Springbok players ratings: Handre Pollard, Canan Moodie shine as Springboks made to sweat against Tonga

Handre Pollard was on song for the Springbok on his return to the team. Photo: Hidenori Nagai/The Yomiuri Shimbun via AFP

Handre Pollard was on song for the Springbok on his return to the team. Photo: Hidenori Nagai/The Yomiuri Shimbun via AFP

Published Oct 2, 2023


The Springboks were made to sweat by Tonga in their final Group B match at the World Cup, winning 49-18.

It was a solid team effort in which certain individuals shone. Mike Greenaway rates the players out of 10.

15 Willie le Roux — The veteran failed to make an impact on the game until finishing efficiently for a try on the three-quarter mark. Overall, he does not inspire confidence. (5.5)

14 Grant Williams — The scrumhalf never looked out of place on the wing and his energetic forays showed that he can do a job there if required. (6)

13 Canan Moodie — On 20 minutes he broke a Tongan siege with a well-taken, opportunistic try. He also tackled tenaciously. He constantly looked dangerous. (7.5)

12 Andre Esterhuizen — Gave away a penalty at the start of the game to give Tonga the lead but otherwise was exceptional in his block-busting ball-carrying. (8)

11 Makazola Mapimpi — He left the field midway through the first half because of a head impact issue. He had looked hungry on the attack until then. (6)

10 Handre Pollard — He nailed his attempt at poles and continued to perform smoothly. He kicked four out of four at posts for a pleasing return. Did he have the same impact on the attack that Manie Libbok has been having? Possibly (7).

9 Cobus Reinach — He scored the opening try after showing wonderful vision in taking a quick tap penalty to surprise the sleeping Tongans. He was a touch over-eager at times but overall he put big pressure on Faf de Klerk. (7.5)

8 Jasper Wiese— In the first half and hour when Tonga were pressing, Wiese put in a huge effort on defence. He has such a powerful engine and will surely start in the playoffs. He had a great game. (8)

7 Duane Vermeulen — Strong physical presence at close quarters. He had an impressive outing in the unfamiliar No 7 jersey and showed he still has juice in the tank. (7)

6 Siya Kolisi — He was busy without being outstanding. This was his least impressive game since his comeback from injury a month ago (5).

5 Marvin Orie — A workmanlike performance without ever shooting out the lights. But he gets through so much work. (6.5)

4 Eben Etzebeth — Typically powerful in the collisions but maybe not as exceptional in general play as he usually is. (6).

3 Vincent Koch — In his first action at the World Cup, he carried busily and got involved repeatedly. Strong game. (7)

2 Deon Fourie — His defence was outstanding. He brought down the big Tongan forwards at their ankles. He burrowed over for a nicely taken maul try. His lineout delivery was perfect. The best Bok on the night. (9)

1 Ox Nche — His tackling at close quarter was very good. The loosehead thrived in the forward exchanges and was busy in the loose. (7)


Jesse Kriel — He came on for Mapimpi after 20 minutes and showed his versatility by playing exceptionally on the wing. His try was very well taken. (8).

Manie Libbok: Came on for Pollard and immediately kicked over the conversion of the try by Willie le Roux. He sparked attacks and perhaps confirmed that he is the Boks’ best attacking option at 10. (8).

Marco van Staden — He came on for Kolisi and his barnstorming finish for his try was impressive. He is such a valuable player. (7)

Kwagga Smith — He made a big impact and was well rewarded with his try in the game's final act. (7).