There is no doubt that the one position the Springboks never seem to be short of personnel in is the loose trio. South Africa seems to possess a conveyer belt of players custom designed to fulfil the role on the sides and/or back of the scrum. Just as one nears the end of his illustrious career, another pops up to claim the jersey for himself. This, not taking into account all the talent and quality that ply their trade during these periods and who have to consign themselves to mere cameo's when given the chance.
Currently the Springbok loose trio, when fit, easily features Siya at 6, Pieter-Steph at 7 and 'Thor' at 8. Kwagga Smith had a great season in 2021, standing in for PSDT once he got injured. Whilst Jasper Wiese assumed the understudy role to Vermeulen. There were also caps on offer for Marco van Staden, Rhynhardt Elstadt with Dan Du Preez receiving a call up for cover at 8 too. Most, if not all of these players will feature for the Boks in 2022 again and only Duane towards the tail end of his career at the moment.
So then what of the other youngster on the rise? Earlier this week I wrote about Evan Roos and how he had put his hand up for a national call up. He is not the only player though who is more than justified in harboring hopes of their phone buzzing with a message from Jacques Nienaber when he selects his Springbok squad in the next few months. Elrigh Louw has been a stand out for the Blue Bulls this year, and this is quite a statement knowing they boast numerous Bok's in their loose trio at any given moment.
At 112kg and standing at 1.95m tall, he would not look out of place in the green & gold at all. Louw represented SA at the u21 World Cup in Argentina in 2019 and has been on an upward trajectory ever since. Having moved to the Cheetahs for his junior rugby at both u19 and u21 levels, he then moved on to the Southern Kings, making his debut for them in 2019 against Cardiff Blues in the then named Pro14 (currently URC). It wasn't until he joined the Blue Bulls under Jake White however that SA started to take notice of the youngster. He even had the guts to take on Duane Vermeulen when he was at the Bulls with a scuffle between the two taking place at training.
Louw has become renowned for his physical approach to contact as he carries well, and makes a menace of himself around the fringes. So far in the URC he has amassed 126 carriers and sits in 6th place behind fellow team mate Marcell Coetzee with 131. He is a powerful player and has the physical aspects in place that are commonly required of a player before selection to the national side. Will this be his year?
With a strong set of loose forwards already involved in the Bok set up, and Marcell Coetzee and Evan Roos putting their hands up too, Louw definitely has his work cut out for him. All he can control at this stage is how he performs for the Blue Bulls and the rest will be up to the selectors. I believe his most likely route to higher honors will come through strong showings for the SA 'A' side when they play their mid-week games during July's incoming tour against Wales.