You could argue that over the last 20 years that the traditional blindside role has undergone a number of variations, not least a period when we had flankers who, in terms of skills and effectiveness, were jacks-of-all-trades but masters of none.
However, in essence, the qualities required at blindside remain the same as they ever were – especially on a Lions tour of South Africa. Paramount among them is having a blindside with the physical presence to go toe-to-toe with a Springbok back row in which there is always a premium on size and power.
South African back-row trios have an unchanging profile of being big, mobile, and aggressive – and there are clear signals that it will be no different on the 2021 Lions tour.
The Springbok back row picked against England in the 2019 World Cup final was typical in that it featured two imposing flankers. The bigger of them, Pieter-Steph du Toit, who was crowned World Rugby Player of the Year, is an athletic 6ft 7ins giant who weighs-in at just under 19 stone (120kg), while the smaller is Siya Kolisi, the World Cup-winning Springbok captain, who is 6ft 2ins and 15st 8lbs (99kg).
Du Toit emerged from the World Cup as a key component in South Africa’s success not just because of his mobility and tackling prowess, but also for his close-quarter power and non-stop work ethic in what we consider to be the blindside role.
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