Gelant to boogie at wing?

Dawie Boonzaaier

The first time I ever saw Warrick Gelant in action was in 2013 when he scored four tries for Outeniqua against my northern suburbs backs.

Playing inside centre on the day, Gelant utterly outshone everyone on the park and that’s notable considering he was in a backline that included future stars such as Dewald Human (Blitzboks), Duhan van der Merwe (Edinburgh), Remu Malan (Maties) and Leighton Eksteen (SWD Eagles).

If he didn’t go over an opponent he went round them. It was a sight to behold. After the match I found out that the kid, nicknamed ‘Boogie’, had already been snapped up by the Blue Bulls. I bookmarked the date and wondered how many years it would be before Boogie made his Test debut.

Gelant’s got game. More than most players in the Republic, and he’ll probably end up scoring heaps of tries for South Africa.

Thing is, he doesn’t have the No.15 jersey pinned down just yet. Of all Rassie Erasmus’ selection conundrums, I think fullback is the one position causing him more sleepless nights than he’d care to admit.

The reason? Top Test teams don’t just have one recognised tactical kicker in their starting lineup and, looking at current form, this is a real concern for the Boks.

Remember the Irish pinning Allister Coetzee’s Boks in the right hand corner for two Tests when Elton Jantjies was the only player who could clear effectively? Don’t rule out a repeat, especially in the back three where a trio of Gelant, Sbu Nkosi and Aphiwe Dyanti might run people to pieces, but would probably struggle to bring any relief with the boot in a pressure situation.

At the moment, Ruan Combrinck and Dillyn Leyds aren’t convincing kicking options on the wing and, unless it’s been decided that Handre Pollard will be a stop-gap at No.12, ala Owen Farrell, or that Frans Steyn is ready to play 80 minutes of Test rugby, having Gelant as your back-up kicker in the run-on side isn’t ideal.

Boogie averages fewer metres per kick than Sharks rival Curwin Bosch and Bok incumbent Andries Coetzee.

And with Bosch also averaging more metres-per-carry than Gelant, some might say the answer is as simple as booting Gelant and letting Bosch run things from the back.

While that argument has merit, it’s in the offloading and passing stats where Gelant shows his creative worth. He’s made more offloads and passes than Bosch. Gelant is also the safer option on defence, missing only four of 29 attempted tackles this season.

Another player at Erasmus’ disposal is Willie le Roux. With 21 try-assists he has seven more than the next-best contender in the Aviva Premiership, and he has an educated boot. I recall Percy Montgomery being an inspired pick at 15 for Jake White’s Boks after a stint with the Newport Dragons in the mid-noughties. Maybe Willie could be similarly inspiring in 2018?

Or perhaps Erasmus has an ace up his sleeve, one which could see Gelant and his dangerous feet deputise at right wing until he improves his kicking.

This could mean a back three with both Gelant and Bosch, a partnership with wonderful potential.

Either way, a back three of either Nkosi or Dyanti on the left wing, Gelant on the right and either Le Roux or Bosch at the back offers a well-balanced kicking game that will take some of the pressure off whoever starts at 10.

And Bok fans will still get a chance to see one of SA’s most potent attacking weapons boogie.

Follow Dawie on Twitter: @dawiboon

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- Dawie Boonzaaier

Let's chat

  • Gavin Cairns

    Warwick Gelant is an overrated one trick pony with a suspect defense who has already run out of ideas at 15…..what makes anyone think he’s suddenly going to be a success at wing?

    Thanks but there are already 3 better wings than him playing for the Sharks.

    • John Comyn

      Scary! The Sharks win a few games and they have 3 world class wings.

    • Dr Hoffman

      yip, always plays well against the sharks then goes to sleep for the rest of the year. If only the boks could play all their games against the sharks.

    • Galant

      Gavin stick to ice hockey or something

    • Simnikiwe Xabanisa

      Gavin, do you watch rugby or skim through it on the Blitz highlights?

    • Rant

      And those 3 sharks wings scored so many tries against Gellant on Saturday to earn them a massive victory. Take those blinkers off.

  • Chris Mouton

    Hmm, quite an interesting idea.

  • Galant

    Ha ha Willie a better kicker than Galant.

  • Herman Schroder

    Hi Dawie, Bosch at full back for the Boks ??. He is flashy in patches but inevitably runs out of support and does not offload at the right time, that is if he off loads or passes at all. Then his ‘waltzing matilda’ tackle style will be ‘manna’ for the big English boys and Wales for that matter. He is not ready, just like Damien Willemse. Coetzee with the right coach and game plan still the best bet at full back. Cheers.

  • John Comyn

    Their could be merit in playing him at wing. I recall AC bringing him on at wing (I think it was off the bench) and he did well in a losing cause. Never ever go into a test match let alone a WC without a FB that can’t kick or defend.

  • Slakkie G

    Andries Coetzee shouldnt even be picked

    Willie was on fire so dont pick him either

    i will pick Gelant at Fullback and put Cheslin Kolbe at wing

    Ruan on 14

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