Could Springboks back unexpected overseas star at No 8?

The Springboks head towards the 2024 Test season with a lengthy injury list, while there is also a massive decision that will need to be made at No 8.

With Duane Vermeulen having retired after last year’s World Cup, Jasper Wiese was the obvious successor However, he was involved in a nasty incident during the English Premiership this past weekend, which saw him receive a red card for a dangerous act of foul play.

His subsequent six-game ban will see him will miss the following the Springboks’ mid-year Tests against Wales, Ireland (two games) and Portugal. The burly No 8 will also miss the first two Rugby Championship fixtures against the Wallabies in Australia.

After all of that missed action, he may not automatically come back into the team, especially if there is another player who makes a big impression.

So who could that be?

Perhaps the safest bet will see Kwagga Smith deployed slightly out of position at No 8, but there are no shortage of other options.

There is Evan Roos, Elrigh Louw and even young Cameron Hanekom, who would probably be a popular choice. Lions star Francke Horn or Sale Sharks stalwart Jean-Luc du Preez could be other left-field considerations.

However, overseas-based Juarno Augustus could quite possibly be a ‘bolter’ who is starting to come onto the national radar.

The powerful loose forward has truly revived his career at the Northampton Saints, helping lead the club to the top of the English Premiership.

Currently in top form, there is no doubt that Augustus could offer a dynamic, physical, ball-carrying addition to the Springboks’ rich back-row resources.

“If I can be the best player I can be, I think I can get a foot in the door,” said Augustus in a recent interview with Planet Rugby. “But I have had no chats with the (South Africa) coaches. It’s about letting my rugby do the talking for me.”

The 26-year-old won’t be available for the clash against Wales, but will be against Ireland and in the Rugby Championship. As someone who is more in the physical mould of Wiese and Vermeulen, it may just be the right time to unleash the man known as ‘Trokkie’.

THE SPRINGBOKS WILL SOON BE IN ACTION

As a reminder, the Springboks will start their 2024 season against Wales, and here is a look at the full 13 confirmed fixtures.

2024 FIXTURES:

Saturday, 22 June: SA vs Wales (Twickenham, London)
Saturday, 6 July: SA vs Ireland (Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria)
Saturday, 13 July: SA vs Ireland (Hollywoodbets Kings Park, Durban)
Saturday, 20 July: SA vs Portugal (Toyota Stadium, Bloemfontein)

Saturday, 10 August: Australia vs SA (Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane)
Saturday, 17 August: Australia vs SA (Optus Stadium, Perth)
Saturday, 31 August: SA vs New Zealand (Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg)
Saturday, 7 September: SA v New Zealand (DHL Stadium, Cape Town)
Saturday, 21 September: Argentina v SA (Estadio Unico Madre de Ciudades, Santiago)
Saturday, 28 September: SA v Argentina (Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit)

Sunday, 10 November: Scotland vs SA (Murrayfield, Edinburgh)
Saturday, 16 November: England vs SA (Twickenham, London)
Saturday, 23 November: Wales vs SA (Principality Stadium, Cardiff)