‘Boks have wing shortage’

Chester Williams says Gerhard van den Heever and Gio Aplon should be in line for starting opportunities with the Springboks.

With injuries to JP Pietersen (knee), Akona Ndugane (broken leg), Jongi Nokwe (broken jaw) and Lionel Mapoe (shoulder), Bok head coach Peter de Villiers will have limited wing choices for the June Test series.

The Boks face Wales (5 June), France (12th) and Italy (19th and 26th). Odwa Ndungane and Tonderai Chavanga are the only fit wings who have Test experience, but Williams believes Van den Heever and Aplon are the form wings.

‘It is clear that there is a shortage of quality wings at the moment,’ Williams told keo.co.za. ‘Look at a side like the Bulls, they play scrumhalf Francios Hougaard on the wing while there aren’t any standouts at the Sharks, Lions or Cheetahs with the injuries to JP, Jongi and Lionel.

‘Bryan Habana will definitely start at left wing and I think Gio or Gerhard should fill in at right wing. Gerhard has been performing well for the Bulls and he’s been scoring a lot of tries, more than any other wing at the moment. So he deserves a chance.

‘Gio has played a lot at fullback with Joe Pietersen injured during the Super 14, but when shifted to wing, he has done just as well for the Stormers. Gio and Gerhard will be in my top two for wing selection.’

Williams added that Mapoe is the Boks’ biggest loss.

‘Last year, Lionel played some great rugby and he was one of the form wings. He played well again this year, but unfortunately he picked up that shoulder injury. This should’ve been his breakthrough season.’

Another potential option for De Villiers could be Cheetahs wing Bjorn Basson, who showed great try-scoring form towards the latter stage of the Super 14.

By Gareth Duncan