Cape Town – Jacques Potgieter will be the lone South African
starting a Super Rugby semi-final on Saturday ... in what may amount to his
Sydney-based swansong if the Waratahs lose to the Highlanders (11:55 kickoff,
Whether his tenure with the defending champions ends this weekend
or next – in the final – we already know that the brawny blindside flanker and
occasional lock is returning to home pastures soon, on a two-year with the
Sharks from the start of 2016.
But television pundit and former Springbok loose forward and
captain Bob Skinstad is just one critic who suspects “Jackpot” – his
affectionate nickname at the ‘Tahs – could see renewed action sooner than we
think in a green and gold jersey.
Potgieter, 29, played the last of his three Bok Tests
against Argentina in Mendoza in 2012, Heyneke Meyer’s first year as head coach,
when Frans Steyn’s charge-down try spared SA blushes in a 16-16 draw.
But it is widely acknowledged that his skills-set, to
complement his known physical qualities, has improved considerably in Australia
after he had just seemed too unsubtle and cumbersome in fledgling international
assignments three years back.
Speaking on SuperSport’s Boots & All chat show on
Thursday night, Skinstad interestingly raised the question: “Do we think
(Potgieter) is going to be included in the Bok squad? I think we could ... get
a surprise at the weekend.”
He said it was possible Potgieter had a better chance of
selection – the Bok squad for the World XV game and Castle Rugby Championship
is due to be revealed around 14:00 on Saturday – given the current injured
status of key Bok loosies like Duane Vermeulen and Schalk Burger.
Vermeulen has a neck injury – not always the easiest
condition to confidently put a return date on – whilst stalwart Burger is also
nursing a groin problem that inconveniently ruled him out of the Stormers’
ill-fated finals series encounter with the Brumbies at Newlands last weekend.
There has been no official word on when the latter is
expected to be fully fit again, although his injury ought to be more short-term
In addition, beefy Bok blindsider Willem Alberts, so often a
selection favourite of Meyer’s, has been prone to ongoing niggles this season
and not been in best form at all for the Sharks when able to run out for them.
The Cheetahs’ promising tearaway Oupa Mohoje, who earned
seven caps for the Boks during 2014, has only just returned to full service
after several months’ absence during Super Rugby.
All of these uncertainties may well add substance to
Skinstad’s suggestion that Port Elizabeth-born Potgieter is set for a slightly
unexpected ticket back to national colours when Meyer shows his hand very
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