JOHANNESBURG – The 2019 Rugby World Cup kicks off in five days’ time and on Saturday the Springboks open their challenge with a match against the defending champions, the All Blacks.
Over the course of the next few weeks a number of players will become household names and here we identify five Bok World Cup rookies who could become world stars.
The now 25-year-old made his debut for Western Province in 2013 and showed plenty of attacking ability, but was never really considered to be of Test quality. He was on the fringes of national selection, but after being overlooked opted to continue his career with Toulouse in France.
After ripping defences to pieces there it came as no surprise when he was called up last year by coach Rassie Erasmus. While maybe not a first choice option immediately he quickly became a Bok star, by scoring tries, hassling defences with his pace and quick feet and tackling men twice his size.
Not the since the days of Jaque Fourie have the Boks seemingly had a backline organiser like they do now in the form of the 25-year-old Sharks man. He’s got everything you want in a 13 … this is his time to stand tall.
The experienced Faf de Klerk is the man in pole position to wear the No 9 on his back, but it could very well be that Jantjies becomes the next big thing following the World Cup.
Jantjies has come from virtually nowhere to be regarded a secret weapon for the Boks. The world knows De Klerk, but only a handful of viewers know what Jantjies can do – and has done.
The world knows what Eben Etzebeth, Pieter-Steph du Toit, and even Lood de Jager can do, but over the course of the next few weeks it is Mostert who could top them all in terms of having the greatest impact. He’s no rookie with 32 Tests behind him and he’s no brawler at just 1.98m and 112kg, but he’s a grafter and he’ll make his presence known.
As the line-out caller his role is massive, but it’s the work he does in the rucks and mauls, and in the defensive system that make his standout.
Four years ago he was a rookie in the Lions set-up and watched the World Cup from his couch at home. In 2019 he is the most talked-about hooker at the tournament in Japan and regarded one of the players to watch over the following few weeks.
At his best he is a 10/10 player (just ask the All Blacks), but he’s also had a few off-days and goes into the tournament with a few questions being asked about his form. If he fires – he’ll be sensational.