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Five uncapped players with big futures.

10 April 2019, by: Quintin van Jaarsveld


The conclusion of the Rugby World Cup usually signals the end of an era. Some Springbok stalwarts usually ride into the sunset, while others head abroad for a lucrative swansong.


A mass player exodus, one feared will be more crippling than ever before, looms at the end of the season as South African rugby continues to lose top talent to big-spending overseas clubs. 2020 is therefore set to bring about the dawn of the next generation of South African rugby stars.

Exciting young players like Embrose Papier and Damian Willemse have already entered the Test arena and look poised to form part of the Bok fabric for years to come. For this list, we’ve focused on young, uncapped players who have the makings of breakout stars.

The 23-year-old second rower was simply sensational for the Stormers before he suffered an AC joint injury in the Round Five clash with the Hurricanes in Wellington.

It’s a cruel blow for a rising star who’s been cursed with serious injury throughout his promising career. His story is one of divine intervention and incredible will as he broke his neck while playing for the Western Province Under-21 team against the Blue Bulls at Loftus Versfeld on 30 August 2014.

Schickerling broke his C5/6 vertebrae in a collision with Bulls lock Irne Herbst and was two millimetres away from being a quadriplegic. A neck fusion and 16 miserable months of rehab followed.

The former Baby Bok made a remarkable recovery that saw him make his Stormers debut and feature for the South African “A” team against the England Saxons in 2016.

He missed much of 2018 through injury but returned with a vengeance once again to earn a place in the Bok end-of-year squad. A maiden Test cap eluded Schickerling on the tour of France and the UK and he started the 2019 season with a burning desire to stay in the Bok mix.

Prior to his latest injury setback, Schickerling formed a fierce lock pairing with Eben Etzebeth. He was a tower of strength in the lineouts, a physical force around the park and exhibited an exceptional workrate, which included consistent double-digit match tackle stats.

A few crane-like turnovers on the ground also showed he brings more than mass and muscle to the table. If he’s able to stay healthy, he’ll be a big asset for Bok rugby.

The 21-year-old has had limited game time in the talent-rich Stormers back row, where Springbok captain Siya Kolisi and fellow Test titans Pieter-Steph du Toit and Sikhumbuzo Notshe form an established force and Jaco Coetzee and Kobus van Dyk have impressed.

“Trokkie”, as he’s fondly known, is a wrecking ball and has maximised the minutes he’s been afforded so far. There’s no disputing Augustus’ class; he was monumental for the Baby Boks prior to his graduation to the Super Rugby ranks and was crowned World Rugby Junior Player of the Year in 2017.

Big, strong and athletic, he’ll get his chance to shine as and when the Boks are rested.

It’s still early days, with Jantjies only having a handful of Super Rugby caps to his name, but man has he made an impression! A nippy scrumhalf with an eye for a gap, he made an immediate impact when he came off the bench and scored a match-winning try against the Lions in Round Two.

He’s looked at home ever since, playing with confidence and maturity well beyond his 22 years. A product of Paul Roos Gymnasium, Jantjies had a short stint at Scarlets at the end of 2017, winning one cap for the Welsh club before returning to Cape Town.

With Faf de Klerk as Bok incumbent and Bulls duo Embrose Papier and Ivan van Zyl for back-up, along with the likes of Cobus Reinach and Louis Schreuder as injury cover, Jantjies won’t be in the World Cup mix, but he’s certainly a player for the future.

The Lions centre announced himself on the Super Rugby stage in spectacular fashion with a Man of the Match performance against the Jaguares in Round Five.

The 21-year-old showcased all the skills that made him the 2018 Junior Springbok Player of the Year against the Argentinians, and it’s only a matter of time before he makes him Bok debut.

The 21-year-old showcased all the skills that made him the 2018 Junior Springbok Player of the Year against the Argentinians, and it’s only a matter of time before he makes him Bok debut.

There’s no reason to fast-track him into the senior set-up. As a creative ball player with excellent footwork and offloading abilities, he brings X-factor to the midfield and can be seen as a possible stand-in for the similarly-skilled Lukhanyo Am, should the need arise.

Also comfortable on the wing, one can expect big things from the uber-talented Simelane.

If you’re looking for out-and-out, God-given pace, then look no further than the Sharks’ new speeding bullet.

Fassi chasing down Aphiwe Dyantyi like a lion hunting a gazelle during last year’s Currie Cup semi-final in Durban was one of the most awe-inspiring sprints in recent memory, and on attack, he has the ability to create something out of nothing on top of being a born finisher.

Equally adept at wing and fullback, the 21-year-old’s mostly operated at No. 15 in what’s his rookie Super Rugby season so far. He’s been brave under the high ball and lethal in limited space and opportunity.

Sharks teammate Sbu Nkosi said of Fassi ahead of last year’s Currie Cup final: “He has more talent in his left toe than I’ve got in my whole body”… high praise from the Bok speedster, which further stresses just what an exciting talent Fassi is.

At 1.89m and 86kg, he has a wingspan that comes in handy on defence and when it comes to finishing off tries. Barely into his 20s, he’s only going to get bigger and better.

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Quintin Van Jaarsveld is a former MDDA-Sanlam SA Local Sports Journalist of the Year and a former three-time Vodacom KwaZulu-Natal Sports Journalist of the Year. Formerly the sports editor and Outstanding Journalist of the Year award winner at The Fever Media Group, deputy editor at eHowzit, editor at and senior staff writer at, he boasts over 15 years’ experience and is currently a freelance sports writer.

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