RYAN VREDE wonders if Bjorn Basson will develop into a world-class wing at the Bulls or bomb like some of their recent backline recruits.
On Wednesday the Bulls announced the wing’s signing from Griquas on a two-year deal that will keep him at Loftus until October 2012.
On the surface it appears to be an excellent acquisition. Basson has the pace to trouble defences, and will improve his strength and conditioning under Basil Carzis at the Bulls, amplifying his threat.
While Francois Hougaard adequately filled the void left by Bryan Habana on the wing in 2010, Basson’s arrival offers him the opportunity to play more regularly at scrumhalf – a boon for the Bulls and Springboks.
However, whether Basson elevates his play in Pretoria and in doing so increases the potency of the side, or whether he descends into a maze of mediocrity, remains to be seen.
Undoubtedly, the Bulls hope to have purchased the V6 that was on the showroom floor in Kimberley, with ambitions of souping up their investment.
They’ll have to, because they’ve purchased too many meek 1.4s in recent years.
Topping that list is Jaco Pretorius, who, in three seasons at the Bulls, has failed to replicate the superb form he showed for the Lions in 2006 and 2007.
Zane Kirchner is another who arrived from Griquas promising much, but delivering little beyond the basics. In keeping with the motoring metaphor, he’s been like a Toyota Corolla, unfailingly reliable, but hardly a wet-your-pants ride.
Both will dangle their Super Rugby and Currie Cup medals to refute the suggestion that they have been ordinary, the former’s case further supported by his Springbok call-ups in 2009 and 2010. But both were supporting cast in those domestic triumphs, and Kirchner’s limitations were brutally exposed at Test level, an assertion supported by his subsequent axing.
Basson must buck that worrying trend, and the Bulls, through their game plan, must maximise his immense potential, lest Loftus develops a reputation for being the place talented backline players go to die.