Boks faced with fullback conundrum


Option 1: Willie le Roux

Willie le Roux’s fullback troubles started well before the end-of-year tour. His form took a significant dip this year, both at the Sharks and the Boks, and he hasn’t yet been able to regain it. Against Ireland during the Boks’ three-Test series in June, Le Roux had all kinds of trouble. His performances were filled with lateral running, erratic kicks and a lot of second-rate passes. He was omitted from the Bok squad for the Rugby Championship, yet he started at fullback against England at Twickenham at the weekend. Why? I’d pay to know. Judging by Le Roux’s stints this year he shouldn’t even make the Springbok match day squad. But I guess desperation (and a lack of decent options to choose from) does weird things to coaches - or people, that is. To be fair, the guy needs to find his rhythm again, but he should be allowed to do that off the bench at most.

Option 2: Johan Goosen

I hope those memories from his confidence-boosting stint alongside Dan Carter in Europe have been deeply imprinted in his head - because it’s going to take some special mojo to get him back to his fine form at fullback. Goosen was superb with Racing 92, not only at outside centre and flyhalf, but also at fullback. But when he put on the Bok jersey this season, he hasn’t come close to replicating that form. His big right-footed kick and his ability to kick long-range penalties undoubtedly make him a fine pick. But against England, after coming on for Le Roux and scoring the Boks’ first try, his outing was tainted by a fumbled catch followed by a horrible kick to touch. And he didn’t seem to know what to do with ball-in-hand either. He has shown that he can perform at No 15 at the highest level, but he definitely wasn’t up to standard on Saturday.

Option 3: Ruan Combrinck

Ruan Combrinck undoubtedly has the potential to seamlessly transition from wing to fullback for the Boks. After all, it’s not like he’s never played there before. Combrinck’s natural running game and his massive right boot make him an attractive option at No 15, but I think that he can make a bigger impact on the wing. He has blistering pace, strength and power. What can I say - it’s just too big a joy watching him storm down touch (and right over an unlucky defender) to have him at fullback.

Option 4: Jesse Kriel

He made his Super Rugby debut at fullback with the Bulls, and it was his performance there that initially earned him a Springbok call-up. But against the Barbarians at Wembley Stadium last week he wasn’t very effective at the back. There was also one or two poor kicks to touch by him. Kriel possesses pace, unpredictability, great hands and impressive counter-attacking skills (which is probably why Heyneke Meyer played him at 13, and we all know that did not always go well). He is a top attacking player, but he can do with some improvement when it comes to contestable kicking and line kicks (we all know how important those are to the Boks).

Option 5 Cheslin Kolbe

Cheslin Kolbe hasn’t experienced the greatest of seasons this year, but I still feel that he deserves a chance with the Boks. After all, he is one of the very few (realistic) options who has not been tested in the position at Test level this year. We all know what Kolbe can do. But let me make it clear: I’m talking about the Cheslin who can make opponents go dilly with his wonderful feet and his sublime stepping, not the Cheslin of 2016 who hesitated too much with the ball in his arms or just aimlessly booted the ball back. He’s quick, punches above his weight and he can kick. He is definitely worth a try.

The Star

Original source: Boks faced with fullback conundrum