Rugby 12.2.2018 04:32 pm

Four youngsters to watch out for in this year’s Super Rugby

Sbu Nkosi should be expected to reach new heights in Super Rugby with the Sharks. Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images.

Sbu Nkosi should be expected to reach new heights in Super Rugby with the Sharks. Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images.

This year’s slim-lined tournament promises better competition. But these rookies are expected not to struggle to find their feet.

Super Rugby is back this weekend with a more slimline look.

And everyone is hoping that will translate into more competitiveness after the bloated years of 2016 and 2017.

Should that happen, it’s only reasonable to expect that the rookies will have to more difficult time adapting to the rigours of the tournament.

These four players, however, are expected to find that process easier.

EMBROSE PAPIER (BULLS)

Embrose Papier. (Photo by Gordon Arons/Gallo Images)

Embrose Papier. (Photo by Gordon Arons/Gallo Images)

Bulls coach John Mitchell makes no secret of the fact that he prefers “quick” scrumhalves, halfbacks with an ability to speed up play.

In pre-season, there was plenty of evidence that the former All Blacks mentor is ready to blood the 20-year-old Junior Springbok star.

Papier is blessed with wonderful distribution, which has been a strength since his schooldays.

Despite probably not being expected to be a factor on defence, his tactical kicking is another bow to his arrow.

MADOSH TAMBWE (LIONS)

Madosh Tambwe. (Photo by Gallo Images)

Madosh Tambwe. (Photo by Gallo Images)

The man born in Kinshasa has already had a taste of Super Rugby level having made his debut last year but that exposure was more the coaching staff testing the waters.

Tambwe acquitted himself reasonably well when he was summoned though the presence of experienced campaigners limited his chances.

However, this year, injuries to Ruan Combrinck and Courtnall Skosan means the 20-year-old winger might actually have to play a key role, especially if new head coach Swys de Bruin’s backs his youth policy.

His nose for the tryline is well-known and his work rate is solid.

This campaign could see him develop his aerial skills and, perhaps, his defence too.

DAMIAN WILLEMSE (STORMERS)

Damian Willemse. Photo: Gallo Images.

Damian Willemse. Photo: Gallo Images.

In last year’s Currie Cup, Western Province coach John Dobson said the union had a “responsibility” to develop Willemse to the best of its ability.

And that meant giving him as much game-time as possible.

The great form of Robert du Preez did sidetrack those plans to an extent but he’s not present at Newlands anymore.

That means Willemse is in the inside lane to spearhead the Stormers’ attack this season given the relative lack of competition.

His 2017 wasn’t perfect but the 19-year-old showed a rare ability to recover strongly and quickly from setbacks.

That will give his coaches the willingness to take more chances on him.

SBU NKOSI (SHARKS)

The exciting Sharks winger already feels far older than he actually is.

That’s because he took to senior level rugby like a duck to water.

Nkosi has showcased varied skills on attack – an ability to glide through gaps and spot space as well as going more direct with his bulky body.

Yet the most exciting thing about the 21-year-old is his defence.

His tackle completion rate was over 90% in 2017, suggesting he reads defensive patterns well.

That’s the hallmark of an all-round, modern wing.

Nkosi will look to reach new heights after his promising start.

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