SOME PLAYERS GUARANTEED TO GET THE PULSES RACING IN 2015
Under pressure ! Dillon Feast (second from right) and Wian von Wielligh (right) man the
pumps for Hugenote against Swartland at Interschools 2014. (photo: Lucia Duvenhage)
It has become my habit of starting the school year with an overview of all the local top flight 1st XV players who will be hastening our heartbeats.
However, the wait has just become too long, so, with the approval and – in the case of two or three players – the assistance of a few close confidants, here’s a list of some of the most exciting players you can look forward to watching, come autumn 2015.
This should in no way be seen as an attempt to promote the interests of any players with an eye to WP (or, in a few cases, Boland) Craven Week colours, even though you will notice that the list does exclude players who will be celebrating their nineteenth birthdays in 2015. In other words, the sole criterion for appearing here is that the player has shown huge promise.
Rather than just spew out a number of players at random, I have arranged them in the positions they are likely to fill (or, in one or two cases, in a position I’d like to see them fill).
Read ‘em and weep, you other provinces………….
Tristan Leyds (full-back – Bishops). Tiny he may be, but that just serves to enhance Leyds’ ghost-like runs through mesmerized defences. While he may have a similar approach to the game to older brother Dillyn, his execution is arguably a notch or so higher.
Tyreeq February (wing – Paarl Boys’ High). Jet-foot February should become a household name in his own right in his senior year after completing his Brug Street apprenticeship. A lethal finisher, he is bound to be a firm crowd favourite.
Dillon Feast (wing – Hugenote). Easily recognized thanks to his blond hair and wiry frame, Feast’s scintillating speed off the mark and mazy running is embellished by his reliability as a goalkicker. Equally at home at full-back.
Ryan Muller (wing – Bellville). If the year spent adjusting to top-flight Under 19 rugby and learning to rein in his temper has been well utilized, Muller is set to turn many heads with his wonderful footwork, strong defence and intelligent reading of the game. Converted successfully from full-back to left wing.
Nico Leonard (wing – Paul Roos). Should need no introduction, given his destructive running in 2014. Provided that the service is up to the same standard, this lad is one of the WP’s best bets for higher honours come July. Actually at his most threatening at outside centre.
JT Potgieter (outside centre – Boland Landbou). A big, hard-running unit in 2014, Potgieter looks set to terrorize defences after six months of conditioning. A great finisher who is virtually unstoppable when he gets a whiff of the try-line.
Rayhann Lombaard (utility back – Paarl Boys’ High). A top quality utility back, just as happy at full-back or centre. In the mould of Smit below, he is more of a creator than a finisher. A great team man, he filled in anywhere in the backline, always more than capably.
Cornel Smit (possible flyhalf – Bishops). A stunning Academy Week plus a very high accuracy rate as Bishops’ first choice kicker were worthy returns for one of the best thinkers in the province at schoolboy level. Plays at centre, but might be a clever choice at 10, Mr Bayly. Those around him can look forward to judiciously filtered possession.
Jordan Chait (flyhalf – SACS). Not just a chip off the old block, this flyhalf’s burgeoning self-confidence and the increasing maturity shown in his decision-making provided one of the few highlights of an average season for the Young Ikeys. Would not disgrace any team.
Adriaan van der Bank (flyhalf – Worcester Gym). Rated by many as the most promising pivot anywhere down south. Boasts the full array of talents including drop-goals and immaculate grubbers. Oh, and I forgot, loads of time !
Jondré Williams (scrumhalf – Boland Landbou). Despite a very tough year, Mossel’s scrumhalf (flyhalf, if the need arises) endeavours bode well for the Farmers going forward. What he might lack in speed, he makes up for with his brilliant goalkicking and strength on his feet.
Wihan von Wielligh (scrumhalf – Hugenote). The fastest scrummie from a standing start that has ever crossed yours truly’s path, faster even than ex-Tyger TJ Goddard. His absence through injury for a large part of 2014 severely handicapped the Blackies, who quickly blossomed as soon as he returned.
Nic Potgieter (scrumhalf – Rondebosch). Your archetypal cheeky little no 9, capable of stealing your shoes off your feet while he is talking to you, Potgieter is expected to play a huge part in the anticipated renaissance of Bosch rugby in 2015, injuries notwithstanding.
Johan Visser (flank – Paarl Gym). Often passed over (by spectators, that is) because he is not as big as the Gimmies’ traditional heavy artillery. In case you need reminding, Visser captained the 2013 Grant Khomo side with distinction. 2015 could be the year in which he reprises that success.
Zain Davids (number 8/flank/outside centre – Rondebosch). An astonishing talent who almost beat Bishops by himself at the Piley Rees last August. His ungainly running style poses huge problems for would-be tacklers...and then there’s his deceptive turn of speed, too ! My personal most exciting prospect for 2015.
Benna van der Westhuizen (no. 8 – Piketberg). Even managed to stand out when playing alongside future Sharks Christie van der Merwe and Erich Kankowski. Van der Westhuizen has a literally staggering work-rate - it’s hard to believe he has enough left in the tank to make it off the field !
Ruben de Villers (lock – Paarl Boys’ High). One of the few WP successes at the 2014 Craven Week, De Villiers’ outstanding line-out work more than compensates for his lack of beef.
Salmaan Moerat (lock – Paarl Boys’ High). The next colossus from the Moerat clan, Salmaan is set to take the WP Premier A tier by storm. While his relationship to the huge Ayoob Moerat, who graced the New Orleans front row a few years ago is uncertain, his imposing size will inevitably lead to comparisons
Wikus Groenewald (loose-head/tight-head prop – Paarl Boys’ High). With a Craven Week campaign behind him, Groenewald is bound to be an integral part of WP’s cliff-face plans in 2015. A hard worker, equally adept at tight- or loose-head. Lots of bonus points for his smile and personality !
Marco Joubert (loose-head prop – Bellville). Came achingly close to representing WP last year at Avonwood Park, a huge personal disappointment one can only hope he has already consigned to the past.. As solid and dedicated a loose-head as one could wish for, Joubert was a regular try-scorer this year, albeit in the Premier B tier.
Athi Magwala (hooker – Boland Landbou). A stocky nugget of pure personality and relentless hard-work, Athi captained the 2014 Grant Khomo side from the side of the scrum. However, informed sources indicate that, under the guidance of new forward coach Deon Carstens, he might well be converted into what promises to be a formidable hooker.
Leo Kruger (tight-head prop – Paarl Boys’ High). Although some might consider him rather tall for a prop, Kruger’s mobility should earn him lots of new admirers. Having paid his dues through the ranks at Brug Street, he easily ticks enough boxes not to be written off as “just another Strepie prop”.
Carlu Sadie (tight-head prop – Bellville). This proverbial brick outbuilding of a prop has attracted enormous attention for his athleticism. Would definitely hold his own against more illustrious opposition than Premier B sides. Will be worth looking out for at the Oakdale and Wynberg festivals.
Here’s a suggestion. Seeing that the only one of the above who might conceivably fit into your Christmas stocking is young Leyds, make a list of these youngsters and tick them off as you manage to catch them in action. Hint : Worcester Gym and Piketberg will be at TSRF 2015; Huenote will be attending the Wynberg Rugby Festival.
My bet is that if you find yourself with a full bingo card, you will be vastly richer for the experience.
That’s it for 2014, everyone. May you enjoy a truly delightful and thoroughly restful festive season !