Five Springboks who put their hands up for World Cup spots

A number of layers in the Springboks “B-team” put their hands up for World Cup spots on Saturday.

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Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus’ largely experimental delivered the goods against Australia in the Rugby Championship opener at Ellis Park on Saturday, with some players putting their hands up for further honours.

The hosts registered a resounding 35-17 victory against a strong Wallabies side, with individual brilliance proving the decisive factor at crucial moments.

While the likes of Pieter-Steph du Toit, Elton Jantjies and Eben Etzebeth delivered fine performances, their spots in the Boks’ first team have never been in doubt, and it was the rookies and the returnees who caught the eye, as well as a few players who might have perhaps been on the verge of losing their grip on their starting places, with competition for spots heating up months away from the Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Warrick Gelant

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Cape Town-180623- Springbok player Warrick Gelant tackled by Henry Slade of England in the last game of the Castle Lager Test between Springboks and England at Newlands Stadium photographer:Phando Jikelo/African News Agency/ANA

Injury stalled his progress in 2018, but the Bulls man was back in the green and gold, and produced arguably the best performance in his six Test caps.

Always a constant threat on attack, Gelant was always eager to join the line and played a crucial hand in S’bu Nkosi’s try, which put some distance between the two sides.

S’bu Nkosi

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S’bu Nkosi congratulates Herschel Jantjies after scoring his try on debut during the 2019 Rugby Championship. Photo: Gordon Arons/Gallo Images

The Sharks winger is one of those with perhaps one foot on that plane to Japan, but could have feared falling down the pecking order, thanks to competition for places in his position being as tight as ever, coupled with a relatively quiet Super Rugby campaign.

The match against the Wallabies was a huge opportunity for Nkosi to strengthen his grip on the no.14 jersey, and he grasped it with both hands, scoring a try that capped off an assured all-round performance which began with him showing a clean pair of heels to set up the first score.

Herschel Jantjies

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Herschel Jantjies scores a try during the 2019 Rugby Championship. Photo: EPA/KIM LUDBROOK

The stand-out performer on Test debut, and his performance might have pretty much penciled his name in as understudy to Faf de Klerk at the World Cup.

The diminutive scrumhalf barely put a foot wrong on his way to bagging two tries, and displayed a great deal of energy and game awareness.

Francois Louw

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Francois Louw of South Africa during the 2016 The Castle Lager Rugby Championship South Africa Press Conference at Kashmir Resturant, Umhlanga South Africa on 03 October 2016 ©Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Dispelled any notion that his powers were waning by putting on possibly his best performance in a Bok jersey in recent years.

Louw effected the steal that ultimately saw Jantjies dive over for the first try, and nullified the threat posed by Aussie skipper Michael Hooper at the breakdown.

Frans Steyn

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Montpellier’s South African number eight François Steyn places the ball during the European rugby champions cup match between Montpellier and Glasgow Warriors on December 16, 2017 at the Altrad stadium in Montpellier, southern France. (Photo by PASCAL GUYOT / AFP)

His experience, versatility and X-factor makes him an vital member of any squad he can possibly turn up for, but needed to prove he can still produce the goods in Test rugby after being out in the wilderness for over two years.

The 32-year-old needed just a cameo off the bench to prove he’s still up to scratch, and more performances of the same standard could see him leapfrog the man he came on to replace, André Esterhuizen in the pecking order and, ultimately, wrestle the number 12 jersey from Damian de Allende. 

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