Cape Town - Former Springbok front-ranker Cobus Visagie says the Springboks have plenty of talent in the tighthead prop position.
Visagie, who played 29 Tests for the Boks between 1999 and 2003, spoke exclusively to Sport24 this week when he shared his views on the current depth at tighthead prop for the national side.
Frans Malherbe will start in the No 3 jersey for the Boks in the second Test against England in Bloemfontein on Saturday, with Thomas du Toit on the bench.
Visagie said it may be a good decision to keep Du Toit on the bench.
“In South Africa there is plenty of talent among the players who pack down at tighthead. Wilco Louw started the first Test for South Africa, but I was quite surprised that he didn’t perform that well in the first half. Du Toit has been retained on the bench, which I believe is the correct call. I feel it would be premature for him to start a Test. However, he has definitely shown that he can operate at the highest level,” Visagie said.
“I saw Gary Gold tweeted that Du Toit ‘has the ability to be one of the greatest Bok tightheads of all time’. The converted loosehead prop has the makings of a very good tighthead, but I think Gary’s assertion is a little premature. We must remember that just three months ago someone had Du Toit’s number in the scrums. I also feel there is place to consider Saracens-based Vincent Koch in the playing mix.”
Visagie did admit that Malherbe’s lack of game time in recent months may prove problematic.
“Malherbe is the most experienced player, with 17 Tests to his name, but the fact is that he hasn’t played that many matches since returning from injury,” Visagie said.
Trevor Nyakane was picked to start at tighthead in the first Test against England before pulling out with an injury.
Nyakane can play loosehead and tighthead, but Visagie said he would like to see him feature at No 1.
“Trevor Nyakane has also been converted to tighthead prop and was set to start the first Test match before been ruled out with a rib injury. However, to be honest, I regard Trevor as a loosehead rather than a tighthead at international level,” Visagie said.
Visagie also heaped praise on loosehead prop Tendai "Beast" Mtawarira, who will play his 100th Test on Saturday.
"He (Mtawarira) has been one of the greatest ambassadors for South African rugby and is right up there with the recently-retired Bryan Habana. Beast’s professionalism is second to none and he deserves all the accolades that will come his way," Visagie said.
"Beast still has a few good years left in him from a playing perspective. He is an impressive physical specimen and I can’t say that I would start Nyakane at loosehead ahead of him any time soon. The 32-year-old’s scrummaging, defence, fitness and game understanding still makes him a valuable commodity."
15 Willie le Roux, 14 S'bu Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 RG Snyman, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16 Akker van der Merwe, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Thomas du Toit, 19 Jean-Luc du Preez, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Ivan van Zyl, 22 Jesse Kriel, 23 Warrick Gelant
15 Elliot Daly, 14 Jonny May, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Owen Farrell (captain), 11 Mike Brown, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Tom Curry, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Maro Itoje, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Jamie George, 1 Mako Vunipola
Substitutes: 16 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17 Joe Marler, 18 Harry Williams, 19 Mark Wilson, 20 Nathan Hughes, 21 Ben Spencer, 22 Danny Cipriani, 23 Denny Solomona