Mavs on the move ! Rondebosch’s Craven Week right wing Mike Mavovana bursts
through the SACS defence earlier this year, leaving provincial team-mate
Liam Larkan (right) in his wake. (photo: Robert Gad)
The WP Schools rugby selectors’ task must be one of the least demanding in the world: a wealth of talent of all races comes neatly packaged in the form of the WP Premier A league.
Well, it should be, but that doesn’t stop them from springing the occasional surprise inclusion from the lower strata, possibly with a view to encourage the youngsters to keep playing, but more likely to keep the voters satisfied for when it comes to election time.
This year, to their credit, they have not seen fit to fix what isn’t broken – which isn’t that surprising given that they have three 2015 SA Schools and one SA A cap around which to construct this year’s juggernaut – only giving the nod to one player from outside the big league.
The inclusion of eight of the for so long unbeaten Boishaai side merely reinforces the belief that very little can stand in the way of this side’s success, with many of these youngsters destined to become stars on the national stage in the not too distant future.
15. Gianni Lombard (Paarl Boys’ High). The next in a seemingly endless line of classy full-backs – bear in mind Jeanluc Cilliers’ 223 points last season and Pukke full-back Rhyno Smith’s stunning displays this year – Lombard’s ability to attack from the back, along with his efficient marshalling of the defence and sublime kicking off the tee (215 points already this campaign) and prodigious touchfinders have established him as a stunning prospect.
14. Mike Mavovana (Rondebosch). A 2015 WP Academy Week cap, Mike Mavs is no slouch. Just ask the athletics master at Rondebosch. Exchanging spikes for rugby boots doesn’t slow him down either; he just gets more chance to show off his sidestep !. His ten tries last year pale into insignificance when compared to 2016’s eighteen and counting.
13. Manny Rass (Paarl Boys’ High). Pretty well everything that can be said about this SA Schools player has already been said. Repeatedly. His line-breaking skills coupled with as effective an off-load as one will see anywhere make him every local supporter’s hero and the bane of opposing defences. What a treat it will be to see him playing with speedsters like Mavovana and Du Plessis outside him !
12. Henlo Marais (Boland Landbou). Now that the Boland Landbou backline has finally settled into in its optimal combination, Marais has blossomed, scoring nine breathtaking tries at inside or outside centre. His blistering acceleration on the break and keen peripheral vision make him the ideal midfield partner for Rass.
11. Muller du Plessis (Paarl Gym). As fast as, if not faster than, Mavovana, Du Plessis, a Grade 11 learner, is set to thrill the spectators for the next two years. His piston-like running style makes him very difficult to bring down once he gets into his stride. Although the Gym backline has been responsible for around forty tries, several of his six will remain long in the memory for the sheer audaciousness with which he runs from anywhere on the field.
10. Damian Willemse (Paul Roos). Another 2015 SA Schools cap, Vermeulen hasn’t been in quite the same brilliant form as last year, but should feel greatly relieved knowing that he will not be burdened with the kicking role. This freedom to express himself on attack with his bewildering side-stepping should ensure that the outside backs get top quality possession.
9. Vusile Dlepu(SACS). A bold choice, Dlepu has disproved his nickname “Lucky” every time he has taken the field this year. An impressive performer at last year’s Grant Khomo Week, he will provide a much-needed thread of continuity between the 2016 and 2017 teams. Not that he doesn’t already have the speed, pass and ability to read situations well that mark him as a special player.
8. Khanya Ncusane (Paarl Boys’ High). Last year Ncusane ghosted his way through and around so many defences that many of his opponents could have been forgiven for not knowing who he was when he got his SA A cap. Now they do, the only problem being that he is taller, stronger and even more confident around the paddock. Only seven tries this season ? Merely an illustration of how unselfish this exceptional prospect is.
7. Muller Uys (Paarl Gym). Although he normally operates from the back of the scrum, Uys’ s versatility was already evident in 2015 when he had no difficulty interchanging positions with lock MJ Hayes. After spending a frustratingly long spell on the sidelines last campaign, he has made up for lost time with a string of rampaging performances, his speed often catching opponents off-guard.
6. Charl Serdyn (Paarl Boys’ High). Very much one of the unsung heroes in the Boishaai machine of the last two years, Serdyn represented the province at the Academy Week last year to such good effect that his selection for this year’s flagship team comes as no surprise. A very hard grafter who should free up Ncusame and Uys to do their thing.
5. Salmaan Moerat (Paarl Boys’ High) (captain). Already a feared opponent when he locked the SA Schools scrum a year ago with the outstanding Ruben de Villiers, Moerat has imbued his Boishaai team with a sense of calm by querying decisions respectfully and conveying the results clearly to his team-mates. This cool, no-fuss acceptance of the leadership role has contributed vastly to Boishaai’s success and should do likewise for the province’s flagship team in July.
4. Ben-Jason Dixon (Paul Roos). The vice-captain of Paul Roos, Dixon has been in charge of getting the best out of a pack which is light by the Young Maties’ usual standards. He makes up for his lack of bulk with a stunning work-rate and excellent line-out skills. However, his size does count in his favour when it comes to his acceleration away from tight phases almost in the manner of a flank.
3. Adam Neethling (Paarl Boys’ High). Boishaai does not have a name for fielding 78 pound weaklings anywhere in their sides and absolutely never in the Craven Week prop position, which is almost annually reserved for their players. But there is much more to this walking wall of muscle: he is a very valuable member of the school’s Cantare vocal ensemble. Could we have another Toks van der Linde in the making ?
2. Daniel Jooste (Paarl Boys’ High). When you consider just how immovable the Brug Street scrum has been this season, the inclusion of their hooker in the middle of the front row is an absolute no-brainer. Also a terrier in the loose and never one to shirk a tackle. And that’s not even mentioning the lightning striking foot in the scrums.
1. André Booysen (Paarl Gym). Has impressed from the very start with his powerful shoulderwork and keen eye for a gap when in possession. Gave notice of his attacking inclination with two storming tries in the season-opener against HTS Drostdy, since which time closer surveillance has frustratingly deprived him of further scoring opportunities.
16. Liam Larkan (SACS). A multi-talented one-man wrecking crew, Larkan has been one of the most consistent performers anywhere in the WP Premier A division over the last two seasons. Originally a hooker – in which position he has been selected here – he has spent most of his time on the flank, where his effective attacking ruck-and-roll style has contributed twenty tries to the Young Ikeys’ in the last sixteen months.
17. Reece Bezuidenhout (Paarl Boys’ High). A 1st XV regular over the last two seasons, Bezuidenhout revels in the rough-and-tumble exchanges of the tight-loose, where he has proven his worth as a reliable source of possession time and again.
18. Tristan Leitch (Paul Roos). Although he might not bring quite as much bulk to the table as Booysen or Neethling, Leitch has been a vital stabilizing factor in a small, but pugnacious Maroons’ pack. His low centre of gravity makes him a formidable opponent in the scrum.
19. Jesse Johnson (Paul Roos). Ensured his selection with a string of top-class performances for his school. Playing as he does in a rather small pack, his value has shone through in loose play where he is a dangerous first carrier around rucks and mauls. His slight build makes him that much more valuable as a go-to man at line-outs.
20. Athi Magwala (Boland Landbou). Magwala comes with a stellar CV – captain of the WP Grant Khomo team in 2015 and an Academy Week cap last year, but has struggled to realize his full worth in the Farmers’ 1st XV. Despite having been used at hooker at one stage, his bullocking charges this year have ensured his place on the side of the scrum.
21. Deon Carstens (Boland Landbou). The only factor preventing his emergence as one of the top local scrumhalves last season was the presence in the Farmers’ set-up of SA Schools no.9 Jondré Williams, whom Carstens significantly supplanted in July last year. Has a quick, reliable pass and excellent kicking skills, both into the pocket and off the tee.
22. Lubelo Scott (Bishops). A sound 2015 Academy Week probably proved the decisive factor in Scott’s selection. Is at his happiest when running at defences and exploiting the gaps he creates with footwork that is deceptively elusive for a lad his size.
23. Quan Eymann (Brackenfell). A new arrival on the local scene this year, Eymann has grabbed a large portion of the Premier B headlines at flyhalf for the Brakke. Secured the selectors’ nod with excellent displays in the recent four-union weekend in the south-western Cape.
All things considered, this promises to be one of the most potent teams Western Province has fielded for some time. Don’t miss them on DSTV when they start their week against Boland on Monday 11 July.