Super players to watch
OPINION: As we near the start of the highly anticipated Super Rugby season, the #RugbyLateTackle team identifies South African players who they feel will make a big impact for their franchise.
The South African conference gets the competition underway as the Stormers host the Jaguares and the Sharks travel up to Johannesburg to take on the Lions.
Here's who they feel are players to watch!
Young Lions scrumhalf Marco Janse van Vuuren has been tipped to produce the goods this season by Anton van Zyl, should he get the opportunity to test himself against the Southern Hemisphere's best.
The 21-year-old has risen through the Lions' ranks to earn himself a spot in the Johannesburg franchise's squad but we will have to wait a little longer to see him in action as he will not be in action against the Sharks in the opening round.
"I am hoping Marco Janse van Vuuren will get a lot of game time. I think he has a lot to offer, there is something very distinct about him," Van Zyl said.
It is no secret that there is a strong connection between the #RugbyLateTeam team as both Van Zyl and Morgan Newman enjoyed a few seasons in the Cape Town-based franchise's jersey.
Both Newman and Van Zyl picked two players.
"I would like to see Damian Willemse take the bull by the horns. I have played with JJ Engelbrecht and I see massive x-factor in this guy. If he is backed and put in a position where he is comfortable, and he can play to his potential, I think he can unlock a lot of defences," Newman said.
Van Zyl, unsurprisingly, took the nepotism route - even if the comment was a bit tongue-in-cheek.
"I am tipping [Chris] Pickle van Zyl to shine but if I take the nepotism out of it, I would love to see something big and special from Nizaam Carr. He finished the Currie Cup outstandingly, he had a great time with Wasps and I can imagine his confidence is sky high. I'd love to see him come into his own and I think Super Rugby is made for players like him," Van Zyl added.
The Sharks have somewhat flown under the radar but have managed to acquire the services of some key players who have added much-needed depth to key areas in their squad.
"I see massive depth in key positions. [They signed] Leolin Zass, they have Garth April, Curwin Bosch. They have young, exuberant, exciting players. I think there is a lot of room for a lot of players to shine there," Newman stated.
The Pretoria-based franchise got mixed reactions, as Newman feels they do not have enough quality in their squad to win the competition.
"There doesn't seem to be enough quality in the squad to win Super Rugby. I hope the Bulls prove me wrong," he said.
Even though Van Zyl agreed with him on the point of them not winning the competition, he stated that they would surprise a few people along the way.
With that said, Newman is expecting big things from Warrick Gelant and No.8 Nic de Jager. Van Zyl is tipping Embrose Papier while host, Howie Kahn, feels that the Bulls possess an exciting fetcher in their ranks.
"The guy I would like to see come through if he stays injury free is Roelof Smit. I think he is like a Francois Louw hybrid fetcher," Kahn said.
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