This is a future Springbok XV made up of young, up and coming South African players who are 23 years of age and under. These 15 players have already made successful inroads into Super Rugby and no doubt have the potential to make the step up to the highest level sooner rather than later. Some players have already worn the Springbok jersey whilst others have just started off their careers. Nevertheless, all of these youngsters still have huge room for improvement and need to perform at their best in order to reach their potential and eventually put on the Green and Gold. They are definitely ones to watch going into the next World Cup cycle on the road to 2019.
15 – Jesse Kriel – At fullback it would be impossible to look past the dangerous Jesse Kriel. He has been one of the most exciting players in Super Rugby this season since taking over the 15 jumper from Jurgen Visser at the beginning of the season. Since then the Bulls have not looked back and at just 21 years of age the potent fullback still has room for improvement. He is 2nd only to Israel Folau in metres gained this season. This shows his willingness to run and take on the defensive line. With a few more Super Rugby seasons under his belt Kriel is destined to make the Springbok 15 jersey his own for years to come.
14 – Jacobus Van Wyk – The Stormers converted centre is a big unit. The 23-year-old is 1,90 metres and 94kg. This is the sort of deadly, powerful winger that the Springboks have been crying out for for a long time. Although only in the premature stages of his Super Rugby career, Van Wyk has shown glimpses of his high potential even though multiple injuries have halted his progress. With more consistent and injury free performances over the next few seasons, putting on a Springbok jumper is definitely within in his reach.
13 – Harold Vorster – It seems that the 21-year-old has come out of nowhere to star for a brilliant Lions side this season. He is a powerful runner with slick feet and a fantastic eye for a gap. He brings an element of excitement and enthusiasm to the increasingly dangerous Johannesburg side. He has shown how versatile he can be, starring in both the inside and outside centre roles. In gameweek 9 vs. the Sharks he beat 10 defenders, the highest total by any player since July last year. This proves how strong and elusive he is as a ball runner. He is definitely a player to keep an eye on in the coming seasons. It is not difficult to imagine him in Springbok colours.
12 – Damian De Allende – There is not much to say about De Allende and his incredible potential. At just 23 he has already shown how dangerous he can be when on attack. He has beaten the most defenders this season and has made the 3rd most clean breaks. If he can improve on his defensive game, the Stormers inside centre will no doubt be the player to carry the Springboks forward in the future wearing the number 12 jersey.
11 – Cheslin Kolbe – The young Stormers flyer made his name at the 2013 Junior World Cup in France after single-handedly carving up defences throughout the tournament. At just 1,71 metres and 72kg, the diminutive former 7’s player has had a solid Super Rugby career to date. This season however has been a standout for the 21-year-old, culminating in a fantastic performance in the loss against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein. The skill, passion and bravery that he brings to the game makes up for his lack of size. Although he has been used at fullback throughout the season, he is as comfortable on the wing. He has one of the best sidesteps in world rugby, and will look to use this to his advantage in order to take his game to the next level. His hunger, determination and skill will see him in good stead to achieve his dream of playing for the Springboks.
10 – Handre Pollard – It is hard to believe that the Springbok fly half is only 21. He controls the game with such composure and elegance. He has been in superb form for the Bulls and has led them in a successful Super Rugby campaign. Even though he has missed two games, he has scored the most points in this year’s competition. If he can fine tune his attacking and kicking game and improve his defence he’ll be a tough player to handle for Springbok opposition for many years to come.
9 – Faf De Klerk – At just 1,69 metres and 66 kgs the Lions half-back is one of the smallest players to ever play Super Rugby. This matters little, as the energy and excitement that he provides for the Lions is something special. Whenever the 23-year-old is on the field he adds another dimension to the Lions attack. He is always in the right place at the right time and gets around the field effortlessly, anticipating every move. He has made the most metres by a scrum half and bagged himself three tries this season. He is on the right path for Springbok selection but needs to consistently perform at this high level in order to become the Bok half back.
8 – Arno Botha – The Bulls number 8 has massive potential, however multiple injuries have stunted his progress over the past two seasons. In June 2013, while playing his 2nd Springbok test, the 23-year-old ruptured ligaments in his knee. In 2014, soon after his return, he tore his ACL in a pre-season game, which kept him out of the entire Super Rugby season. Finally, this year he has made his comeback with great effect, putting in some fantastic performances. He will be extremely determined to recapture the form that earned him two Springboks caps at just 21 years of age. If he can keep fit and perform at his peak, he will no doubt be seen in the Springbok jumper once again.
7 – Jacques Du Plessis – The Bulls’ converted lock has had a stellar season in the number 7 jersey. He has been a nuisance for the opposition at lineout time. He’s ranked 4th this season in lineout steals and 9th in tackles made. He starred for the U20s in the Junior World Cup in France two years ago and at 2,01 metres and 119kg, he is the big and powerful unit that the Springboks love to utilise in the blindside flank position. If the 21 year-old keeps up his big performances, fine tunes his game, and adds more consistency to his play he is bound to make an impact for the Springboks in the coming years.
6 – Siya Kolisi – The Stormers’ openside has had a turbulent career so far but at just 23 years of age he has time to improve his all round game and add consistency to his performances. He made his debut in June 2013 against Scotland, coming off the bench in just the 5th minute for the injured Arno Botha. He made a massive statement in that game earning himself the man of the match award. His talent, skill and passion when he is on the field is evident, and if he can consistently perform at a high level for the Stormers he is bound to reclaim his Springbok place to add to his 10 test caps.
5 – Pieter-Steph Du Toit – The young Sharks lock has shown that he has the obvious talent and potential to be a Springbok sensation; however injury has hampered his progression. But at just 22 he has time on his side, and if he can perform at the level he showed at the beginning of his career he will no doubt add to his two Springbok caps.
4 – Eben Etzebeth – The towering lock has already proved he is the goods at international level. With 33 Springbok caps to his name at just 23 years of age Bok supporters will be expecting nothing less than at least 100 caps from the Stormers No.4. He has had his injury issues recently, but if he can stay fit and perform at the level we all know he can; he will prove to be an important player for the Stormers and more importantly the Springboks for a long time to come.
3 – Maks Van Dyk – Although he has only played 312 minutes of Super Rugby this season, the Cheetahs tighthead has shown glimpses of his talent and potential. An important player in the Baby Boks Junior World Cup victory in 2012, he has done well to step up to the plate in Coenie Oosthuizen’s absence. At 23 he has been solid in his performances this year and even though he is in the early stages of his rugby career, if he can consistently perform well for the Cheetahs he could turn into a powerful tighthead with Springbok aspirations.
2 – Malcolm Marx – The former Kes schoolboy is only 20 years old and the Lions hooker is all strength and power. Equally comfortable on the flank, he has an abundance of talent and potential, which he has shown glimpses of in his limited number of games. He was the starting number 2 for the Lions at the beginning of this season before succumbing to injury. His coach Johan Ackerman said he has the potential to be the next Bismarck. If he can stay injury free and gain some valuable Super Rugby experience, he certainly has the skill and talent to don the Green and Gold one day.
1 – Steven Kitshoff – The fiery prop has been a regular in the Stormers pack for over four years now so it is hard to believe he is only 23. He has already racked up 32 Super Rugby appearances. However, he has taken his game to a new level this season performing consistently throughout the season. He heads up a rejuvenated pack and has definitely benefited from the Stormers’ successful campaign. If he can keep up his solid level of performance he’ll definitely begin to knock on the Springbok door.
With consistent, impressive performances and correct management in the next few seasons, these players are destined to become the Springboks of the future.
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