Winners & losers from Bok tour: Roos, Willemse, Mostert make big gains, Du Toit's falter

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Franco Mostert. (Photo by Matt Roberts/Getty Images)
Franco Mostert. (Photo by Matt Roberts/Getty Images)

  • The recently concluded end-of-year Springbok tour saw some players' stocks rise significantly, while some fell.
  • The likes of Willie le Roux and Damian Willemse dispelled several doubters, with Franco Mostert again underscoring his utility value.
  • Thomas du Toit had the most to gain, but didn't do himself justice with the red card he earned against England.

Every Springbok tour has movers/shakers and winners/losers, but none more so than a year-end tour that takes place ahead of a World Cup year.

The Springboks are at a critical point in the preparations where some players come through and some fall away.

Despite the Boks not winning all their matches, there were improved performances by some and standout ones by others.

Here are some of the winners/movers of the Bok squad:

Kurt-Lee Arendse

Four tries in the four games don't even begin to state the kind of impact he's had from a tactical shift perspective.

There's an element to his ball-in-hand approach that's made defences second guess what he's going to do.

What he did to Marcus Smith in the England game has long been his trademark, but he displayed it in the glorious rugby bowl that is Twickenham.

His form has necessitated a personnel shift in the back three that can only be beneficial for the Boks in the medium to long term.

Damian Willemse

Doubts may remain over his goalkicking, but there's no such confusion over his game management and outfield play.

He's not the quintessential Springbok 10 who provides control with the boot, but poses so many questions from a tactical perspective. He's an all-round threat that can't be quelled once his confidence hits high notes.

He started the tour slowly in the Ireland game, but once he found his stride in the France Test, he's been superb.

Willie le Roux

Le Roux was caught short with his defence in the Argentina game at Kings Park, with the missed tackle in the 24 September game leading to an outcry about his defence.

He wasn't called upon to expand on his defensive frailties but was an absolute marvel for the Boks on attack as a supplementary flyhalf, especially in broken play.

At the age of 33, all the Boks need of him is to wrap up this form and take it with him to 2023 and the World Cup.

He was immense.

Franco Mostert. (Photo by Matt Roberts/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Kwagga Smith
Kwagga Smith made a significant impact when he replaced Jasper Wiese. (Photo by Gordon Arons/Gallo Images)
Gallo Images
Springbok flyhalf Damian Willemse
Springbok flyhalf Damian Willemse.
News24 Gallo/Getty Images
Springbok wing Kurt-Lee Arendse scores a try again
Springbok wing Kurt-Lee Arendse scores a try against England.
News24 Gallo Images
Springboks Damian Willemse and Willie le Roux
Springboks Damian Willemse and Willie le Roux.
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Springbok prop Thomas du Toit seeing red against E
Springbok prop Thomas du Toit seeing red against England.
News24 Gallo/Getty Images

Franco Mostert

What you see with 'Sous' is what you get. He's an unyielding and untiring utility with a tank that refuses to empty.

He doubly ensured the injury and suspension-enforced absences of Lood de Jager and Pieter-Steph du Toit weren't felt.

There's a reason why Springbok captain Siya Kolisi not only held his hand in the lead-up to the team photo ahead of the England game but wiped the blood off his face during the game.

He's a much-valued player in the Bok team and showed this on the tour.

Kwagga Smith

Smith has always been an excellent player, but with the asterisk of his size and core loose-forward position.

He showed himself to be an action man who can fit in anywhere the Boks needed him. The Boks' first-choice loose trio is clear, but Smith is their classy joker in the pack who did everything and more that was asked of him.

Evan Roos

Roos only got two games and it was the second one against England where he got the better of Billy Vunipola where he scored his marks.

He may have been in a contest with Elrigh Louw, but with a bruising performance at Twickenham, he may have placed himself in the inside lane.

... and the losers

However, some losers may not have been part of the squad, but the performances of incumbents have put pressure on them.

Pieter-Steph du Toit

There's an over-eagerness to Du Toit's game that's concerning. He's doing all the right things from a playing perspective, but has seemed to carry a nervous energy that's made his game unnecessarily fraught.

He'll remain SA's number one number seven, but Mostert's sterling work means SA can definitely live without him.

Thomas du Toit

Du Toit has slipped down the prop pecking order significantly and the red card he conceded against England didn't come at the best time.

He's far behind Frans Malherbe and Vincent Koch at tighthead, and by not possessing Trevor Nyakane's dual prop skills, he needed to impress more in this regard.

He didn't give himself a chance to do so with the red card and with no Test rugby until July next year, Du Toit may have shot his only Test bolt.

S'bu Nkosi

Nkosi was pencilled into the Bok squad, but with Arendse and Moodie in mean form, Nkosi may be in some trouble.

With the form displayed by the Bok back three through the Tests, it's hard to see where Nkosi was going to get a chance.

Even at the Bulls, he may struggle as the adaptability of Moodie and Arendse means he has to battle with Wandi Simelane at wing.


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