Springboks need to expose Curwin Bosch to Test rugby

Curwin Bosch of the Sharks during the Super Rugby match against the Jaguares. Steve Haag, Gallo Images/Getty Images

New Zealand flyhalf Beauden Barrett capped off a sensational 2016 by being crowned World Rugby Player of the year, an accolade he received almost a year after his predecessor Dan Carter walked away with the prize following the All Blacks' World Cup triumph.

This is a credit to New Zealand's succession plan. Life after the mercurial Carter has been as a breeze. The transition has been seamless, as Barrett has taken ownership of a position that was occupied by one of the best players to ever play the game.

It seems like South African rugby and the Springboks have not had any sort of succession plan over the last 10 years. After Jake White built his 2007 World Cup-winning team from scratch in 2004, the Boks were still relying on those veterans to win a world title in 2015.

While the stalwarts got a bit long in the tooth, promising youngsters never got enough exposure to grow in the international arena.

Barrett and players such as hooker Dane Coles and opensider Sam Cane are great examples of how the All Blacks' succession plan eases young, talented players into international rugby. Any Test team would struggle to replace players such as Richie McCaw, Dan Carter and Keven Mealamu, but the New Zealanders aren't even mentioning those names anymore.

Barrett and Springbok flyhalf Elton Jantjies made their Test debuts in the same year (2012). But since then Barrett has featured in 49 Tests for the All Blacks, while Jantjies has only played 11 - most of those Tests came in 2016.

Jantjies is a wonderfully talented player, with all the attributes of a world-class flyhalf. He played some brilliant rugby in 2016 and was one of the main reasons why the Lions went all the way to the Super Rugby final.

But he was poor in the Springbok jersey because he never had proper exposure to the intensity of Test rugby. Barrett shone in 2016 because he was always in and around the All Black team. And, if he stays fit, will have even more caps going into the next Rugby World Cup.

Jantjies' struggles last year should be an eye opener for South African rugby. If talented youngsters aren't managed properly and exposed to the rigours of Test rugby at a young age, they are also going to drop the ball when they should actually be in their prime.

That's why the current debate surrounding talented South African Under-20 and Sharks flyhalf Curwin Bosch is such a crucial one heading into the Test matches against France in June.

With Patrick Lambie (fractured vertebra) and Handré Pollard (ankle) missing through injury, Bosch and Jantjies are the front-runners to wear the Bok No. 10 shirt - at least as far as the local options are concerned. France-based Morné Steyn and Frans Steyn could also be in the mix come next month.

But Bosch was included in the Junior Boks' squad for the World Rugby Under-20 Championships. It will be 19-year-old's second appearance at the tournament after a few standout performances in 2016.

So, essentially, the talented flyhalf is probably not going to play any part in the Test matches against France, because if South Africa do make the final in Georgia they will only be coming back on 19 June.

Bosch has been such a revelation in his first full season of Super Rugby with his silky running skills, his crisp distribution and metronomic boot. But what has been even more impressive is his wonderful temperament and maturity beyond his age.

The kid oozes class. He is no ordinary player. Such a talent doesn't come around too often. He is a Barrett-type talent - and he can kick his goals too ...

So why is Bosch going to a junior tournament, which is not going to aid his development in any way, when he could be exposed to international rugby? He looks like he may be able to swim rather than sink when thrown into the deep end.

Barrett made his debut for the All Blacks as a 20-year-old, a year after representing the New Zealand Under-20s. Five years later he is on the brink of playing his 50th Test match for his country, and primed to torment opposition defences for another decade.

The Boks made the mistake of not giving Jantjies the proper exposure as a youngster. His development is essentially four years behind.

South African rugby is looking for the next big superstar who can steer the country out of the choppy waters they find themselves in right now. Bosch is that kid. Time to give him a shot.