Canan Moodie staked his claim for a place in the World Cup squad with a polished performance in the Springboks’ 24-13 win over Argentina in Buenos Aires on Saturday, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.
Trailing 10-3 at halftime, the experimental South African side turned the tables in the second stanza with a double strike shortly after the interval setting up victory for the Webb Ellis Cup holders in their first of three World Cup warm-up matches.
Our top three Springbok standouts were:
The Springbok coaches used the clash at Velez Sarsfield as a last opportunity for fringe players to push for places in the World Cup squad that’s set to be announced on Tuesday and no one made a stronger case than Man of the Match Moodie.
Bulls director of rugby Jake White, in discovering the blue-chipper, proclaimed he’d go on to play 100 Tests for the Springboks and it didn’t take long for him to make his international bow, becoming the second-youngest Bok in the professional era at just 19 and enjoying a dream debut that included a magical try against the Wallabies in Sydney last year.
He showed why he’s so highly rated against the Pumas, playing with poise well beyond his years. He’s a prodigious talent in that he’s not just a great athlete with size, a strike runner, intelligent player, hard worker, aerial artist or strong defender but all of these rolled into one.
The all-around performance he produced was more impressive and did more for his future than a flashy hat-trick would have. From his first touch, which saw him beat Santiago Cordero with his fast feet and fend off Lucio Cinti, Moodie was magnificent.
His attacking exploits saw him collect a pinpoint crosskick from Manie Libbok to score a slick try, make three clean breaks, beat four defenders and run for 113 metres. On the defensive end, he made excellent reads, including an intercept and a thumping tackle on Martin Bogado that led to a penalty for the Boks, as well as a full-body diving effort on Emiliano Boffelli that resulted in a turnover.
The young star brings balance to the back three with his size and if Rassie Erasmus and Jacques Nienaber were in two minds over whether to take him to the World Cup, Moodie surely made their decision easier with his timely top-notch outing.
Kleyn went big, stamping his authority early on with a great first carry and stayed in the thick of the action for the full 80 minutes.
It was a glowing display of the former Irish international’s muscle and motor as he relentlessly charged at the Pumas and dominated collisions. The psyched-up second-rower led the Boks with 13 carries and impressed with his ability to make metres post-contact, pumping his legs and consistently requiring two men to take him down.
He almost scored his first try for his country of birth in the 28th minute, denied by determined defence and clever tackle technique as he was held up over the line, and showed some good hands to grab Vincent Koch’s offload in the 76th minute. It probably wasn’t enough to force his way into the World Cup squad but it was a performance to be proud of nonetheless.
Jean-Luc du Preez
Du Preez had waited five years to add to his 13 Test caps and made up for lost time with a dynamic super-sub showing.
He injected great power, explosiveness and intensity off the bench, showcased his athleticism and seized two important turnovers, the first on his 5m line.
It’s a long shot, but with Marvin Orie and Franco Mostert both having bad nights at the office, the versatile Du Preez gave the Bok coaches something to think about.