Bokrometer: ‘Clutch’ Siya Masuku and ‘rapid’ Tyrone Green amongst Springboks hopefuls who lit up the semi-finals

Jared Wright
Sharks fly-half Siya Masuku and Harlequins back Tyrone Green during the Challenge Cup and Champions Cup action.

Sharks fly-half Siya Masuku and Harlequins back Tyrone Green during the Challenge Cup and Champions Cup action.

Our build-up to the international season continues as we once again review the performances of South African players who hope to feature for the Springboks this year.

This week, just one of the top franchises were in action as the Sharks tackled Clermont in the Challenge Cup semi-final at the Twickenham Stoop.

We cast our eye further than just the clash in London with South Africans in action in Toulouse and Croke Park, as well as in Japan.

Siya Masuku

It’s been a forgettable season for the Sharks in the United Rugby Championship, but on Saturday, they continued on their road to redemption, claiming a marvellous 32-21 victory over Clermont, inspired by their star playmaker Siya Masuku.

The number 10 joined the Sharks from the Cheetahs ahead of the 2023/24 season, but it’s taken a while for him to be backed in the starting XV, earning his first start against the Lions in the URC in March.

The Sharks lost on that day, but they have yet to lose another match when the 27-year-old has been included in the starting line-up and he has been named Player of the Match in his last five games, including their smash-and-grab win over Clermont, where his flawless kicking display clinched a spot in the final as he slotted 22 points in the win.

His fantastic run of form is undoubtedly registering on Springboks head coach Rassie Erasmus’ radar, particularly for the upcoming Test match against Wales, which is outside of the official international window.

The fly-half could be backed for that clash at Twickenham, particularly if his current form continues. His performance against Clermont included a clutch touchline conversion to edge his side ahead, and while he wasn’t as accurate on attack against the French club, he has flexed his attacking prowess recently, assisting five tries across the URC and Challenge Cup.

The Springboks coaches appreciate a player who steps up in the clutch moments, and Masuku certainly has that in his arsenal.

Vincent Tshituka

The usual suspects also weighed in with telling shifts to get the Sharks over the line against Clermont with Springboks Lukhanyo Am, Eben Etzebeth, Vincent Koch and Grant Williams all playing their part in the crucial moments.

However, uncapped flanker Vincent Tshituka shone once again with a brilliant shift in all facets of the game. The Clermont pack was a real imposing force throughout the clash, but Tshituka took the fight to the French side time after time.

He racked up an impressive 15 tackles and won a turnover but his best highlight of the match was a telling offload in the latter stages that led to the last try that ultimately got the win for the Durbanites.

There are still questions around the Congo-born is eligibility for the Springboks but if he continues this kind of form then perhaps Erasmus will provide some clarity.

Sharks’ mini-Bomb Squad

There were just five scrums during the Challenge Cup semi-final at Twickenham Stoop but the performances of the Sharks bench will still not go unnoticed by Erasmus and his staff.

Fez Mbatha, Ntuthuko Mchunu and Hanro Jacobs all added energy and put in solid defensive shifts in the latter stages of the game to eke out the win, this after replacing the Sharks’ Springbok starting front-row.

The Springboks’ Bomb Squad is focused on dealing with the task at hand and the replacement front-rowers did precisely that as they threw their weight around on defence to seal the win.

Andre Esterhuizen

The Springboks midfielder caused a bit of a stir with his comments on Marcus Smith in an interview with Planet Rugby last week but put in a superb performance in the clash against Toulouse.

While Harlequins’ Champions Cup journey would come to an end in the fixture, Esterhuizen was brilliant as he continues to put the pressure on Damian de Allende as the Springboks’ starting number 12.

No backline player made more post-contact metres in the semi-finals than Harlequins’ number 12, gaining 267 in total while he also beat the most defenders (six).

‘Definitely the best’ – Andre Esterhuizen ranks Marcus Smith ahead of Springboks teammates

Tyrone Green

Quins’ star full-back has admitted that he could turn out for England if the opportunity with the Springboks does not arrive, but on Sunday, he proved his Test credentials with a sublime performance against Toulouse.

He scored a glorious try against the French giants showing off his immense work rate as he gained more metres than any other player in the semi-finals while beating four defenders too.

His performance against Toulouse earned him a place in our Champions Cup Team of the Week.

Erasmus does have plenty of options at his disposal at full-back but Green is rapid and could do a fine job for the Boks on the wing as well.

Champions Cup Team of the Week: ‘World-class’ Leinster star, Springbok powerhouse and Toulouse’s workhorse shine in semi-finals

Juarno Augustus

The Northampton Saints powerhouse told Planet Rugby last week that he wants his rugby to do the talking after having no contact with the Springboks coaches, and on Saturday at Croke Park, he did precisely that.

He was incredibly effective with and without the ball, powering to 60 running metres from his 14 carries, and weighed in defensively, making 13 tackles and a turnover.

He regularly got over the advantage line against the robust Leinster defence and put in the kind of shift that will get the Bok coaches pondering about his potential in Green and Gold.

His performance included five dominant carries, five defenders beaten, two clean breaks, and two dominant tackles.

Erasmus is not short on options in the number eight jumper, and Augustus is a perfect example of the quality of their depth in the position.

‘It is my dream to play for the Springboks’ – Juarno Augustus eyes Rassie’s call despite ‘no chats’

Jason Jenkins

Staying with the clash in Dublin and replacement Leinster lock Jason Jenkins got stuck into the action at a time when Northampton were looking to complete what would have been a remarkable come-from-behind victory.

Jenkins got his hands on the ball on 10 occasions in his 27-minute cameo and crucially stole two lineouts for Leinster while also hammering into the rucks.

Cheetahs’ try-scorers

Back in South Africa and Springboks winger Sbu Nkosi crossed the whitewash for the Cheetahs in their 68-17 victory over Valke in the SA Cup.

Hooker Marnus van der Merwe – who was invited to the first Springboks alignment camp – grabbed a try in the Cheetahs’ comprehensive victory.

Japan-based stars update

There was set to be a battle of the Springboks centres on Saturday in the Japan Rugby League One with Jesse Kriel and De Allende going toe-to-toe. However, De Allende withdrew from the match prior to kick off.

Meanwhile, Kriel continued his rise back to full fitness, scoring a stunning solo try from a turnover in his own half. But it mattered little in the end with his Canon Eagles falling to a 43-14 defeat to the Panasonic Wild Knights.

The Wild Knights had Lood de Jager in their starting line-up, with the Springboks lock putting in a handy hour-long shift.

Meanwhile, Springboks star Pieter-Steph du Toit played his final game of the season for Toyota Verblitz – who have not qualified for the semi-finals. Packing down at number eight for Sir Steve Hansen’s side, he played his part in an 45-18 victory, featuring for 50-odd minutes in what will be his last game before potentially turning out in the Test match against Wales next month.

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