There’s no space for RG Snyman at Springbok level, and you just can’t help but feel for the big guy.
Consider the following: the 2.06m behemoth is in the form of his life and, in tandem with fellow Bulls lock Lood de Jager, has lit up the Super Rugby scene in 2018. Indeed, the 23-year-old, who represented the Springboks against the Barbarians in 2016, has a new lease on life under head coach John Mitchell.
His rampaging runs, audacious offloads and bullish defence have led many to call for his inclusion in the Bok setup this year, and who can blame them?
But perhaps the question that needs to be asked is, “at whose expense would Snyman be included?”
At times it appears that South Africa has enough international-quality locks to rival the country’s famous loose-forward stocks. Even if Franco Mostert of the Lions does jettison off to join Johan Ackermann at Gloucester, such names as Eben Etzebeth, Pieter-Steph du Toit and De Jager are all placed higher on the Bok pecking order than young Snyman.
At this stage, the Bok Test against Wales in Washington looks set to go ahead. Rassie Erasmus would do well to travel to the States with a second-string side in tow, thus affording his front-runners enough R&R ahead of their all-important Test series against England.
Despite having missed out through injury all season, Etzebeth, if fit, remains undroppable. Alongside Malcolm Marx, he is arguably the greatest player in the country. The likes of Du Toit, De Jager and Mostert are expected to vie for the two remaining slots in the Bok matchday 23, and therein lies the problem for Snyman.
Unless injury or a dip in form befalls one of the aforementioned, it is highly unlikely that Snyman will earn more than a handful of Bok Test caps in his career. Sure, he may get the odd opportunity against minnow nations or in one-off Tests (read: the upcoming clash versus the Welsh), but his route to the very top remains blocked. And the same could be said of other promising young locks such as Jason Jenkins, JD Schickerling and Salmaan Moerat.
In the past, we have seen capable local players of all positions fail to make the cut at international level; Derek Minnie, Jacques Botes, Lappies Labuschagne, Deon Fourie and Craig Burden to name but a few. It’s not that they weren’t good enough to play for the Boks, it’s just that they were being kept out by superior players.
There is only enough room for 23 in a matchday squad and Snyman is unlikely to get a proper look-in at international level as things stand.
South Africa’s young rugby talent leak to overseas clubs is inevitable as emerging stars who can’t break into the national team choose instead to head abroad. Former SA-U20 lock duo Jacques du Plessis and Paul Willemse are prime examples, and they’re now tearing it up in the south of France for Montpellier and earning mega-cash at the same time.
It wouldn’t be too surprising to see Snyman follow in their footsteps because, at the very pinnacle of international sport, there is no place for sentiment and, in spite of how well he may be playing, there’s no room at the Boks for Snyman.
Follow Shaun on Twitter: @ShaunGoosie
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