With the playoffs of this season’s Pro14 fast approaching, Shaun Goosen takes a look at the South African players playing in the European tournament, and selects his form XV:
- Ox Nche. (Cheetahs). The Cheetah dynamo just pips Southern Kings’ skipper Schalk Ferreira to a place in the XV. Nche has been lighting up the South African scene for a while now and it almost beggar’s belief that he has yet to be capped at national level. He also possesses a sensational turn of pace for a tight forward.
- Torsten Van Jaarsveld. (Cheetahs). The 30-year-old Namibian international has been around the block and his experience has aided in the Cheetahs’ stellar run during their debut campaign. His hard-working, no-nonsense approach has adorned him to Cheetahs fans all over the country.
- Johannes Coetzee. (Cheetahs). The tighthead completes this all-Cheetah front row, and deservedly so. A teammate of Van Jaarsveld at national level, his robust, powerful style means he is always one of the first men on Rory Duncan’s team sheet.
- David Bulbring. (Scarlets). The former Bulls man, now turning out for the Scarlets in Wales, has had a phenomenal ride since looking north in 2016. Having won last season’s Pro12 title with the men from Llanelli, it is safe to say he will have no regrets about no longer picking up splinters from warming the bench at Loftus.
- Jean Kleyn. (Munster). The towering 2.03m former Stormer has been a huge hit for Munster since joining the club two years ago. Another potential Ireland international candidate, the young man’s consistent form means he may just be turning out for the Emerald Isle sooner rather than later.
- Andisa Ntsila. (Southern Kings). Ntsila has been an exceptional performer in a Southern Kings side that continues to punch above its weight. If not for South Africa’s rich loose forward stocks, he would certainly get a look-in at national level. Still, at just 24-years-old, the mobile flanker does have time on his hands.
- Tienie Burger. (Southern Kings). The Kings flanker’s back row partnership with Ntsila has proved to be one of the Eastern Cape franchise’s most encouraging developments of the season. Burger, despite weighing in at 104kg, has proven to be every bit as mobile as his opposite numbers and continues to flourish in spite of some torrid results for his side.
- CJ Stander (Captain) (Munster). Who else? The former Bull has been one of Europe’s most consistent performers over the past few seasons and would be a no-brainer in any hypothetical overseas Saffa side. A class act.
- Tiaan Meyer. (Cheetahs). Meyer’s solid, if unspectacular, form sees him get the nod over former Cheetah and current Dragons scrumhalf Sarel Pretorius. Meyer never really cracked it at the highest level, but his showings for the Cheetahs are deserving of merit.
- Jaco van der Walt. (Edinburgh). The former Lion has been in emphatic form all season long for a spirited Edinburgh outfit who now find themselves within touching distance of a place in the knockouts. Van der Walt may just be turning out for Scotland in the years ahead, too.
- Yaw Penxe. (Southern Kings). Penxe has proven himself to be a fan favourite at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, and at just 21-years of age, he may become a household name in the near future. He is definitely one to watch out for.
- Jaco Taute. (Munster). Yet another Munsterman makes the cut, with Taute’s exceptional form having seen him pen a new two-year deal with the province last year. The explosive fullback-come-centre, who was capped three times for the Boks in 2012, is another example of the incredible local talent that opt to ply their trade overseas.
- Francois Venter. (Cheetahs). The Springbok centre and Cheetahs skipper is a very clever player, indeed. With his solid defensive game and calm aura, he always seems to put his teammates at ease around him. He is a heart-on-the-sleeve kind of player.
- Makazole Mapimpi. (Southern Kings). It speaks volumes for Mapimpi’s incredible try-scoring feats that he continues to top the Pro14 table for most tries scored despite having left the Cheetahs for Sharks in mid-January. The talented winger should earn his first Bok cap in 2018.
- Clayton Blommetjies. (Cheetahs). The Cheetahs fullback just sneaks in ahead of the Kings’ courageous Masixole Banda. With a step like a springbok and an uncanny eye for a gap, it’s no wonder Blommetjies has been snapped up by Scarlets ahead of the new season. A real maverick in his position.