With just three Currie Cup matches to go, here’s a look at five players who have used the domestic championship to prove they’re capable of boosting the Springboks’ year-end tour to Europe in November.
Warrick Gelant has been sensational this season. The Blue Bulls fullback has continued to develop his skill-set, adding lethal grubbers in behind the defence to great effect, while his playmaking ability and try-scoring exploits made him stand out among his Curie Cup peers.
Though defence and kicking are areas he can work on, Gelant has earned the right to challenge Andries Coetzee, and his versatility makes him a candidate to line up on the wing if needed.
The most underrated player in the Currie Cup, Griquas centre Tertius Kruger racked up impressive numbers in tackle turnovers, tries scored and linebreaks, not to mention impressive levels of ball-handling, side-stepping and passing.
Deceptively strong, Kruger stripped the ball off countless forwards while making dominant tackles. In what was a breakout season, his vision and ability to break the line made Kruger a threat to defences as he looked to stake a claim as the premier inside centre in the country.
JD Schickerling is a warrior. Tipping the scales at 113kg and standing 2.03m tall, the towering Western Province lock forward has been brilliant in all facets of play. It isn’t just his physicality and athletic strengths that separate him from his counterparts but his leadership and ability to change the game with dominant hits. He is a lineout general that has not only steered the Cape Town side’s lineout but also managed to pinch opposition throws.
Makazole Mapimpi is a try-scoring machine. The man knows his way to the try-line and has the heart of a lion. Unofficially, Mapimpi has the best post-try celebration in the southern hemisphere!
A good tackler and an under-appreciated defender, Mapimpi has proven himself worthy of a spot in the Springbok squad. Though he doesn’t kick often, when he does, the ball travels. He averages 28 metres per kick, close to All Blacks flyhalf Beauden Barrett’s average of 32 metres per kick.
Mapimpi has scored 23 tries in 2017 made up of five in the PRO14, seven in the Currie Cup and 11 in Super Rugby.
Cyle Brink deserves higher honours. Tasked with wearing the No 6 and No 7 jerseys for the Lions this season, he has not disappointed. Brink matches powerful ball-carrying with strong defence. A deep understanding of the game means Brink knows when to take up the ball and when to offload and he has been pivotal to the Lions’ continued success.
A few European clubs have appreciated his qualities and there are rumours that his name appears on a few shopping lists. He’ll be hoping that his good performances haven’t gone unnoticed by the Bok coach.
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