Bosch not ready for Bok call ... yet

Curwin Bosch (Gallo)
Curwin Bosch (Gallo)

Cape Town - It turns out that Curwin Bosch can't walk on water. Who knew?

The hype surrounding the 19-year-old this year has been spectacular, to the point where Sharks management has actively sought to protect him from media requests wherever they can. 

For a large part of the year, Bosch has commanded attention. 

He has put in some sublime performances for the Sharks in Super Rugby and has quickly emerged as one of the brightest young talents in the country, and for a while a Springbok call-up for the June Tests against France was very much on the cards. 

Taking his opportunity in the Sharks No 10 jersey with Pat Lambie out injured, Bosch has shown an attack-mindedness and creativity that South African rugby fans have been yearning for. 

He is nimble, his distribution is quality, he is quick, he can spark attacks out of nothing and his kicking - at goal and out of hand - has been impressive. 

In Super Rugby this year, Bosch boasts a goal kicking percentage of 82.7% and while his defence remains a concern - he has made just 58.6% of his tackles in Super Rugby - many were already sold on him being the complete package. 

As he single-handedly won games and collected man-of-the-match awards for fun, Bosch's star continued to rise and as the international window drew near he was included in a Springbok training camp in April.

With Lambie and Handre Pollard both out injured, Bok fans were seeking alternatives to Elton Jantjies after his struggles in 2016. Bosch seemed a tasty alternative. 

Springbok coach Allister Coetzee, though, did not buckle under the pressure. Instead, he backed Jantjies and opted for the experience of Frans Steyn as his back-up. 

Bosch, Coetzee said, should travel with the Junior Boks to the World Rugby U-20 Championship in Georgia. 

It was a decision that hurt the Sharks as Bosch had to miss a couple of Super Rugby matches, but it was also a decision that boosted the chances of the Junior Boks. 

Playing in his second U-20 World Championship, Bosch arrived in Georgia overflowing with confidence. 

You could tell in the way he went about his business. 

In that opening 23-23 draw against France, Bosch was trying ambitious steps, high-risk chips and darting runs from positions where a more sensible approach would probably have been best. It certainly wasn't his finest performance. 

While he was very good against Argentina in a commanding 72-14 group stage win, Bosch was unable to grab a hold of the game in Tuesday's semi-final against England or indeed influence it in any way.

His attempted drop goal in the 77th minute after the Junior Boks had just gone 24-22 down spoke volumes. 

With South Africa on the front foot, the play was surely to keep edging forward, build pressure and look to milk a penalty. 

Instead, Bosch panicked and snapped at a rushed drop attempt to give England the ball back and a chance to eat up some valuable seconds. 

Of course, if he had somehow knocked that drop over then we would be singing a very different song right now, but he didn't even come close and it was simply the wrong option. 

While he has been exceptional in Super Rugby, Bosch certainly didn't look a cut above any of the other international flyhalves from top-tier nations doing the rounds in Georgia. 

It suggests that Coetzee made the right call not selecting him for France, and going through this sobering experience will hopefully help Bosch in the long run.

Being exposed at the highest level too soon, on the other hand, would have done more harm than good. 

Bosch is a serious talent and one to watch for the future, but his showing in Georgia confirmed that there are still areas in his game that require work.

For me, the area that stood out most was his struggle in finding a balance between playing instinctively and sensibly; when to play high and low risk. 

Perhaps arriving at the tournament that confident was his ultimate downfall. Perhaps he underestimated the opposition. 

Whatever happened, Bosch can now focus his attention back on the Sharks. 

A Test debut is an absolute certainty, but that day should not be rushed.

Follow Sport24 journalist @LloydBurnard on Twitter...

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