The Springboks have mixed the great with the mediocre so far this year, but here are three backline players who have consistently shot the lights out.
Lukhanyo the Ambelievable is probably the best player on the planet right now, but he’s definitely the classiest. The Sharks skipper just gets better every time he runs onto a rugga pitch and produced some characteristically magical moments in the All Blacks series; including stunning try during the Boks’ second-half fightback at Ellis Park.
With a defensive game on par with that of the great Jaque Fourie, coupled with some of the deftest touches you are ever likely to see from a midfielder, let alone a South African one, the rise of Lukhanyo continues.
Willie Le Roux
As evidenced in the Boks’ first five Tests of the year, and if it wasn’t clear already (which it was, in case you were wondering), Le Roux is utterly indispensable to the national side’s cause. Aside from his excellent positioning at the back, his distribution and link play as Jacques Nienaber’s secondary playmaker is paramount to the Boks’ approach. He may have his detractors, but those that know the game appreciate the 33-year-old’s value as the Boks’ best bet at fullback.
While Willie has mostly played off the bench this year, there’s no question that he would be the starter in the No 15 jumper if the Boks were in a World Cup final tomorrow. And rightly so.
Really enjoyed this piece of play from Willie le Roux yesterday.— The Loose Head (@TheLooseH) August 14, 2022
Starts inside Clarke and runs a great overs line when the pass is in the air.
Takes possession outside Clarke, which draws in Barrett.
He then times the pass to Am perfectly; not to mention Am's finish. pic.twitter.com/GqDaa2HWEP
Willemse followed up his world class performances for the Stormers in the United Rugby Championship with some sparkling showings at fullback for the Boks against Wales and New Zealand; an even more impressive feat considering he played the majority of the franchise season at No 12. The Paul Roos Old Boy has long been touted for a great Test career and he’s finally making good on that potential, with his extended run in the starting lineup guaranteed to benefit him down the line.
While Willie is still the No 1 No 15 in town, the talented and versatile Willemse will become increasingly important for the Springboks in the build up to next year’s World Cup.