It’s been 12 years since the British & Irish Lions have toured South Africa, and with the Series set to go ahead, the debate of who should make the Springbok cut has begun. So, we’ve rounded up 5 players who we think deserve a spot to take on Warren Gatland’s Lions this July and August:
Elton Jantjies has been a stalwart of South African rugby for years, and deserves his shot at the British & Irish Lions this season. The 30-year-old has been performing excellently when he’s had his opportunity with the Boks, whether it be off the bench to close out a game, or starting in order to provide a more attacking strategy (such was the case against Canada in the 2019 World Cup). Jantjies’ combo of calm and collected control mixed with moments of flair and brilliance make him an unpredictable threat to the Lions, which is something the Springboks will need in order to surprise Warren Gatland’s studious approach.
Damian de Allende
Damian de Allende’s rise to one of the world’s best centres hasn’t come without its criticisms, but it’s only made him a better player. Now one of Munster’s standout stars, the former Stormers centre will be an invaluable threat in the midfield for South Africa, bringing the physicality needed to gain metres and stop incoming runs, which the Lions will surely deliver. But de Allende also offers more, recently showing his footwork and defender-beating antics of yesteryear that, if incorporated into his game against the Lions, will be a lot for them to handle.
Faf de Klerk
South Africa has no shortage of exciting scrumhalves, with Cobus Reinach and Herchel Jantjies waiting in the wings, but having the Sale Sharks’ key man back in the Bok jersey is a no-brainer. After his stellar World Cup campaign and ongoing form in Europe, Faf de Klerk offers a lot more than his counterparts, delivering fantastic defence, pinpoint kicking accuracy, and a speed in and around the breakdown that is unmatched. De Klerk will inject a large dose of pace and intensity that any world-class side will struggle to contain.
While only recently back from injury, Etzebeth looks to be in physically-dominating form once again for Toulon. The giant lock is and has been South Africa’s enforcer for quite some time, and his sheer brutality when ball-carrying and ferociousness on defence is a must-have factor in the Boks’ arsenal if they’re to unwind the Lions.
Gqoboka has been in and out of the Springbok squad over the years, and hasn’t managed to rack up too many caps, but the Bulls front-rower has been in immense form for the Pretoria side in this year’s Super Rugby and Rainbow Cup, and has made a huge impact in any play he’s involved in. The 31-year-old has developed in a sublime scrummager, and could be a great asset in the Bok forwards to pack down against an inevitably-tough Lions tight-five.