The Springboks couldn’t have asked for a better replacement for the injured Cheslin Kolbe than Sbu Nkosi, writes SIMON BORCHARDT.
Kolbe has been ruled out of Sunday’s semi-final against Wales in Yokohama after failing to recover from an ankle injury he sustained against Canada and aggravated last week against Japan.
Make no mistake, losing Kolbe is a big blow for the Boks. The winger has been his team’s biggest attacking weapon and he is a serious contender for the World Rugby Player of the Year award.
Kolbe has created something almost every time he’s touched the ball at this World Cup. He is as slippery as an eel, having beaten 16 defenders during 23 runs, and would have scored more than two tries (against Italy) had those inside him done a better job.
The Boks, though, have an excellent replacement in Nkosi, who some believe should be in the first-choice starting XV (with Kolbe at fullback).
The 23-year-old has scored 10 tries in eight appearances, including two in the Test against Argentina at Loftus in August and one in the World Cup pool match against Canada.
Nkosi certainly knows his way to the tryline and at 1.81m and 97kg he will add some bulk to the Bok back three, which also comprises Makazole Mapimpi and Willie le Roux.
That could be useful against Wales, with Nkosi’s direct opponent expected to be Josh Adams, the 1.86m, 95kg winger who has scored five tries at this tournament.
If Nkosi plays well on Sunday – and the Boks win – it would give coach Rassie Erasmus something to think about ahead of the World Cup final, as a fit-again Kolbe could come back into the team at fullback, in place of Le Roux, with Nkosi keeping the No 14 jersey.
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