Rory Kockott for the Springboks at the next Rugby World Cup?

Is it really that daft a prediction that Rory Kockott will feature for the Springboks at the next Rugby World Cup?

He is a wild card, at best, given that he is yet to feature in any way in the plans of Bok coach Heyneye Meyer that have included other French-based players in Morne Steyn, Bryan Habana and Bakkies Botha.

They played for the Boks last November on loans from French clubs, along with Japanese Boks in Jaque Fourie, JP Pietersen and Fourie du Preez.

The name of Kockott comes up not only because he last season was voted by his French peers as the best player in the French Top 14 competition, but also because we have just lost another leading South African scrumhalf to that part of the world in Charl Mcleod, who moves to Grenoble in August.

As mentioned, Meyer’s No 1 choice, Du Preez is in Japan, No 2 is Ruan Pienaar and he very happy at Ulster and the third choice last year, Jano Vermaak is also in France. The previous No 1, before Fourie du Preez was back in the reckoning, was Francois Hougaard, and he is thankfully back playing for the Bulls and there is solid back up him in Pretoria in up-and-comer Piet van Zyl, who last year was with the Cheetahs.

Otherwise there is not a lot out there in terms of proven scrumhalves after the Sharks’ first choice in Jaco Reinach and the Cheetahs’ Sarel du Plessis, the nippy 9 that everybody loves for his brilliance on attack but who few coaches will choose in big games because they regard him as a liability on defence. Newcomer Faf de Klerk, the revelation in the current Lions’ renaissance , is still to prove himself over a period of time, so let’s face it, when it comes to reliable scrumhalves, the South African No 9 larder is relatively bare.

Many who have played overseas will argue that probably the most proven South African scrumhalf in the business is the former Storrmers and Springbok man, Neil de Kock, the 35-year-old who has been the rock at Saracens for 12 years. He has amassed 180 caps for the London club and he would certainly have played for England had he not played 10 games for the Boks early in his career when he was still with Western Province. No South African scrumhalf in 2015 will know English conditions better than him.

And then there is Kockott, who after battling to tie down a regular starting place at the Sharks five years ago because of the arrival of McLeod from the Lions, moved to Castre where he quickly became a household name because of his pugnacious approach to scrumhalf play and his unerring boot.

Kockott was a favourite at Kings Park, too, because of aggressive nature and ability to get things going, not to mention his very good strike rate with the boot. But he never settled down under coach John Plumtree, who once succinctly summed up his feeling on Kockott as a playmaker when he said: “Rory is a very good rugby player, and one you always want on your side rather than against you, but he is not always a good scrumhalf.”

What Plumtree meant is that Kockott’s competitiveness sometimes meant that he leant towards individualism, neglecting his primary role of distribution to the backline.

Plumtree may have been right, and it could be that he has been proved wrong in the testing conditions of rugby in France, but one thing is certain for Kockott, he has risen to the top.

He is still just 27, and the product of Selborne College in East London this year qualifies to play for France. If he is not in Springbok colours in London in 2015, he almost certainly will be there with Les Bleus.

By Mike Greenaway

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About Martin Myers
Music Supervisor / Artist and Talent Manager / Publicist / Music Exchange Founder / Owner Triple M Entertainment

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