Thinus Delport highlights two Boks to keep an eye on in the Rugby Championship
Thinus Delport gives his verdict on two players he thinks can make an impact for the Springboks in this year’s Rugby Championship.
South Africa start their 2018 campaign in Durban with the first of their back-to-back matches against Argentina, with the second fixture taking place in Mendoza seven days later.
The Springboks have not won the Rugby Championship since 2009 but go into the competition off the back of an encouraging 2-1 Test series win over England in June.
South Africa vs Argentina
August 18, 2018, 3:30pm
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Siya Kolisi retains the captaincy for the Rugby Championship and Rassie Erasmus’ 35-man squad includes three uncapped players; forwards Marco van Staden and Cyle Brink, plus 20-year-old back Damian Willemse.
With Warren Whiteley, Eben Etzebeth and Francois Louw all returning, Erasmus has a wealth of experience to call upon in the Springbok pack. However, it’s two backs that have caught the attention of Sky Sports analyst Delport; a fresh face and a familiar name…
The 2014 World Rugby Junior Player of the Year, now 24, made his Test debut against Scotland in Port Elizabeth four years ago.
Pollard’s rise up the ranks was a rapid one; his first full cap came just a week after returning from his third World Rugby U20 Championships, and his 246 points in 29 appearances highlight his great ability to influence a Test match.
“[I’m excited to see] the resurgence of Pollard, he was out for two seasons with some serious injuries so really didn’t get that game time to develop,” said Delport.
“Elton Jantjies is there and a young pup coming through, Damian Willemse, are really strengthening that depth that we have at ten in terms of the decision-making.”
The game management of the fly-half was clear during the recent three-Test series against England, and his relationship with scrum-half Faf de Klerk looks to be going from strength to strength.
The play-maker combines a physical frame – 6ft 2in and 97 Kg – with a thirst to take the ball to the line and high-class distribution skills on both sides.
Pollard’s temperament lends itself to the Test arena; nothing seems to faze him, and if he gains sustained run of matches during this Rugby Championship campaign it should be of great benefit to South Africa.
The second back that has captured the attention of our Sky Sports analyst is a 23-year-old winger who has recently emerged onto the scene.
“It’s not often that you get very excited about South African backs but certainly the star for me, that’s shone and was already rewarded earlier in the season with a test debut, is Aphiwe Dyantyi,” said Delport.
“He’s been absolutely scintillating and brings a lot of pace, a lot of raw pace, and on the back of that he’s also got some fine skills and a really balanced running style.
“He’s got good distribution and, most importantly for a left winger, he’s comfortable on his left foot. We’ve seen in Super Rugby that he’s been able to use little attacking kicks to create opportunities for himself.”
“He’s gone the long way around. You look at pathways and a lot of players get absorbed in those pathways, academies,” said the former Springbok.
“But, he was told that he was too small and he lost a bit of interest in the game, went to university and studied at the University of Johannesburg.
“He got that passion back whilst he was at university, motivation to play again and suddenly he has blossomed. He’s really stepped up this season in a Lions shirt and has been rewarded with a Springbok opportunity.”