While head coach Allister Coetzee will take the lions share of the blame for the Springboks poor run of form in 2017, the players undoubtedly also must take some of the responsibility.
As a unit South Africa clearly underperformed, their backs seemed completely undercooked at times but certain individuals contributing more than others to their spluttering 2017 backline.
Allister Coetzee is clearly a fan of the versatile 27-year-old, believing him to be a “very underrated player.”
“He’s very safe with a low error rate. That’s what you need in your fullback.”
Coetzee played in all 13 tests in 2017 but was inconsistent, struggling for pace and had difficulties in the air, even during their most recent performance against Wales.
The scrumhalf position was an issue for Coetzee over the course of 2017 and while Cronje did start the campaign well, looking reliable and assured against France and Argentina, other performances weren’t as encouraging.
His display in Dublin was a season-low point, with aimless kicking and no discernable game management.
2017 was a golden opportunity to nail down the nine jersey, instead, he will go into 2018 with players like Rudy Paige waiting in shadows for their chance should he continue in this vein.
Kriel doesn’t seem to be the same player he was a couple of seasons ago but at just 23-years-of-age, time is certainly on his side.
Coach Coetzee has insisted on persisting with him this season despite his lack of form, ability to straighten his attacking lines, removing space from the players around him.
He is, however, a large piece of South African beef and at such a young age perhaps this year can be chalked down to experience.
Courtnall Skosan & Raymond Rhule
The Springboks wing situation was perhaps one of their most problematic areas this season, especially when they went up against top-class opposition the gulf seemed cavernous.
While Rhule’s career may never come back from the record-breaking 57-0 defeat to the All Blacks in Albany where he managed to miss an impressive nine tackles, Skosan just really never hit top form and you feel there could be more in the tank.
Sign up to our mailing list for a weekly digest from the wide world of rugby.Sign Up Now