Durban – While the Springboks’ flyhalf crisis deepens, the curse on the right-wing berth has lifted, and both Kurt-Lee Arendse and Sbu Nkosi have been recalled to the squad for Saturday’s big Rugby Championship finale against Argentina in Durban.
The Boks first lost Cheslin Kolbe to a cheekbone fracture and then Arendse was suspended for an aerial clash with All Black Beauden Barrett, while Nkosi has been missing for almost a year because of a gastric intestinal virus, which was followed by an ankle injury.
Nkosi last played for the Boks in their 31-29 victory over the All Blacks in Queensland last October.
He has since switched from the Sharks to the Bulls, and made a solid United Rugby Championship debut for the Pretoria team last week against the Lions at Ellis Park.
It is unlikely that Nkosi is in the selection frame for Saturday’s game, and the probable reason for his recall to the squad is to reacquaint him with the Bok processes, with a view to utilising him on the November tour to Europe.
The big question is whether Arendse will slot back in or whether his replacement in the last two Bok games, Canan Moodie, will continue after impressive showings in Sydney and Buenos Aires.
I have a suspicion that Arendse will be recalled, but all will be revealed when the team is announced at 12pm today.
Reflecting on the recall of the wings, coach Jacques Nienaber said: “We have been pretty unlucky on the wing in the last few months in terms of injuries, which has forced our hand at giving players such as Kurt-Lee and Canan a chance at international level, and we are pleased with the depth we are now building as we get closer toward the Cup next year.
“Kurt-Lee had a great debut and played very well against the All Blacks, but he was unfortunately banned, and we are delighted to have him back as he’s a very talented player.
“Sbu has been in our system for several years now and he has recovered from injury, so we are excited to welcome him back. He has shown his class in several big matches, and he brings experience, so he will undoubtedly add great value to the squad.
“This also allows us an opportunity to take stock of the depth we have at wing, as we are now a year out from the Rugby Cup in France.”
Meanwhile, Frans Steyn is set to start at flyhalf at Kings Park after Damian Willemse was ruled out with concussion.
The loss of the in-form Willemse is a major blow, and it is the latest instalment of a sorry story regarding the Bok flyhalf position this year.
Before a ball had been kicked in anger, Johan Goosen dropped out of the plans with a serious knee injury and Handre Pollard suffered a knee injury in the Boks’ loss to Australia in Adelaide, while Elton Jantjies was sent home from Buenos Aires because of a personal issue.
Nienaber has decided not to recall Jantjies, and that leaves Frans Steyn as the only option.
The 35-year-old had an impressive cameo in the position after Willemse had to leave the field with 12 minutes to go in the Boks’ 36-20 defeat of the Pumas over the weekend, and it looks like he will continue in Durban where he left off in the Argentine capital.
Nienaber said a few weeks back that if necessary, Faf de Klerk will cover flyhalf as he played there at school, and on a few occasions for the Lions and Sale Sharks.