Shaun Goosen takes a look at three players who could potentially miss out when the Springboks face off against the Lions.
Ahead of the first Springbok squad announcement of the year, we identify three top players who could just end up missing out on selection for Jacques Nienaber’s 45-man squad ahead of the Tests against Georgia and the British & Irish Lions.
Curwin Bosch (Sharks)
Despite his standing as one of the Sharks’ MVPs, the return of Morné Steyn could spell the end for Bosch’s hopes of reclaiming a spot in the Bok setup. The prodigiously talented 23-year-old is unlikely to usurp Handre Pollard and Elton Jantjies as the Bok’s top two 10s, and the experience and proven track record of Steyn may swing the vote for the final flyhalf spot in the veteran’s favour.
There’s no doubting Curwin’s class and the fact that he still has another decade of rugby in him at the very least. His educated boot has been an integral part of the Sharks’ game for some time now, with his tactical and place kicking earning him plaudits aplenty. Unfortunately, he may have to continue to bide his time.
Andre Esterhuizen (Harlequins)
Esterhuizen may well have found himself in a better position for selection had he not copped a six-week ban in April for foul play — his second citing of the season. The former Shark was involved in an off-the-ball scrap during Quin’s away game against London Irish in the Premiership and ended up striking an opponent with his arm.
He was enjoying a standout season in the colours of the Quins before the sanction and could certainly have been involved at the Boks had he played over the course of the last month or so.
Raymond Rhule (La Rochelle)
It has already been confirmed that Rhule was not included in Rassie Erasmus and Nienaber’s earlier Springbok alignment camps, despite becoming one of European Champions Cup runners-up La Rochelle’s most influential players this season. The 28-year-old has been in scintillating form for the French club, even slotting into the No 13 shirt on occasion and has seemingly put to bed the questions around his defensive frailties.
He was always bound to be an outside bet but he could well force his way into squads in future if his form continues.