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Moerat ready to saddle up

Bok coach Jacques Nienaber concedes he faces tough choices

26 October 2021 - 16:14 By LIAM DEL CARME
Stormers second rower Salmaan Moerat may get his first Test start in the UK next month.
Stormers second rower Salmaan Moerat may get his first Test start in the UK next month.
Image: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images

His arrival has been delayed due to untimely injury, but Salmaan Moerat is ready to take up his place in the Springbok second row.

Having his introduction to the game's highest level paused has been a pain in the neck, but Moerat is thankful he can now contest for a place in the Springboks' match day 23 for their upcoming clashes against Wales, Scotland and England.

RG Snyman's continued absence, as well as the injury to Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg who came into the squad while Moerat was on the mend, has helped smooth the path to his long awaited elevation.

Tantalisingly, Moerat has had a whiff of what it might be like.

I’ve been through the (Elite Player Development) system and have attended two training camps before so I have seen what it takes to be in the national squad,” he said from Paris,  where the team is preparing this week.

Wants to take in as much as possible

I have the opportunity to be here, and it is very special for me and my family, so I would like to do as well as I can if I get the chance and to learn as much as possible,” said Moerat.

“If I get the opportunity or not, I plan to enjoy this occasion as much as possible and take in as much as I can.

It has been special to join up with the guys. This is an ideal opportunity to get to know how they do things around here.”

Moerat is used to operating in exalted company. His progress through the system was a calculated march at Youth Week tournaments. He captained the SA Schools team in 2016, and did the same with the Junior Springboks two years later.

His progress to the senior ranks was seamless and he already cuts a towering figure in the respective jerseys of the Stormers and Western Province.

Whether he will make his debut against Wales next week or deeper in the tour remains to be seen. Coach Jacques Nienaber has perhaps weightier ponderables before he settles on his team for Wales.

Competition drives up standards

One of the talking points has been who will start at scrumhalf with Faf de Klerk absent through injury. De Klerk has had an operation on a troublesome hip. Herschel Jantjies has been his understudy but Cobus Reinach shot into the starting team against Argentina, ostensibly because of a superior kicking game.

“Between Cobus, Herschel and Grant (Williamson) it is going to be a tough one,” said Nienaber about his options.

“That is what you want in a squad like ours. It drives up standards. Cobus was excellent for us. He last played in the British & Irish Lions series and then Faf came back. If you look at how Herschel finished the last game I thought he had a pretty good outing. We are very fortunate that we have good nines all pushing for starting spots. That's what you want.”