Rugby Championship

Lions centre may prove his test mettle on Baabaas side

2016-10-02 05:40
Rohan Janse van Rensburg in action for the Golden Lions Under-21 side (Gallo Images)

Johannesburg - Springbok supporters will know if Rohan Janse van Rensburg is test material on November 5.

The stout Lions inside centre has received an invitation to represent the Barbarians in a match against the Springboks at London’s Wembley Stadium.

If he isn’t called up by Allister Coetzee first, or if he doesn’t get the necessary approval from the Lions for this R80 000 windfall, this smart marketing move on the part of the Baabaas would certainly ensure there’s big local interest in the match.

Money may well not be the primary motivation for the 22-year-old former Hoërskool Waterkloof pupil to play for the Baabaas – chances are, he would play for free, just to have the opportunity to show the national selectors he is good enough for test rugby.

His commitment to the ideal of playing for the Boks cannot be in question. To make his dream come true, Janse van Rensburg earlier this year said no to overseas offers and extended his contract with the Lions to the end of next year.

After his years in Super Rugby, there is little doubt that Janse van Rensburg, who weighs 109kg and is 1.85m tall, is South Africa’s leading attacking inside centre.

He does, however, still have a bit of convincing to do when it comes to his defence skills, but the Springbok coach doesn’t have anything to lose should he give Janse van Rensburg and Francois Venter a chance at a centre combination. Especially considering that Coetzee was still uncertain over his first-choice centre pairing ahead of Saturday's test against the Wallabies.

The Springbok coach has previously said he would not consider overseas players such as Johan Goosen, Willie le Roux, Bryan Habana, Morné Steyn, Francois Hougaard, Francois Louw and Steven Kitshoff for the test against the Barbarians.

The match against the famous invitational team based in Britain does not fall within World Rugby’s so-called test window.

There is thus uncertainty if players such as Lionel Mapoe, Elton Jantjies, Warren Whiteley, Jaco Kriel and Franco Mostert – who have contracts with Japanese club teams – will be available for the Wembley match-up.

The possible absence of Mapoe could even strengthen Janse van Rensburg’s and Venter’s chances of playing for the Boks against the Baabaas. Janse van Rensburg is likely to address this possibility with the Baabaas in advance.

The underestimated Lions hooker Akker van der Merwe is in the same position, having received an invitation from the Baabaas and needing the necessary approval from the Lions.

Another South African, the exciting Jean-Luc du Plessis, is likewise waiting on Western Province’s approval for him to join the Baabaas. The fly half is soon expected to recover from an ankle injury, which has kept him off the field.

The Baabaas are due to play against Fiji at Belfast’s Kingspan Stadium on November 11.


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