Bokrometer: How 25 Springboks hopefuls fared as Damian de Allende flexes BMT while Jasper Wiese’s red threatens involvement

Jared Wright
Springboks head coach Rassie Erasmus, centre Damian de Allende and Jasper Wiese.

We recap who will have caught Rassie Erasmus' eye.

The club seasons are rapidly coming to a close and we take a look at the Springboks hopefuls pressing for higher honours with their form as Rassie Erasmus’ plans ramp up.

Once again, several standouts emerged from the weekend’s United Rugby Championship (URC), Premiership, Top 14 and Japanese Rugby League One action, but there were some downsides, which we will dive into too.

David Kriel

This is not the first or last time that the Bokrometer will mention the Bulls’ sensational utility back, who produced yet another spectacular performance as Jake White’s side swept Benetton aside and secured a top-four finish.

His shift against the Italians earned White’s praise after the match particularly having switched seamlessly between 12 and 13.

“I don’t talk about individual players, but jeez, David Kriel is phenomenal,” the ex-Bok coach said.

“He plays 12 and is named Man of the Match, and I move him to 13, and he looks like the best player on the field again. And that means that he is contributing to that partnership [in the centres] as well.”

With Lukhanyo Am and Jesse Kriel having a stronghold on the number 13 jumper and Canan Moodie tipped for a future in the role with Andre Esterhuizen and Damian de Allende inside of them; it’s not going to be easy for Kriel to push on into the starting team but he is making it increasingly difficult for Erasmus to overlook him.

Johan Goosen

Back from his suspension and, Johan Goosen wasted no time in getting back to his best form, producing a 58-minute masterclass with an astute kicking game and ran the attacking gameplan, steering the Bulls to 48-21 before he departed the pitch.

It’s been eight years since Goosen pulled on the Green and Gold jersey but after starring for the Bulls back in 2022, he was given a look into the squad and could earn the opportunity again.

Kurt-Lee Arendse

Last week, we questioned whether there was a backline player performing better than Kurt-Lee Arendse at the moment, and the pocket rocket Springboks flyer added another stellar shift to his impressive catalogue this season.

He was named Player of the Match in the Bulls’ victory and rightly so even with his fellow Bok winger Moodie scoring a hat-trick. He assisted a try and defied the odds using his 80kg-odd frame to power through three defenders and score.

Elrigh Louw

A leader in the Bulls pack and a player that looks hellbent on adding to his three Springboks Test caps, Elrigh Louw rampaged through another powerful shift against Benetton.

He continues to shine on both sides of the ball and against the Italians he gained over 70 running metres and racked up 15 tackles. The Boks are not short on options in the back-row but his ability to play blindside and number eight will do his hopes a world of good.

Ruan Nortje

The Bulls have enjoyed a fine season, securing a home semi-final, and because of that, it comes as no surprise that several of White’s stars will be on Erasmus’ radar.

The Bok boss has highlighted the need to get more youthful locks in the Green and Gold jersey with Ruan Nortje certainly pressing for a call-up.

25-year-old Nortje grabbed another try for the Bulls and put in a workmanlike performance, which is stock standard for the second-rower.

Canan Moodie

The youngest member of the 2023 Rugby World Cup squad, Moodie ran in a hat-trick for the Bulls against Benetton and while two of his scores were rather easy finishes, he relied on his instincts to be in the right place at the right time.

He could well feature in the centres for the Springboks going forward but continues to impress on the wing, providing Erasmus and new attack coach Tony Brown with tasty options.

Akker van der Merwe

As mentioned above, the Bulls have been excellent this season which will undoubtedly thrust several of their stars onto Erasmus’ radar and Akker van der Merwe will be one of them.

His performance against the Italians saw him claim a place in our URC Team of the Week, with Johan Grobbelaar providing the Bulls with a strong 80-minute shift from the hooker position.

Manie Libbok

Winning in Galway is no easy task but the Stormers managed to eke out a hard-fought 16-12 victory over Connacht thanks largely to Manie Libbok.

The playmaker starred for the Stormers, nailing all four of his shots at goal and assisted their only try.

Damian Willemse

Libbok was aided by the in-form Damian Willemse who shone at inside centre for the Stormers, gaining more metres than any other player in the match.

He was also strong on defence against the challenge of the brilliant Bundee Aki in the opposing number 12 jumper. Willemse came into his own on the international stage last year and his form suggests that it may only get better in 2024.

Evan Roos

Another abrasive performance from the Stormers back-rower this time on the side of the scrum where he racked up an impressive 16 tackles and 10 carries, gaining over 70 running metres.

Evan Roos is impressing at number eight and at flanker which will only improve his chances of featuring more regularly for the Springboks this year.

Salmaan Moerat

Stormers captain Salmaan Moerat put in yet another standout outing against Connacht and is bound to be in the mix for the Springboks this year if he continues his current form.

He was unfortunate with injuries in 2023 but is held in high regard by the Bok coaches and it’s easy to see why.

JC Pretorius

The Lions star is being likened to Springboks star Kwagga Smith and it is an easy parallel to draw, with the all-action flanker producing a stunning Player of the Match performance against Glasgow Warriors on Saturday.

JC Pretorius also played for the South African sevens team and has flexed his pace and power for the Lions in recent matches, but his shift against the Warriors is arguably his finest performance.

He linked stunningly on attack with excellent hands while also weighing in with 14 tackles, a turnover and scored a try. The Springboks have moved away from just favouring size in the back-row, and if Pretorius continues this form, he could earn a maiden call-up.

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Morne van den Berg

The Springboks’ scrum-half stocks are overflowing at the moment and the Lions star is one of the picks of the lot after another starring role in his side’s win over Glasgow.

He linked up brilliantly with Sanele Nohamba and kicked superbly out of hand too.

Sanele Nohamba

Staying with the Lions’ half-backs, Nohamba made yet another telling impact for his side, steering them to victory. He came off the bench in the win over Franco Smith’s side but racked up a sensational 16 points, scoring a try, converting four tries, and added a penalty.

Thomas du Toit

Planet Rugby picked the Springbok prop as the Premiership signing of the season, and he continued his strong form for his new side through to the final round of the regular season.

He did not add to his magnificent try-scoring run this season against Northampton Saints, but Thomas du Toit was powerful in the set-piece once again and put in a tidy defence shift with 14 tackles and a turnover.

Siya Kolisi

After a strong outing at number eight on his return from injury for Racing 92, Siya Kolisi returned to his more favoured role on the side of the scrum this week for the French outfit.

Stuart Lancaster’s side fell to a 20-14 defeat away to Lyon but the loss was not Kolisi’s doing as he weighed in with 11 tackles and turnovers as he managed to play another full match.

Handre Pollard

Leicester Tigers finished the Premiership season in seventh place, but Handre Pollard starred in their final game, steering his side to a 40-22 victory over Exeter Chiefs.

The fly-half managed the Tigers’ attack well and slotted all six of his shots at goal during his 54-minute cameo.

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Jasper Wiese

As mentioned above, it wasn’t all good for the South African players and Jasper Wiese is now in doubt for the two-Test series against Ireland after a red card in his final game for the Tigers.

The powerful back-rower put in another physical performance before a poor ruck clearout where he dumped Exeter Chiefs’ Ross Vintcent ended his time at Leicester.

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Jean-Luc and Robert du Preez

Sale Sharks put Saracens to the sword on Saturday to seal their place in the Premiership semi-finals, with the Du Preez brothers shining for Alex Sanderson’s charges.

Rob scored and assisted a try for Sale in the victory, brilliantly sending Tom Roebuck over the line while capitalising on a Saracens error to score one of his own. He has shone in the number 13 and 10 jersey for the Sharks this season and could well force his way back into the Test set-up.

Likewise for Jean-Luc, who packed down at number eight for Sale as Sanderson’s side dominated the gainline and won the battle up front against the aggressive Saracens pack. He and Dan are always on the fringe of the Springboks squad and may well be in the mix once again in 2024.

Damian de Allende

De Allende is a man for the big moments and proved it once again after scoring a crucial try for the Panasonic Wild Knights in their 20-17 victory over the Canon Eagles in the Japan Rugby League One semi-final.

The Springbok centre has a knack for scoring in the big matches, dotting down in the World Cup semi-final victory over Wales in 2019 and the 2023 quarter-final win over France.

His try put the Knights back in front after letting a 13-3 lead slip.

Jesse Kriel and Faf de Klerk

Meanwhile, Kriel and Faf de Klerk’s Japanese seasons came to an end this weekend in defeat.

Kriel lined up against De Allende but could not inspire his side to victory while his clubmate De Klerk was running water and the tee for the Eagles.

The Eagles deregistered De Klerk after he sustained an injury earlier in the season, meaning he was unable to feature for the side. However, it is rumoured that he has recovered from his setback and could be back in the Bok set-up ahead of the Test against Wales.

Cheslin Kolbe

In the other semi-final, Cheslin Kolbe put in a tidy performance for Suntory Sungoliath who suffered a 28-20 defeat to Toshiba Brave Lupus.

The Bok flyer gained over 60 metres, evading four tacklers and also defended well, but ultimately, Richie Mo’unga pulled the strings for the Brave Lupus, inspiring them to a 28-20 win in a tight semi-final.

Cobus Reinach

Montpellier look set to put their Top 14 status on the line in the promotion-relegation match after suffering a 29-22 loss to a largely second-string Montpellier.

However, their defeat to Toulouse had little to do with the performance of Cobus Reinach, who ran in two tries, both through stunning support lines to race through for a brace of tries.

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