Jordan Hendrikse during the Springboks’ team profile shoot in Pretoria. Image: Via the SA Rugby website.

Closer look: Springboks’ four debutants, and why they were picked!

Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus has named four uncapped players to face Wales this Saturday. This is why they have cracked the nod.


Jordan Hendrikse during the Springboks’ team profile shoot in Pretoria. Image: Via the SA Rugby website.

The Springboks’ wider training squad included as many as 11 uncapped players, but only four will make their debut against Wales this Saturday.

Edwill van der Merwe (wing) and Jordan Hendrikse (flyhalf) are the two uncapped players named in the run-on team – which features a good balance of youth and experience – while Ben-Jason Dixon (lock) and Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu (utility back) are the two new faces on the replacements bench.

why have the Springboks backed these players?

Jordan Hendrikse

This is one selection that caught many by surprise, especially considering that Sanele Nohamba has predominantly dominated the Lions’ No 10 jersey this season. However, the Springbok coaches have clearly seen the untapped potential possessed by the talented Hendrikse. His long-range kicking game, ability to cover centre as well as his accurate defence have undoubtedly also contributed to his selection.

Edwill van der Merwe

The Lions star has been somewhat of a late bloomer, having played Varsity Cup until he was 24. After a brief stint at the Stormers, his move to the Lions has transformed his career over the last few seasons. With speed, surprising strength and strong fishing abilities all on his side, Van der Merwe’s selection makes perfect sense in the absence of Kurt-Lee Arendse and Cheslin Kolbe.

Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu

The 22-year-old has enjoyed a breakthrough season at the Stormers, and there is no doubt that he possesses all the raw talent that could lead to a long and illustrious career at Springbok level. With the ability to cover flyhalf, centre and fullback, he will offer great value off the bench as the Springboks look to slowly begin his integration onto the international stage.

Ben-Jason Dixon

The versatile forward recently earned his 50th cap for the Stormers, with the 26-year-old having enjoyed another standout season for the Cape franchise. His high work rate and physicality has clearly caught the eye of the Springbok coaches, while his ability to cover lock and loose forward makes him well suited to a role on the bench.

What did Rassie Erasmus have to say?

“This is an exciting playing squad and travelling group, and we are looking forward to seeing how the uncapped players step up at top international level and how we execute what we’ve been working on at training in the last few days and at the alignment camps,” said Erasmus. “The likes of Edwill, Jordan, Ben-Jason, and Sacha have really impressed us at training, and we believe they have what it takes to make their presence felt against a quality team such as Wales.

“They will be surrounded by several experienced campaigners – some of whom are Rugby World Cup winners – so they will have enough guidance on the field to fulfil their roles even when the pressure is on. It is equally exciting for us to see players such as Aphelele (Fassi), Evan (Roos), Ntuthuko (Mchunu), and Salmaan (Moerat) back in the green in gold after earning their stripes in the last few seasons.”