April to face England ‘bad boy’?

2016-05-31 15:57
Garth April (Gallo Images)

Cape Town – An increasingly likely tussle at flyhalf between Garth April and Danny Cipriani shapes up as a pleasing drawcard when South Africa ‘A’ tackle their England Saxons counterparts in a two-match series starting in Bloemfontein next Friday night.

They will have in common “Sharks” first-class allegiance this year should they lock horns then -- albeit continents apart because April is on the books of the Durban-based Super Rugby franchise and Cipriani played for Sale Sharks in the English Premiership, although he is shifting back to Wasps next season.

April, who produced some illuminating displays in Super Rugby while Pat Lambie was injured a few weeks ago, is part of the senior Springbok squad of 31 revealed by new coach Allister Coetzee at the weekend, but the Boks will also be releasing four players not involved in the match-day 23 for the first Test against Ireland to the SA ‘A’ fold.

It is difficult to imagine April not being among that quartet – Elton Jantjies (if fit) and Lambie are likely to be the senior pivots for Newlands next Saturday -- because operating at No 10 against the Saxons seems an ideal further stepping stone for the 24-year-old who grew up in the Western Cape.

The SA ‘A’ squad announced was notably short of flyhalves and fullbacks, certainly hinting pretty strongly that April – he can grace both positions, although you would imagine his flyhalf development remains of particular interest right now – will start at Free State Stadium (both matches are to be screened live on SuperSport).

Francois Brummer, the efficient but not hugely mercurial Bulls player who is 27 and has been around the domestic circuit, was the only potential flyhalf and/or fullback listed for the squad to be coached by Lions mastermind Johan Ackermann.

Smart money, then, is probably for Brummer to wear No 15 for SA ‘A’ and April to pull the strings much closer in.

Should that occur, expect April to line up opposite Cipriani, one of the stormy petrels of English rugby considering his celebrity off-field lifestyle and occasional battles with drinking-related ill-discipline.

Cipriani, now 28, has seldom had his pure talent doubted, but disciplinary troubles at least partly explain why he has only earned 14 England caps since debut in 2008, and just four appearances in the starting XV.

One of those starts was against the Springboks at Twickenham in November 2008, when the visitors earned a record 42-6 triumph under the leadership of John Smit, so this is his chance, perhaps, to start establishing happier memories against SA opposition …

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing



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