The Springboks still have 20 of the 23 players (presuming Duane Vermeulen will be unavailable until the closing stages of their upcoming series) who featured in the 2019 World Cup final available as they return to international action against the British and Irish Lions, so there is probably not much scope for fresh faces to burst on to the scene.
But there are still opportunities for some players to show they can be trustworthy regulars in the couple of years leading into the next World Cup.
Here we take a look at three players who’ll be keen to make a big impression in the coming weeks.
The 32-year-old suffered the misfortune of being injured in the first week of the 2019 World Cup and missed out on the final.
One of seven props in the squad, the Bulls star will want to return to his preeminent place in the tighthead pecking order alongside Frans Malherbe and will need to see off the claims of Vincent Koch, who came off the bench early in the second half of the World Cup final, and the versatile pairing of Thomas du Toit and Coenie Oosthuizen, who can both be considered ‘swing props’.
But Nyakane says he is up for the challenge.
“This is a completely different environment. There’s less room for error and all the players are top quality, do you need to step up to that level, make it as hard as possible when it comes to selection, give them a headache when it comes to picking. Healthy competition Is good.”
Marco van Staden
The Bulls No 6 is sometimes described as a typical fetcher who gives away lots of penalties, but this is misleading because Van Staden has contributed in so many different aspects of play for the South African pace-setters l.
While he has conceded 11 penalties in the Rainbow Cup and won several turnovers, he has also won 91% of the tackles he was called to make and gains 2.1 metres per ball-carry.
So he is tending towards the sort of hybrid flank that could be very useful to Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber’s replacements bench.
When people think of the 31-year-old Toulouse star, they have a picture of a hugely physical loose forward making big carries and bashing away on the gain-line. But Elstadt has developed his game at the European champions and has also become a trustworthy lineout forward.
With locks Lood de Jager and RG Snyman both in doubt due to injury concerns, Elstadt has the chance to become a regular in the Springbok 23 particularly because of his utility value.
“For us, coming from this side of the world, we can have a bit more of a contribution, I hope. We have played a bit more rugby up in the northern hemisphere than the guys in the south. They have only been playing against each other, whereas we have played a lot against the guys in the Premiership and Pro14 who will be on the Lions tour,” Elstadt told the Talking Rugby Union website this week.
“We have got quite a good feeling about it. I am really amped to be going and joining the boys and see if we can’t go and win another title.”