With the end of every World Cup cycle, comes the sad departure of some legends of the game. It happens with every international side and as bleak as it is to see Duane Vermeulen hang up his boots for example, it is also an exciting time for the next generation of players to come to the fore. The show must go on as the saying goes and with that, new challenges will come.
The Springboks are only in action again in June/July 2024 when Ireland will arrive on our shores for a 3 test series. I imagine the Springboks, barring injury will field a similar squad to that used in the 2023 Rugby World Cup. Only Duane has formally announced his retirement at this stage, but that is not to say that all the others will be involved for the next four years. Not everyone is a Frans Steyn and I think it likely that the Irish series, Rugby Championship and end of year tour next year, will likely see the curtain fall on the careers of a few more legends of the Green & Gold.
I don't imagine the likes of Willie Le Roux, Makazole Mapimpi, Deon Fourie, Damian De Allende and possibly a few others continuing for much longer. They have earned their legend status and will eventually over the next four years, bow out of the game. They will all be missed, but I am equally keen to see the next generation come to the fore. There are three players in particular that I think should be included, sooner rather than later.
First up is the Bulls dynamic hooker, Johann Grobbelaar. The 25 year old has put in the hard yards for his club, amassing around 40 caps. Under the tutelage of Bismarck Du Plessis he has learnt to bring an incredible physicality to his game whilst ensuring his set piece strength has remained steadfast. Having played SA Schools and SA U20, he has bided his time patiently as he sat behind Malcolm, Bongi and Deon in the pecking order. With Dweba seemingly out of favor currently and Deon & Bongi aging, this is the opportunity to ensure there is an overlap between young and new in the squad, especially with Malcolm out long term with a knee injury.
Next we have the lions young center, Henco van Wyk. I had the privilege of interviewing Henco last year on the Pod. He was a humble man who was dishing out massive hits on the pitch to compliment his strong running game. He would have benefited greatly from the guidance of Springbok center Jacques Fourie and had injury not curtailed him this year, may have already gotten a look in for the national side, having toured with SA 'A' in 2022. With DDA likely leaving a massive void and big Andre stepping up to the plate, the inclusion of van Wyk early in this cycle will ensure we are well equipped when we tackle the World Cup in Australia 2027.
The last one on my Springbok must list is Harlequins 'hot knife through butter', Tyrone Green. A player who boasts the utility that has come to be standard amongst Springbok backs, he is equally comfortable at 15, 10, 12 or 14. It is his exploits in the last line of defence however that have caught my eye. With Willie Le Roux on contract for the next year with the Bulls, placing Tyron under his tutelage in the Green & Gold should happen sooner rather than later. We are blessed with Damian Willemse being young still, but depth at fullback will be an important issue to address this cycle. The former Jeppe boys High boy is deserving of a look in as soon as possible.
There are numerous other players who I hold aspirations for such as Boeta Chamberlain, Sacha Mngomezulu, Nthutuko Mchunu to name just a few. I would be keen to check out in the comments who you are looking to as a potential Bok, maybe there is someone I have missed completely.
Here we go guys, the four year cycle has already begun.