South Africa’s summer Test series: players to watch out for against England

Andy Baber
07 June 2018

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South African rugby made a big splash in the Guinness PRO14 this season following the introduction of two of its franchises, Toyota Cheetahs and Southern Kings.

Ox Nche in action for Toyota Cheetahs in the Guinness PRO14

Joining teams from Wales, Italy, Ireland and Scotland, Cheetahs managed to progress to the Guinness PRO14 Final Series at their first attempt before being defeated by Scarlets in a semi-final qualifier.

Focus now turns to the international stage with the Springboks being beaten by Wales ahead of a three-Test series against England in Johannesburg, Bloemfontein and Cape Town.

South African director of rugby Rassie Erasmus has picked an experimental squad of 43 players, including 17 uncapped players, with several current and former Guinness PRO14 stars in the mix.

We’ve taken a look at three players to watch out for during the tour as the hosts look to maintain their record of never losing a Test series against England on their own soil.

Ox Nché

Retshegofaditswe ‘Tshego’ Nché, better known as Ox, has been a rising talent in South African for several years having impressed at Under-20 level on the international stage.

The 22-year-old was given his big break by Cheetahs in Super Rugby and he repaid their faith in the 2016 season as he picked up the Currie Cup Player of the Year award.

He has since made the loosehead prop role his own and featured in all 22 of the Cheetahs Guinness PRO14 games last season as they reached the Guinness PRO14 Final Series.

His consistency earned him an invite to the final Springbok alignment camp earlier this year, before Erasmus selected him for the squad to face Wales and England.

While he was unable to show his full range of skills on his senior debut, Nché has the ability to be an excellent option for Erasmus off the bench if he opts for more experience against the Red Rose.

As well as being a strong scrummager, he is an all-action forward who is comfortable with ball in hand and has the pace to trouble any defence.

Oupa Mohojé

Another star for Toyota Cheetahs during their debut Guinness PRO14 season, Oupa Mohojé has been in and around the green and gold side since 2014.

The 27-year-old, who can play at lock or flanker, has made 19 senior appearances for his country and will be eager to impress Erasmus in the three Tests against England.

Mohojé was a pivotal member of the Cheetahs side in the 2017/18 campaign and while injury has halted his progress on the international stage, he is now fighting fit and in good form.

As one of the few experienced starters against Wales, he would have hoped to have done more to establish his claim for a starting berth, but he was far from at fault for the defeat.

He has the ability to be a game changer on his day and should he get his chance against the tourists, don’t be surprised if he shows off the attributes that earned him his early Springbok call-up.

Makazole Mapimpi

One of the players to emerge with credit in the bank after the Springboks began their summer tour with a late 22-20 defeat against Wales in Washington DC.

Winger Makazole Mapimpi was one of seven debutants against Warren Gatland’s side and scored South Africa’s second try as they moved into three-point lead with minutes left on the clock.

They were not able to hold on as Wales stole the game at the death, but while the result was disappointing, Mapimpi showed what an incredible attacking threat he provides.

He scores tries wherever he goes and took the Guinness PRO14 by storm last season, finishing as the second-highest try scorer with ten.

After a successful stint with the Kings in 2017, he has continued to go from strength to strength since swapping Cheetahs for the Sharks ahead of the 2018 Super Rugby season.

Erasmus praised the winger as one of the debutants to shine brightest against Wales, highlighting his improvement under the high ball, and he could be a dangerous weapon against England.

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