Bismarck du Plessis’ neck injury may have hogged the headlines this weekend, but the Springbok could face a potential wing crisis after the injury list doubled with Jongi Nokwe’s injury.
Brenden Nel – Sport24
Nokwe, who scored a try and was dangerous throughout in the Cheetahs 36-32 victory over the Blues in Bloemfontein on Saturday, broke his jaw in the clash and is likely to miss the international winter season as well.
With coach Peter de Villiers likely to rest several of the Bulls and Stormers players for the Tests against France and Wales, Nokwe would have had an ideal opportunity to cement a place ahead of next year’s World Cup for the Boks.
But the injury, which is likely to see him only return in the Absa Currie Cup competition will mean a new spot opens up on the wing, especially if Bryan Habana is to be rested.
The selection poser could turn into a major headache after JP Pietersen’s knee injury last week left De Villiers with one less player to choose. Sharks coach John Plumtree has indicated that Pietersen will miss the rest of the Super 14, and it is unsure whether he will return in time for the international season.
Add to this the injuries to Akona Ndungane (broken leg) and Lionel Mapoe (Shoulder) and the injury list starts to look very long in the speedster stakes.
Bulls’ winger Gerhard van den Heever is the leading try-scorer in the Super 14 and deserves a chance to show his promise at international level, while young Michael Killian has also shown flashes of brilliance on the wing.
Odwa Ndungane has the inside track with De Villiers selecting him last year on tour and Francois Hougaard’s versatility also makes him a good option in the long run.
But other than this, the options are few for De Villiers, who will be hoping that no more of his Springbok players are injured in the final weeks of the competition.
The other option is impressive young Wandile Mjekevu, who was recently sent to the Springbok Sevens team to round off his skills in the shortened game. But, chances are he will be given chance to continue his development unhindered.
De Villiers has already said he was not keen to use any Bulls or Stormers players if they make the semi-finals of the Super 14. But the injury list may force him to change his thinking…