Preparations for the Rugby World Cup will present young talent with playing opportunities and former SA U20s dynamo Wandisile Simelane is set to take the gap and burst onto the Super Rugby scene in 2019.
Simelane was included in RugbyPass’ shortlist of nine young pros earmarked for a breakout season: “If the Lions can create space for him in the 13 channel, he has all the attacking attributes required to torment even experienced internationals in Super Rugby.”
Adept at creating space for himself, Simelane scored a hat-trick for the Baby Boks in the final 30 minutes of a 30-17 victory against Ireland at the 2018 World Rugby U20 Championship in France.
“His game will need to evolve to thrive at the next level, with the amount of lateral running and stepping that he does likely to catch him out in Super Rugby, where he will have less space and defenders will be faster than he’s used to, but there’s no doubt that if he can make those adjustments, he could be knocking on the Springboks’ door in the next RWC cycle.”
A stellar Super Rugby debut could catapult Simelane into the Test arena much sooner given the lack of proven depth at 13 behind Bok incumbent Jesse Kriel – Lukhanyo Am missed much of 2018 through injury, Lionel Mapoe has yet to translate regional form into the international variety and EW Viljoen has faded after a promising 2017.
The list of players to watch also included Crusaders fullback Will Jordan, Jaguares tighthead Lucio Sordoni, French teenage-sensation Jordan Joseph (No8), England U20 centre Ollie Lawrence, Fiji junior centre Vilimoni Botitu, Georgian loosehead Guram Gogichashvili and Scarlets centre Corey Baldwin. There was also an honourable mention for Japan U20 finisher Halatoa Vailea, though the giant on the opposite wing, Siosaia Fifita looks like a man with a long Test career ahead of him.
— Staff Writer