It’s out with the old and in with the new at the Springboks.
And young looseforwards Roelof Smit, Uzair Cassiem and Jean-luc du Preez know that the tour of the UK might turn out to be make-or-break for them in terms of their international careers.
The trio is expected to play for the Boks when they face the Barbarians next week, with Smit and Du Preez also staying behind as part of the squad for the Test series.
Smit, though, is the one player who can make a big difference for Allister Coetzee’s team on this tour.
With Francois Louw and Jaco Kriel ruled out because of injury, Smit is the only fetcher in the team and might become a household name in the country before the end of the year.
Bok assistant coach Johann van Graan admits that Smit still has some areas to work on, but expects a lot from the 23-year-old.
Van Graan says: “[It’s] not only the so-called fetcher that needs to sort out your breakdown, but in terms of your maul – your ripper, your first cleaning on setpiece [he has to do those things as well].
“Roelof had a fantastic year, we’ve been looking at him for a while.
“I thought he had a very good semifinal and final [in the Currie Cup], he’s got specific [skills] that he will bring to the team.
“It’s about improving his skill level and his decision-making; when to attack the breakdown and when not to; when to attack in terms your running line ability when to drop your body height in terms of cleaning; when to axe a guy at breakdown.”
Smit can take a leaf out of Cassiem’s book, with the Cheetahs star’s decision-making having impressed Van Graan immensely.
He explains: “He’s been unbelievable in last two games [of the Currie Cup].
“One thing that stands out is his decision-making in the wide channels, when to come hard, when to use his feet, when to tuck and go; defensively when to enter breakdown and when to stay out.”
Of Du Preez, Van Graan concludes: “The fact that he has won the Players’ Player of the Year speaks volumes for him.
“I cant wait to see these guys play for the Springboks.”