Bokrometer: 22 players on Rassie Erasmus’ radar as Springbok captain Siya Kolisi returns and the Butcher shines

Jared Wright
Siya Kolisi playing for Racing 92, Springboks head coach Rassie Erasmus and Bulls star Kurt-Lee Arendse.

More positives than negatives for Rassie Erasmus as the Springboks' Tests draw nearer.

As the international season draws nearer, we look at the Springboks hopefuls pressing for honours and provide an update on key players that will be on Rassie Erasmus’ radar.

In our fourth edition of Bokrometer, we dive deep into the performances of players in the URC, Premiership and Top 14 as well as some injury concerns for the Springboks.

Siya Masuku

Reports this weekend stated that the Sharks pivot has kicked down the selection door and is right on Erasmus’ radar after being invited to the latest alignment camp. The Sharks will be disappointed in the way they collapsed to a defeat to Benetton, but Siya Masuku was pivotal in putting his side into a winning position. It was when he departed that the collapse well and truly occurred, which is no coincidence.

Sharks saviour Siya Masuku reportedly on Rassie Erasmus’s Springboks radar following influential run of form

Jean-Luc du Preez

The Du Preez brothers are always on the Springboks‘ radar despite plying their trade in the Premiership and this weekend, Jean-Luc put his hand up yet again.

He went toe-to-toe with Jasper Wiese in a bruising clash between Sale Sharks and Leicester Tigers. His versatility will always be a huge asset to the Boks and perhaps he and his sibling Dan could become more regular contributors this World Cup cycle.

Thomas du Toit

Another week, another Thomas du Toit try as the Bath-based prop took his scoring tally to 11 with Johann van Graan’s charges. There is no doubt that the 2019 Rugby World Cup winner will be a key member for the Springboks going forward and while he is racking up the try-scoring tally, he still is performing to an incredibly high standard in the set-pieces and around the park.

Juarno Augustus

The Saints star man put in another bullish shift this weekend as Northampton hammered Gloucester 90-0 at Franklin’s Gardens. It was more of a training run for the Saints on Saturday but Augustus did not drop his standards in another performance that will still pique the selectors’ interest.

Tyrone Green

Harlequins endured a second-half collapse in their defeat to Exeter Chiefs in the final game of the Premiership weekend, but the fullback still impressed, beating six defenders and scoring a try for the Famous Quarters. Green qualifies for England this year and has effectively stated that he would consider the Red Rose if the Boks don’t come calling.

Sacha Fenberg-Mngomezulu

Back with a mighty bang! Fenberg-Mngomezulu marked his return from injury with a quick-fire brace, rounding off outstanding scores as the Stormers secured a challenging bonus-point win over the Dragons. The 22-year-old was only on in the final 10 minutes of the match, but he made a stellar impact. He is bound to be in the Springboks jersey at some point in his career, and if he can string a few strong performances together from now on, that call could come sooner rather than later.

Warrick Gelant

Player of the Match in the Stormers’ win over the Dragons at Rodney Parade, Gelant started the match poorly but bounced back to steer John Dobson’s side to victory. That kind of mentality is a huge asset at international level. He fell out of favour when he moved to France, but he is hitting his form at a good time to receive a recall.

Evan Roos

Duane Vermeulen’s retirement has created a void in the Springboks squad and Roos is well-placed to fill it if he continues this run of form. He has been criticised for his ill-discipline this season but he stayed on the right side of the referee this weekend and scored a crucial try in the win over the Dragons.

Neethling Fouche

A turning point in the Stormers’ victory over the Dragons was their ability to win the scrum battle in the second half, which coincided with Fouche replacing Frans Malherbe. Sometimes, the referee needs to see a different picture from the front-rowers, and Fouche delivered just that in a performance that will do his Springbok aspirations a world of good.

Kurt-Lee Arendse

Arendse was already a crucial member of the Springboks squad last year, having pushed Makazole Mapimpi out of the starting XV. He went on to produce game and tournament-deciding performances at the Rugby World Cup, but his form this season suggests that he is yet to hit his ceiling.

He brilliantly set up a try for Elrigh Louw – more on him shortly – this weekend and has arguably been the best player on the park in his last five or so games for the Bulls. The former butcher may well be the most in-form backline player in the world right now and Tony Brown must be licking his lips as he cooks up plans to get the most out of this sublime talent.

WATCH: Kurt-Lee Arendse RIPS through Glasgow to set up an outrageous try

Ruan Vermaak

Vermaak flies under the radar for the Bulls but got his plaudits this weekend in a Player of the Match performance against the table-topping Glasgow Warriors. Hard-working second-rowers are always appreciated by the Test set-up and although he may fly under the radar for the onlookers, it won’t be the case for Erasmus and co.

Elrigh Louw

The powerhouse back-rower looks more and more like a Springboks loose forward with each passing week, and Louw put in a statement shift against the  URC league leaders, topping the running metres, carries and featured among the top five tacklers for the Bulls in their win.

Louw is seen as a potential successor to Pieter-Steph du Toit in the future but is already pressing for more time in the Springboks squad in the near future.

Aphelele Fassi

The Weekend Special was up to his usual tricks this weekend as his fine form this season continues. The Sharks had their issues under the high ball against Benetton, but that did not apply to Fassi, who impressed in that regard and grabbed another try off a sublime pass by Masuku. He was named Player of the Match despite the Sharks falling to a defeat and is another star in the hotly contested back-three positions for the Springboks.

Sharks injury concerns

The positives this weekend comes with the negatives and Erasmus will have had his head in his hands on Saturday as three key Springbok players trudged off the pitch before the half-time whistle. Vincent Koch was the first to leave as the tighthead suffered a setback after a season hampered with injuries, and star lock Eben Etzebeth followed soon after with a head knock. Etzebeth’s head knock will be particularly concerning in terms of his history with head injuries. Finally, centre Lukhanyo Am was also forced off before the break. The trio were all in the running to feature in the Test match against Wales and Erasmus will be hoping that their injuries are all short-term.

Sharks sweat over three injured Springboks for Challenge Cup final after defeat to Benetton

Hanro Jacobs

With Koch leaving the pitch injured, Sharks’ rising star Jacobs was tasked with playing over an hour of the fixture, and again, he rose to the challenge. The 24-year-old is another who is reportedly part of the Springboks’ plans, and while the Sharks collapsed to a defeat in the final 20 minutes, it was not Jacobs’ doing as he put in some hefty carries and held his own in the set-pieces.

JC Pretorius

South African social media was abuzz on Saturday with Lions flanker Pretorius putting a performance reminiscent to Springboks back-rower Kwagga Smith, winning two turnovers, gaining over 30 metres and beatingthree defenders. Few would have predicted that Smith would have made the impact that he had in the Springboks squad back in 2018, but he has quickly become a crucial member of the side, and perhaps Pretorius could follow a similar trajectory.

Ruan Venter

It was a good weekend for the Johannesburgers this weekend, and powerful flanker Venter is another who profited from a strong shift against Cardiff. He grabbed a try and made some telling hits on defence.

Morne van den Berg

The Lions’ success this season has hinged largely on the performances of their halfbacks with Van den Berg and Sanele Nohamba driving their run for a place in the play-offs. This weekend, the former once again impressed, assisting one of the Lions’ tries and running the attack wonderfully with Nohamba. He was involved in the first alignment camp of the year, and if the Lions don’t make the final of the URC, he could well be making his Test debut at Twickenham.

Emmanuel Tshituka

Erasmus may well be pushing the bigwigs at SA Rugby to sort out the Tshituka brothers’ passport/eligibility situation sooner rather than later with both of the Democratic Republic of the Congo born back-rowers shining for the Lions and Sharks this season.

This weekend, Emmanuel Tshituka delivered a sensational super-sub shift, scoring two tries to seal the bonus point victory for the Lions. Whether he is at number eight or on the side of the scrum, Tshituka has been a shining light for the Lions.

Siya’s takes on eight

Over in France, Siya Kolisi made his return from injury, starting at number eight for Racing 92 in their defeat to Bayonne. It was a rather understated performance from the World Cup-winning skipper, but Erasmus will be pleased that he got through a full 80-minute match without sustaining another setback.

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