With South Africa’s first Test against England just days away, we take a look at seven stars that could re-ignite their revival this year.
A monster of a man.
The towering 6’8 Stormers lock keeps the pack well-organised and is the tipping point between winning and losing the forward battle such is his imposing presence.
Shows up all over the pitch and is an outstanding line-out option. Although he is injured for the England series, the 26-year-old has all the skills in his armoury to inspire Rassie Erasmus’s side to future success.
Makes everything tick for this Springboks side; from his box kicking, crisp passing, decision-making and to the way he marshalled his pack around ruck time.
In the post-Victor Matfield era, the Springboks are still searching for on-field leadership and – aside from Pieter-Steph du Toit and Kolisi – Pienaar has shown he can fill some of that void with his unselfish decision-making and ability to act as a ninth forward with his physicality and voracious work rate ensuring team-mates follow his lead.
His ability to take players into an attack from any position is invaluable, as well as initiating breaks that led to buckets of scoring chances during Montpellier’s run to the Top 14 final this season.
The new leader.
A high class operator at the breakdown, the Cape Town man will be a constant source of inspiration as he attempts to lead his side back among the top three sides in the game.
The 26-year-old is an instrumental presence for club and country with his strong offloading, solid carrying and smoking footwork all serious threats.
In defence, he can tackle effectively, win his own ball comfortably and show serious willingness in the tight areas.
WILLIE LE ROUX
A real filip for the Boks to have the 28-year-old available for the series.
At 6ft, the Stellenbosch native possesses pace, power, good defence and reliability under the high ball, and can act as an option for full-back and wing.
With four tries and 19 assists in 21 Premiership games, Le Roux is coming into the series on the back of his most promising campaign to date for Wasps.
If the Spingboks can get the ball out wide at pace, then it will be difficult to stop his searing speed and power from close range.
A star still waiting to sparkle.
The 2014 Young Player of the Year has reached nowhere near his potential after a series of shoulder, knee and ankle injuries has curtailed his progress to date.
Now fit and firing, the Bulls star is in a position to take control of the No10 jersey for the first time since the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
Physical in attack and defence, the 24-year-old has the ability to keep opponents constantly guessing with ball in hand and is accurate from the boot.
The former World Player of the Year nominee has been in swackbuckling form this campaign, playing key roles in Toulon’s run to the Champions Cup and Top 14 knock-out stages.
His huge physicality (6’3 and 120kg) is a menace to any opposition and – coupled with his workrate – he is an outstanding footballer with a high skill level.
If England can stop the influential No8’s dominance at the breakdown, then they will have a great chance of winning the series.
BISMARCK DU PLESSIS
One of the greatest hookers of all time.
With rising star Malcom Marx ruled out of the series, the experienced Free State man will step in to provide the firepower in the front row.
Dynamic and abrasive with exceptional reading of the breakdown, the 34-year-old is a battering ram who will be central to cutting down England’s influence up front.
With the destructive Tendai Mtawarira alongside him in the scrum, the Springboks have two rocks capable of causing damage with and without the ball.
His throwing is immaculate too.
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