Springboks

Who will wear the Bok No 9 jersey in June?

2018-04-26 13:59
Faf de Klerk (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - The No 9 jersey will always be a special one for the Springboks

That is largely thanks to the late, great Joost van der Westhuizen, who was considered a pioneer in the development of the modern-day scrumhalf and one of the best the game has ever seen in that position. 

World Cup-winner Fourie du Preez, who played for the Boks between 2004 and 2015, is also considered a great. 

Since Du Preez's retirement at the end of the 2015 World Cup, though, the Springboks have struggled to find an obvious replacement at scrumhalf. 

For two troublesome years under former coach Allister Coetzee, the Boks were all at sea in terms of their No 9 selections. 

Faf de Klerk was backed in 2016 and then tossed in 2017 when Ross Cronje was given his opportunity. 

Rudy Paige, meanwhile, was also involved over that time frame but none of those three players did anything for their long-term chances. 

Now, new coach Rassie Erasmus must back somebody for the upcoming international window in June, and the trend of uncertainty looks set to continue. 

Erasmus has been watching Super Rugby closely this year, and while there has been a lot that has excited him, he has not been overly impressed by the scrumhalf stocks. 

"I wouldn’t say we don’t have great depth because we’ve got four franchises and they’re all playing. But I would agree that nobody has put his hand up and said 'this is my position and the starting No 9 … you’re going to win a World Cup with me'," Erasmus told media in Cape Town on Wednesday.

"That hasn’t happened.

"Our reference point will always be to ask if we will win a World Cup with a guy if we put another 18 Test matches onto him. That’s how you must judge the guys you’re going with."

Erasmus confirmed that he had been in talks with De Klerk, now based at the Sale Sharks, about a possible return to the national set-up while Cobus Reinach (Northampton Saints) is another option.

"Are we going to look at a guy like Faf who everybody has spoken about or a Cobus Reinach?" Erasmus asked.

"Or if you put another 18 Test matches on Ivan van Zyl or Embrose Papier (both Bulls) … will those guys go and win a World Cup for you? If the answer is 'yes', then you should go with those guys.

"At this stage, I don’t think anyone has put the stake in the ground to tells us that they’re our No 9 and we’re going to win a World Cup with them."

Read more on:    springboks  |  faf de klerk  |  cape town  |  rugby
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