Five South African players to watch in Super Rugby 2020

The mass player exodus after the 2019 Rugby World Cup has left most of the South African Super Rugby franchises scrambling to find game-breakers.

South African rugby still has an abundance of players though, and the string of departures have opened the door for new heroes to emerge.

Here we look at a handful of players who could step up for their franchise when Super Rugby returns at the end of this month.

Warrick Gelant – Bulls

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Warrick Gallant of the Vodacom Bulls goes up for the aerial challenge during the Super Rugby match between Vodacom Bulls and Cell C Sharks at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria, South Africa. PHOTO: Gordon Arons/Gallo Images

Already a Springbok fringe player Gelant now has the opportunity to prove himself as the long-term successor to Willie le Roux.

The way the Bulls play will mean that Gelant will need to strike up a relationship with returning flyhalf Morne Steyn who fills the void left by Handre Pollard’s departure to France. Steyn’s bags of experience and positional awareness should help unlock the attacking potential of Gelant from fullback.

Gelant’s ability to counter off the kick coupled with the Bulls lineout should make a winning combination.

Werner Kok – Sharks

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Werner Kok of South Africa steps through defenders at the 2019 London Sevens. Kok has joined the Sharks squad for the 2020 Super Rugby season Photo: Warren Little/Getty Images

The Blitzboks star has been freed up to try his hand at the fifteen man game once again and joins a Sharks backline full of exciting players.

Kok was not used in the Blitzboks squad in Dubai but played with the SA Sevens Academy, so it is still unclear how much of the Sharks campaign he will be available for.

The departure of Andre Esterhuizen for Japan has left an opening in the Sharks midfield for the versatile centre Kok but with Springbok Lukhanyo Am and enforcer Jeremy Ward also in the group he may very well be deployed between Curwin Bosch and the outside backs.

JD Schickerling – Stormers

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Eben Etzebeth replacement: JD Schickerling during the South African national rugby team training session at WSC Treforest Grounds on November 19, 2018 in Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

The Stormers have held onto the bulk of their Springboks, but the loss of Eben Etzebeth opens the door for the 24-year-old man mountain.

Schickerling has all the raw ingredients to be a Springbok but it remains to be seen if he can match the work-rate of Etzebeth or his national team locking partner Lood de Jager.

Pieter-Steph du Toit is in the squad, but his conversion to a flank now appears to be complete, and Schickerling should be in the matchday squad when fit alongside Chris van Zyl and Salmaan Moerat.

Hacjivah Dayimani – Lions

Hacjivah Dayimani - Five South African players to watch in Super Rugby 2020
Hacjivah Dayimani of the Lions during the Currie Cup match between Xerox Golden Lions XV and Vodacom Blue Bulls at Emirates Airline Park on August 10, 2019 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Lee Warren/Gallo Images)

Injury prevented Dayimani from making his Blitzboks debut at the Cape Town Sevens, but it appears he is still in Neill Powell’s plans which may impact his involvement in Super Rugby.

The Lions will need Dayimani to be at his best if they are to mount a challenge given how their forward pack has been decimated. Five Lions forwards moved to Japan since last season including Springbok flank Kwagga Smith and inspirational hooker Malcolm Marx.

The absence of Smith and Marx means that Dayimani will have to get his hands dirty at the breakdown if the Lions are to keep hold of the ball.

Give him a bit of space though and he will hurt you.

Ox Nché – Sharks

Ox Nche - Five South African players to watch in Super Rugby 2020
BLOEMFONTEIN, SOUTH AFRICA – AUGUST 02: Ox Nche of the Toyota Free State Cheetahs during the Currie Cup match between Toyota Free State XV and Xerox Golden Lions XV at Toyota Stadium on August 02, 2019 in Bloemfontein, South Africa. (Photo by Johan Pretorius/Gallo Images)

Dynamic frontranker Nché joins the Sharks from the Cheetahs after a superb end to the Currie Cup season last year. Nche saved his best performance for the semi-final against the Sharks and they have brought him in after also suffering a string of frontrow losses.

The Sharks lost their most capped player ever in Tendai Mtawarira and in many ways Nché must try to fill his inspirational boots while Coenie Oosthuizen has also left Durban for the Sale Sharks where he joins hooker Akker van der Merwe.

Nché has improved his scrumming immensely in two seasons of PRO14 graft, but it will be in the loose where he may delight the army of black and white supporters in the forthcoming Super Rugby season..

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