Forwards coach Deon Davids said on Monday that the fact that there are so many versatile players in the Springbok squad, including the Du Preez twins, Jean-Luc and Dan, will have a positive effect on selection for the British and Irish Lions series.
While both Jean-Luc du Preez and Rynhardt Elstadt were designated as utility forwards in the official team announcement, the likes of Jasper Wiese, Siya Kolisi, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Dan du Preez, Franco Mostert and Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg can also play in a couple of positions.
Four of the seven props also have some experience of playing on the “other side”.
“It’s good to have players with versatility and guys like the Du Preez twins and Pieter-Steph are also good lineout forwards,” Davids said from Bloemfontein, where some of the 46-man Springbok squad are already gathered in the Free State capital ahead of the Test season.
“The Du Preez twins especially have a lot of versatility and can feature in the lineout as both locks and loose forwards. It’s been good to see them take their games to another level with Sale.
“They are quality rugby players, very physical, good lineout forwards and ball-carriers. They can both give and stop momentum. In Europe they have been playing against quality internationals week in and week out. They get involved in battles, they have high work-rate and it’s fantastic to see them step up. We are looking forward to having them here.”
Davids added: “Rynhardt Elstadt can also assist at No 4 as well.”
While some critics have suggested captain Kolisi is not playing well enough at the moment to be a first-choice loose forward, notwithstanding that the omission of the inspirational skipper would really set the cat among the pigeons, Davids said the Springbok management have been monitoring the Sharks star that will turn 30 on Youth Day (Wednesday) since his return from injury and they are happy with his progress.
“We have been in communication with Siya and the rest of the players for a while about the fundamentals and technical aspects of their performance,” Davids said.
“Siya is definitely coming back, there has clearly been an improvement with the way he plays with the ball and especially off the ball. It was fantastic to have him at training today (Monday) with his experience and just the way he is continually going. He is a core part of the whole pack.
“The camp started with a lot of energy and excitement last week and it’s been a while since we’ve been together for on-field sessions. We now have the opportunity to implement the stuff we have spoken about a lot in the alignment camps.
“Last week went very well and today there was a big focus on our exit plays, then we will do attacking plays and Thursday will be a lot of defence.”