Louw’s Bok credentials soar after Newlands derby

Mark Keohane (File)
Mark Keohane (File)

It was supposed to be the match in which Trevor Nyakane won the right to wear the Springbok No 3 jersey in June, but in Nyakane’s injury-enforced absence it was Stormers tighthead Wilco Louw who made the most compelling statement to be the rock around which the Springbok pack gets built.

Louw was brutal at scrum time. He gave the talented Bulls loosehead Lizo Gqoboka a torrid working over, while on the loosehead Steven Kitshoff’s scrumming power and overall match contribution would have delighted Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus.

My Sport24 column of last week focused on the significance of the north versus south derby being more a Springbok trial than any Super Rugby title champion showdown, with neither of the Stormers nor Bulls good enough to win Super Rugby.

The match had all those wonderful elements associated with a national trial. It was fast, furious, physical and confrontational.

Louw and his Stormers team-mate Pieter-Steph du Toit were the biggest winners when it comes to the national squad.

The Bulls lock duo of RG Snyman and Lood de Jager have been outstanding all season, as has former Springbok captain and hooker Adriaan Strauss. The latter, given the uncertainty over Malcolm Marx’s fitness and Bismarck du Plessis’s Top 14 playoff commitments on June 2, could come out of international retirement to do a short-term job for the Springboks.

The trio are the most likely Springbok starting options, but Du Toit, who has shuffled between flank and lock gave Erasmus a reminder of his talents. He will no doubt feature in the match-23 and he will take comfort that on the day his influence overshadowed the combined efforts of De Jager and Snyman, both of whom will be in the Springbok squad.

Louw and Kitshoff would make any international coach smile. Kitshoff was good when he left to play in France but he is even better at set piece because of his overseas stint. His general play has always been exceptional and Louw, while not as dynamic as Kitshoff, is no slouch when asked to contribute outside of the scrum.

Stormers captain Siya Kolisi, in his 100th match, was also more commanding than he has been over the last month. Kolisi is a player who does seem to go up another gear when wearing the Bok jersey, but his indifferent form in matches against the Bulls (in Pretoria), Lions (in Johannesburg) and Sharks (in Durban) couldn’t be ignored.

Kolisi, at Newlands, got his fairytale win in his 100th match and more importantly the national coach would have got more comfort that Kolisi will deliver in the big matches in June.

I thought Damian de Allende was the pick of the backs and he looked every bit a Test player. If you had told me there was only one international player among the backs on display and asked me to identify who it was, I’d have gone with De Allende on performance.

It’s this kind of impact that has been an inconsistency in his game contribution in 2016 and 2017 but there has been nothing but powerful consistency in his performances in the last month.

Warrick Gelant and Handre Pollard will be in the Bok mix, but this wasn’t a match in which much went for them and it also wasn’t one in which Jesse Kriel had influence.

Stormers flyhalf Damian Willemse was electric and buzzing and every time he plays he looks more comfortable. He will play in the U20 World Championship, but like Pollard in 2014, don’t be surprised to see him promoted to the senior squad for the Rugby Championship.

The Sharks’ Sbu Nkosi and Lukhanyo Am would have reinforced their claims for Bok squad selection and Robert du Preez (flyhalf) and Andre Esterhuizen (inside centre) certainly are there or thereabouts.

The Bok bolter, given the hooker situation, could be the Sharks’ Akker van der Merwe.

The former Lions hooker, in the shadow of Malcolm Marx, moved to Durban to get more game time and whenever he has been given an opportunity he has prospered.

Mark Keohane is a Cape-Town based award-winning rugby specialist and former Springbok Communications Manager. Follow him on Twitter 

Disclaimer: Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.

Previous Mark Keohane columns on Sport24:

Newlands derby is D-Day for Springbok contenders

Kolisi needs to up his game

'X-factor' RG Snyman deserves Bok call

There is enough quality for Boks to excel in 2018

Is SANZAAR waiting for the death of a player?

Bok series will be the end of Eddie Jones

Don't blame transformation for SA rugby woes

Stormers don't have halfbacks to challenge in Super Rugby

Bulls will be a different animal under Mitchell

Back Sharks to be SA's top team

Rassie's Boks will beat England's Eddie

Shocking results, not race behind Coetzee's axing

No tournament with Sunwolves can be 'best v best'!

How Rassie plans to re-align SA Rugby

Scrap the 30-Test ruling and make Cheslin Kolbe a Bok!

Blitzboks, not All Blacks, the talk of Cape Town

Kids don't win RWCs, get back Duane, Frans!

Why Rassie is the man to take Boks forward

Paris glory won't erase Albany and Dublin gore

I'd happily take a 1-point win!

To vote against SA's bid would be an insult

Bosch will win Currie Cup final for Sharks

No current Bok would make 2007 team!

Dublin is D-Day for Boks

All Blacks' lack of desire gives Boks a sniff

Boks will beat Wallabies, but...

Bok changes won't spell panic

Boks will run All Blacks close

Win or lose in Perth, Boks have made progress!

Etzebeth is the right choice for Bok captain!

Kriel sets example others should follow

Combrinck to lead Lions to Super Rugby title

Jantjies the man to lead Lions to glory

Stormers WILL reach Super Rugby semis!

Stormers need to back youngster Willemse

Serfontein, Mostert the Boks standouts

Boks must extend Brendan 'Mr Fixit' Venter's role

Coetzee's Lions-laden Bok side can't lose!

Expect a different looking Bok starting XV!

Fear not, Boks will whitewash France 3-0!

Hey Allister, load the Boks with Lions!

The RWC 2019 gods have smiled on the Boks!

Unleash Curwin Bosch on the French!

YES, an overseas-based SA team would beat the Boks, but...

The next Springbok skipper has to be...

Super Rugby cull good for SA rugby

Clap, clap ... Venter's appointment should be applauded

South African rugby NEEDS to host RWC 2023

Why SA can't have 6 Super Rugby teams

Super 12 glory is now Super 18 gory

No winner is SARU's half-cocked overseas policy

Keeping Coetzee sadly no April Fools' joke

Mediocrity must fall!

Overseas based SA players are no traitors!

Sick Boks need more than a new doctor

Joost earned more than a minute's silence

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