The timing is right to introduce Curwin Bosch to the Springbok setup, but his on-field role is likely to be limited in the Rugby Championship, writes CRAIG LEWIS.
Bosch is one of the brightest young prospects on the South African rugby horizon. Of that there is no doubt, but expectations must be managed at this early stage of his career.
The 20-year-old was the single somewhat surprise inclusion in the Bok squad for the start of the Rugby Championship, but it’s a clear sign of understandable national investment in a rare talent.
For much of the Super Rugby season, Bosch was one of the top performers as he stepped seamlessly into the flyhalf role at the Sharks in the absence of the injured Pat Lambie.
It quickly heightened calls for the youngster to be added to the Bok squad for the three-Test series against France in June, but in the end, he spent that time with the Junior Boks at the U20 World Rugby Championship.
After returning to the Sharks, Bosch starred in their quarter-final clash against the Lions, and Bok coach Allister Coetzee has now clearly seen the need to bring the talented utility back into the national setup, sooner rather than later.
In all likelihood, Bosch will serve to provide backup at flyhalf and fullback in the Rugby Championship, but it’s his time gaining experience in the Bok camp that may well be of more importance than any on-field involvement.
It’s here that he needs to absorb as many lessons as possible in a Bok environment that has shown clear signs of significant improvement during the June series.
The time spent with experienced attack coach Franco Smith can only serve him well, while consultant Brendan Venter is sure to have highly valuable input to impart.
The statistics show that Bosch ‘boasted’ a tackle percentage of just over 60% in the Super Rugby season, and it’s on defence that the youngster clearly needs to improve his game.
While working closely with Venter on this aspect of his play, it will also be extremely beneficial for Bosch to have his future role clearly mapped out by the Springbok management team.
Bosch has mentioned that he would like to settle at flyhalf eventually, but he has also proven to be highly effective at fullback. In this regard, Coetzee needs to spend time discussing where he and incoming director of rugby Rassie Erasmus see his future at Bok level.
Ultimately, it’s too soon to expect Bosch to have a frontline role to play for the Boks, but he will add useful utility value – especially in the absence of Frans Steyn – while this is also only the start of his national involvement.
Just as Bosch’s callup should be welcomed, so the supremely talented Warrick Gelant is fully deserving of his callup, while young Dan du Preez is the obvious inclusion in light of Warren Whiteley’s continued injury woes.
However, it’s a massive surprise to see that Ruan Combrinck hasn’t done enough to earn a recall, while Lukhanyo Am can certainly count himself unlucky to miss out. The exclusion of Ruan Dreyer should also be questioned, as Trevor Nyakane continues in his role as a utility prop instead.
Otherwise, there can be few complaints about a squad that sees Du Preez, Gelant, Trevor Nyakane, Uzair Cassiem and Handré Pollard named as the only players in the squad that were not part of the Boks’ 3-0 Test series win over France.