Springboks

Potgieter a Bok dark horse?

2015-06-26 12:38
Jacques Potgieter (Gallo Images)

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, SA time).

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 that Vermeulen’s.

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 shortly ...

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

Read more on:    springboks  |  jacques potgieter  |  rugby
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