Why Elrigh Louw beat Evan Roos in battle of emerging Springbok No8s
By Rugby Onslaught

Why Elrigh Louw beat Evan Roos in battle of emerging Springbok No8s

In the battle to take hold of the South Africa No8 jersey for the next ten years, the Bulls’ Elrigh Louw drew first blood this week ahead of the Stormers’ Evan Roos.

The pair of 22-year-olds have been tearing up trees in the United Rugby Championship so far this season, but it is Louw who has made the Springboks’ preseason alignment camp ahead of Roos. This has caused quite a stir online, with many fans showing their utter disbelief that Roos has missed out.

However, Jared Wright suggested why Louw may have won this contest for now, citing his positional versatility and strength in the lineout as a reason why. But he did highlight the extraordinary depth the Boks have at No.8, with more European-based players to be thrown into the mix as well.

“Evan Roos isn’t getting a look in yet but it’s not that difficult to see why.

“Last year, just three players started at no.8 for the Boks. Jasper Wiese, Kwagga Smith, and Duane Vermeulen.

“So spots are limited.

“Wiese and Smith ended up playing on the side of the scrum throughout the year too.

“For the RWC, we had just one out-and-out no.8 in Duane. Brits, Smith, and Flo provided cover.

“Elrigh Louw would give options at no.8, blindside and even lock, I don’t think Roos gives the same kind of versatility, especially in the lineouts.

“Raw numbers show Roos with 8 lineout takes in the URC, Louw with 23. That’s a big difference.

“With Smith, Wiese and Duane vying for the no.8 jersey it is already a congested position and that’s before you look at someone like Dan du Preez or Juarno Augustus.”

Springboks coach Jacques Nienaber did emphasise this week that the door is not shut for those that have not been picked, neither is there a guarantee that those who have been picked will play either.

“We will host similar camps with our overseas-based players in the next few weeks, but the door is not shut for other players to be invited to the remaining camps,” he said.

“It is also important to emphasise that being invited to these camps by no means is a guarantee of selection for the Castle Lager Incoming Tour squad, but rather an opportunity for the players to start switching into the mind-set required for the international season.”

But for now, Louw has won the battle, and this montage from TAS Analytics may help to explain why: