and Lukhanyo Am have started at 10 and 13 in three out of the last four Test matches, which at least shows consistency in those positions. Once the coach makes up his mind regarding who gets the 12 jumper between Andre Esterhuizen and Damian de Allende, the Springboks will have a settled backline for the first time in a long while as Faf de Klerk and Willie le Roux are the outright scrumhalf and fullback respectively.

With all this to make one feel optimistic about what 2018 might still hold, its great to know that our backs have direction and the firepower to punish teams. And was it not wonderful to see Dyantyi deny himself a hat-trick against Argentina, instead putting away Mapimpi for his second try of the game?

These gentlemen are genuinely electrifying players with the potential to become global superstars, and our rugby is better for it too as we search for worthy successors to Bryan Habana and JP Pietersen.

FRESH TAKE is an initiative to identify, feature and develop talented rugby writers who are not yet part of the mainstream media. If that sounds like you, send us a sample of a story you’d like to write to

Follow Keba: @Keba_MC

- Keba Mothoagae

Let's chat

  • Hopeful

    Let’s see how they hold up against equally electrifying opposition….Aus and NZ outside backs….

  • Wesley

    The cup doth runneth over indeed. Fair to say the selections in the last 2 years were due to their form and rightfully awarded, but the lack of cohesion in the back 3 and dead in the water gameplan was exposed leading to the downfall of the Boks and the players futher inclusion. Dyantyi is a player that could play 100 games for the Boks, Nkosi being a long term partner we can alike to what Pietersen was to Habana, and Mapimpi being the one knocking on the door, even perhaps overtaking one of them in the process. Time we build combinations like this again. That is what we had with the last time we won the WC. Back 3 was settled, midfield we had a partnership that would break records, set halfback paring, a formidable loose trio, best lockpairing SA has ever seen and an inspirational captain and front row figures. Glimpses of this is apparent, we should just keep the ship on course.

  • Herman Schroder?

    The writers optimism is to be admired and yes the three have great potential and I’m glad he has kept Combrink in his mix but the Boks need the game plan and the personnel inside them to capitalize on their talents. While Willie and Faf proved the difference in the first two England tests and the first Argentinian test they may not be around much longer. Faf has been cleared to play the 6 tests in the RC but after that ? Willie has only one match left if recent reports are to be believed. That then takes out the play makers who provided the vision and skill who have managed to get us out of some sticky situations these past few tests.

    However and here’s where the problems start. Pollard for all the hype has not really produced the goods as an effective flyhalf and here I’m not only talking about his kicking boots that have gone completely walkabout. He still plays his no frills / conservative game plan no matter the situation and lacks that most important ingredient required by modern flyhalves the vision to create something from nothing. Funneling the ball out or taking the ball up has it’s time and place but a flyhalf needs to do much more these days. Sanchez, Barrett, Foley all play these roles very effectively with vision and skill. In other words they are creators and when you have excellent wingers like we have they need to be fed good ball throughout the match.

    Our two centres ( Am and Esterhuizen ) I cast in the same mould. They do not play expansive rugby with their Franchises so for me the finer instincts and vision are lacking. The Bok game plan if one believes Rassie is going to be expansive rugby based and we need the players who have these natural instincts to enable us to compete with the best. Outscoring teams with tries is the only way we will ever win a trophy again after 9 lean years so everything must be geared to that end.

    So essentially if the two overseas guys are not available for whatever reason and the 10, 12 and 13 are below the ‘visionary’ standard required these days are we really in a good place after 5 tests ? Rassie has got more problems than even he believes especially with the make or break Australasian leg on his doorstep. Good luck to him.

    • Rick

      Sir you definitely knows ur rugby I couldn’t agree more.

  • Graeme

    The Argentinians murdered us out wide on Saturday !!!!!

Comments are closed.