Sat, 11 Jul 2020

The 9 greatest ever Springbok No 9s

News24
04 Jun 2020, 20:10 GMT+10

Sport24's Herman Mostert picks his 9 greatest scrumhalves - in order - to have worn the No 9 jersey for the Springboks.

But what do YOU think?

Who was the greatest Springbok to pull the key No 10 jersey over his head?

Let us know your thoughts by mailing us on mysport@sport24.co.za or by tweeting us @Sport24news

1. Fourie du Preez

A tactical genius who was the perfect "all round" No 9.

He won every big accolade in rugby, from a Super Rugby title to a World Cup, as well as a series win over the British & Irish Lions.

The Blue Bulls stalwart was quite big for a scrumhalf - 1.82m and 90kg - yet you could never blame him for slow service behind the engine room.

The sign of a good player is always one who appears to have a lot of time under pressure and 76-Test capped Du Preez was exactly that.

2. Joost van der Westhuizen

World-class is an apt description for the 1995 World Cup hero.

At 1.88m and 88kg he was one of the biggest scrumhalves on the Test stage, but boasted a terrific pass and immense speed.

Van der Westhuizen was also a fearless defender and holds the record as the most Test-capped No 9 for South Africa (89).

He also scored an impressive 38 Test tries.

The Blue Bulls legend sadly died of motor neurone disease aged 45 in 2017.

3. Divan Serfontein

A general behind a strong Springbok and Western Province pack in the early 1980s. He scored a decisive try on Test debut against the British Lions at Newlands in 1980 and went on to establish himself as South Africa's frontline scrumhalf in the early 1980s.

He played 19 Tests was involved in the first three of five Western Province Currie Cup triumphs between 1982 and 1986.

At 1.67m and 70kg, Serfontein was one of the smallest ever Springboks but made up for it with his skill, rugby intellect and general feel for the game.

He retired at the relatively young age of 30 in 1984 to focus on his career as an orthopaedic surgeon.

4. Dawie de Villiers

Dawie 'De Viljee', as the legendary late radio commentator Gerhard Viviers used to call him, was the dominant scrumhalf in South Africa during the 1960s.

At 1.71m and 73kg, the former Springbok captain was no giant but was the stereotypical scrumhalf with a great pass, pace, agility and an eye for a gap.

His Test career ended in triumph when he led the Springboks to a 20-17 win over the All Blacks at Ellis Park - and subsequent 3-1 series win.

The now 79-year-old was an ordained minister in the Dutch Reformed Church and a renowned politician.

5. Danie Craven

The former South Africa rugby boss will fondly be remembered for the work he did off the field, but Craven was a fine player in his own right.

He played 16 Tests between 1931 and 1938 and was a member of the only Springbok team to win a series in New Zealand in 1937.

He played scrumhalf in 12 of his 16 Tests, the others being at centre, flyhalf and even one Test at No 8.

His sturdy 1.78m and 80kg frame allowed for his versatility and he was technically one of the best, and no doubt ahead of his time.

Craven is also credited with mastering the "dive pass", a skill not on display too often nowadays.

"Dok" died in Stellenbosch in 1993, aged 82.

6. Ricky Januarie

Any scrumhalf who managed 47 Tests in the era of the great Fourie du Preez deserves a mention.

Januarie had a sound kicking game, a solid pass and was a good defender.

He stood at 1.68m and weighed over 90kg but also had an eye for a gap.

Who can ever forget his late solo try four minutes from time against the All Blacks in Dunedin in 2008. It was South Africa's first win in New Zealand since 1998 and also their first at Carisbrook's 'House of Pain' in eight visits.

7. Paul Bayvel

Played 10 Tests for the Springboks between 1974 and 1976.

The highlight of his career was playing in all four Tests against the touring All Blacks of 1976, a series the Boks won 3-1.

The fleet-footed scrumhalf (1.72m and 73kg) played his provincial rugby for Transvaal (now called the Lions) and will go down as one of the finest scrumhalves produced by the province.

Die-hard Lions fans will also fondly recall Bayvel's halfback partnership with legendary former flyhalf Gerald Bosch.

He sadly died of cancer last month, aged 71.

8. Faf de Klerk

The 2019 World Cup winner is currently South Africa's frontline scrumhalf.

He possesses a sound kicking game and is also not shy to have a go in open spaces.

The former Lions No 9 stands only 1.70m but at 88kg is more than capable of standing up to bigger forwards.

The 28-year-old has already notched 30 Tests since making his debut in 2016 and boasts four Test tries.

9. Ruan Pienaar

It's tough to leave out a veteran of 88 Tests.

Pienaar was a versatile player and was often used off the bench. He played Tests at flyhalf, fullback and wing, but 56 came at scrumhalf.

At 1.87m and 91kg, the 36-year-old is also not the stereotypical No 9 but he has all the valuable attributes of being successful in the position.

He's got a strong pass, a great boot and reads the game particularly well.

Garth Wright, Pierre de Villiers, Fonnie du Toit, Werner Swanepoel, Joggie Viljoen snr, Herschel Jantjies

READ | The 10 greatest ever Springbok No 10s

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