EVERY year the Super 15 unearths some future stars and 2013 won’t be any exception. But this season, several of the brightest in South Africa are young black players. We look at five who could make Springbok honours later in the year.
Siya Kolisi (flank, Stormers) 21
Kolisi, who hails from the Eastern Cape, made a name for himself at Super 15 level after a superb campaign for the Stormers last year.
He was on the brink of being selected for the Springboks before injury ended his season and cost him a Test cap. But he’s back , stronger and hungrier than last season and if his form in the Stormers’ warm-up game against Boland is an indication – he scored three tries – he’s in for another big campaign.
Last year Kolisi was thrust into the Stormers starting lineup after the first game when Schalk Burger injured his knee, and he has never looked back. He can play in all three loose-forward positions, is a brutal defender and a strong ball carrier.
Bongi Mbonambi (hooker, Bulls) 22
The former Junior Springbok completed his schooling at St Albans in Pretoria, just a few kilometres from Loftus Versfeld, where he is quickly gaining a good reputation. Robust, strong in the tackle and good in the tight phases, Mbonambi caught the eye during last year’s Currie Cup campaign and will have a chance to add to his two Super rugby caps this year, although initially his chances could be limited. He starts the season as the Bulls’ third choice hooker behind Springbok Chiliboy Ralepelle and veteran Willie Wepener.
But in a tournament where injuries are frequent , it’s only a matter of time before Mbonambi earns a chance to shine on the big stage.
Lubalalo (Tera) Mtembu (loose-forward, Sharks) 22
The former Dale College pupil has come through the ranks of the Sharks Academy and was one of the form players during the pre-season for coach John Plumtree’s team. Mtembu is a strong ball carrier and good operator at the breakdown, where his ability to poach and slow opposition ball is one of his strengths. At 1.87m and weighing around 100kg, he’s not a big man in a game of increasingly big men, but his pace and combativeness ensure he isn’t overwhelmed.
With Sharks captain Keegan Daniel suffering an injury that is likely to keep him out of the first six weeks of the tournament, Mtembu should see some game time.
Siyabonga (Scarra) Ntubeni (hooker, Stormers) 22
Scarra became a cult hero at Newlands during last year’s successful Currie Cup campaign for Western Province with his powerful surges with ball in hand, strong tackling and excellent setpiece work .
The product of KES in Johannesburg shares a house with Siya Kolisi and they clearly inspire each other . Sadly, a knee injury in a freak training ground accident in January has ruled him out of the first part of the campaign. He should be ready to play by week seven, meaning he will be in the mix when the tournament heads into the business end, which is great news for the Stormers.
Raymond Rhule (wing, Cheetahs) 21
Rhule is already a Springbok, having toured Ireland and Britain last November after a superb Currie Cup campaign that saw him finish as leading try-scorer, scoring eight tries. The Ghanaian-born flyer, who moved to SA when he was six, is arguably the fastest man in the tournament. He used his pace and silky running to devastating effect for the Cheetahs last year and played a vital role for the Junior Springboks when they won the 2012 world championships on home soil last season.