- Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber is happy with the options he has at flyhalf despite the mounting absentee list in the key position.
- Frans Steyn will be running in the position when they face Argentina at Kings Park on Saturday.
- Nienaber said they’re not shy of giving young players a chance when the opportunity arises.
Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber dispelled the notion that they require a bunch of flyhalves to ease injury concerns, especially considering their current pivot crisis.
Fran Steyn will be their fourth choice of flyhalf when he starts at 10 against Argentina at Kings Park on Saturday.
Injuries to Damian Willemse and Handre Pollard, along with Elton Jantjies’s absence from the team, means Faf de Klerk must deputise as the reserve 10 on the bench.
There’s no question about Steyn’s ability as a 10 and a rugby footballer, the length of his career proves that, but the use of the alignment to get other flyhalves up to speed now comes into the spotlight.
Nienaber preferred to trust their processes, saying that they’d rather focus on working with a smaller group of specialist 10s so they can give them the best possible attention.
“If one goes the route of taking five specialist 10s to a training camp, there’s also the unlikely possibility of using five specialist 10s,” Nienaber said.
“At a World Cup, you can take two specialist 10s and your next back-ups within the squad will be guys that cover there for you.
“Most teams are made up like that and even if we took five 10s to an alignment camp, when you look into the time and effort we put into a player, it doesn’t always make sense.
15 Willie le Roux, 14 Canan Moodie, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Frans Steyn, 9 Jaden Hendrikse, 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Steven Kitshoff
Substitutes: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Ox Nche, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Franco Mostert, 20 Duane Vermeulen, 21 Kwagga Smith, 22 Faf de Klerk, 23 Kurt-Lee Arendse
“If you have eight hours dedicated to one flyhalf each, it doesn’t always work out like that, whereas if you have two or three, you can put in more time.
“The possibility of bringing more is there, but you’re not going to use all of them.”
Nienaber is also not concerned by Steyn’s age, saying there are several young flyhalves who can and will ask pressing selection questions in the United Rugby Championships.
Jordan Hendrikse had a decent outing for the Lions despite their 31-15 loss to the Bulls last week, while Johan Goosen is in the advanced stages of his comeback for the Bulls.
There’s also Manie Libbok at the Stormers, who at some point will have his current crown tested by Sasha Mngomezulu and Kade Wolhuter.
Nienaber made it clear that they’re not averse to letting the kids play, even though he’s reverted to a senior in Steyn for what is a crunch game.
“We saw a bunch of young guys in the United Rugby Champions that we know can have an opportunity to play,” Nienaber said.
“We have a guy like Johan who is coming back from injury, and he always was our third-choice flyhalf, but he’s also coming back from injury.
“There are the likes of Manie and Jordan, so there are plenty of them in the URC and if we have continuous injuries in that department, we’re also a department that’s keen on giving young players a chance.
“We’ve given Canan Moodie a chance at 19, so if you’re good enough, you’re good enough.”