Who will be the centre of attention for Springboks in the June Tests?

Lukhanyo Am Chris Ricco/BackpagePix

While Rassie Erasmus is still trying to find a match-winning scrumhalf ahead of the Tests against Wales and England in June, the Springbok boss has a plethora of centres trying to break down the door into the Bok team.

A few years ago the Boks had slim pickings in the outside-centre position, but now Erasmus can field any#one of four players who would do justice to the No 13 jersey. The same goes for the inside-centre berth, with many players -- local and overseas -- being talked about as possible options.

The weekend, when the Bulls take on the Sharks, the two leading candidates for the outside centre berth Jesse Kriel and Lukhanyo Am go head to head in a mini Bok trail.

KweséESPN examines these two players, as well as others looking to catch Erasmus' eye over the next couple of weeks before he announces his squads for next month's Test matches.


Damian de Allende (Stormers)

The big No 12 is slowly getting back to his best. De Allende had a top 2015 when he topped most of the attacking stats in Super Rugby, but, after coming back from a ankle injury he suffered in Japan, he looked burnt out and sluggish in 2016 and 2017. However, he is breaking tackles again and even attempting to offload in the tackle. His size makes him an attractive prospect for Erasmus.

Frans Steyn (Montpellier, France)

Will we see the return of the prodigal son in June? Steyn remains one of the most talented, yet enigmatic players this country has ever produced. He will certainly add a lot of experience to the Bok backline, as he has a great rugby brain and a canon of a right foot. Steyn is a player who can attack the advantage line with his size, but is also skilful enough to free up his outside backs with his distribution.

André Esterhuizen (Sharks)

Esterhuizen is a powerful player who can punch holes in the opposition's defensive line with his direct running. But he is no longer just the one-dimensional basher, as he has added an offloading game to his armoury after spending some time with former All Black flyhalf Carlos Spencer at the Japanese club Sanix Blues. However, he can still improve in the skills department, as well as extend his vision as a playmaker.


Jesse Kriel (Bulls)

The jury is still out on whether outside centre is indeed Kriel's best position on a rugby field, but he is certainly making the most of his opportunities in the No 13 jersey in Super Rugby. Kriel has always been a great strike runner, quick and at beautiful angles. There is a still a big question mark about his defence in that outside-centre channel, but his attacking threats certainly outweighs those perceived defensive frailties.

Lukhanyo Am (Sharks)

Am was unlucky to miss the Springboks' June Tests against France in 2016 after suffering a broken jaw. Former coach Allister Coetzee ignored him for most of the year after that, before giving him a cap run as a substitute against Wales in November. Am is a brilliant attacking player, but also a smart defender in that important channel and great at fighting for the ball at the breakdown. He certainly is a favourite.

Francois Venter (Cheetahs)

The Cheetahs man has been one of the most consistent players in the country for a number of years, and he deserves to be in the mix following a few top displays during the November tour. He can play both inside and outside centre and is a guy who won't surprise you with a nightmare display. However, it will be interesting to see if Erasmus will give him a shot ahead of Am and Kriel, who are arguably better on attack.