Has Kitshoff opened Pandora’s box?

Tank Lanning, in his Sport24 column, ponders the implications of selecting the impressive Steven Kitshoff in a position stocked with many players of colour, one of which could be an unnecessary swinger role for Trevor Nyakane.

Tank Lanning

In this rather slow week between what was a very engaging series against the Irish – even if for the wrong reasons – and getting back into Super Rugby, a week in which no one seems to give a toss about anything rugby related, I find myself pondering three things …

1 – Why should a team hand over possession because a player is simply held up in the tackle? It’s hardly a skill, seems to be leading to more injuries and is just slowing down the ball.

2 – How do we up our general rugby IQ so players think not only about their position, but the team and game in general? The Irish made much better general rugby decisions than the Boks. Coaching plays a huge role and I wonder if we are developing enough coaches who are good enough not only to coach, but question existing methods with a view to developing new ones?

3 – Prior to the June Internationals I called the then uncapped Steven Kitshoff’s selection “Weird”, but now also wonder if, in actually playing him in PE, Coetzee has perhaps opened a Pandora’s Box of sorts?

That he was deserving of his selection is not in doubt. In his meagre 24 minutes he made 2 carries, 10 tackles and totally destroyed the Irish scrum. Much like Faf de Klerk, it looked like he was born to play for the Boks.

But given our clear and obvious transformation goals, with Beast Mtawarira and Trevor Nyakane as established and competent Springbok loosehead props, Lizo Gqoboko on the rise having played for the SA ‘A’ side, and the likes of Allister Vermaak, Ox Nchu and Nqobisizwe Mxoli waiting in the wings, why introduce an uncapped white player from France?

Sure it was about getting him capped and thus unable to play for another country, but that would have come with commitments to future selections and game time.

Given how well he performed on Saturday, has Coetzee not just made his life a whole lot more complicated?

Please let it not be at the expense of having a specialist tighthead prop on the bench. Julian Redelinghuys has now proven his value to the Bok cause and it is hugely comforting having a real tighthead as not only backup to Frans Malherbe, but pushing him for a start. This with Lourens Adriaanse, Vincent Koch and Marcel van der Merwe at the ready.

In modern day 23 man squads there is absolutely no need for the “Swinger” prop who can play both sides – a necessity in 22 man squads which only had space for one prop on the bench. As such, moving on from the Coenie Oosthuizen experiment that previous coach Heyneke Meyer obsessed with, is one of the excellent calls Coetzee has made.

But with Coetzee hinting at using Nyakane – who does spend some time at tighthead for the Bulls – in a swinger type role for the Boks at a Cape Town press conference ahead of the Newlands Test, I fear this to be a temporary decision.

Enter Coenie 2.0 in order to accommodate Kitshoff. Is it worth it?


  1. Tank – don’t you think that Kitshoff’s scrumming ability make him far more valuable than any other prop in the Bok setup at the moment? Nyakane and Beast both seemed to either struggle or look completely innocuous vs the Irish at scrum time.

    I can’t comment on Gqoboko or the rest (haven’t really seen them play at this level), but shouldn’t that put him head and shoulders above the rest, even if he is playing overseas? (And white, as you put it!)

    1. Hi Kyle. In a normal society Kitshoff would be a shoe in. He is better than Beast. But this is no normal society as we pursue transformation goals to rectify previous wrongs, and my question is basically whether Kitshoff is worth what we have to give up?

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