Bok changes expected for Mendoza clash

Rassie Erasmus will make ‘four or five changes’ to the Springbok side ahead of the Test against Argentina in Mendoza next Saturday. JON CARDINELLI reports from Durban.

The Boks scored a 34-21 bonus-point victory over Argentina on Saturday. They were especially dominant in the second stanza, winning the forward battles and scoring four tries during this period.

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Some might suggest that the same combination deserves to be backed in the next fixture in Mendoza. After the clash in Durban, however, the Bok coach highlighted the fact that the Pumas are a different beast in Argentina and a change in personnel and tactics may be required.

‘We’re expecting a massive onslaught next week, and it will be a very different kind of challenge. I expect there will be four or five changes to our side,’ Erasmus said.

‘We will only travel to Argentina on Monday, and I think that the extra day for recovery will do us good. We will have to deal with jet lag once we get there, though.’

It will be interesting to see if Erasmus makes any changes to his back row. Marco van Staden made his Test debut from the bench in Durban, slotting in alongside Siya Kolisi and Warren Whiteley. Erasmus has spoken recently about playing Van Staden and Francois Louw, two specialist opensiders, in the same loose trio, though.

‘There were a few hiccups with the loose trio [at Kings Park], but I think it’s a combination that has a good future. We have some good options at the moment if you remember that Duane Vermeulen will return [in November, after fulfilling club commitments in Japan] and Cyle Brink will return in future from injury.

‘We can add some bulk to the back row in future if the situation demands it. However, there will be times, as was the case in this game, when you need speed in your back row. That speed helped us on this occasion.’

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Erasmus had planned to introduce Damian Willemse at fullback in the second half of Saturday’s game. In the end, Willemse came off the bench and slotted in at first-receiver, with Handré Pollard shifting to No 12.

Perhaps Erasmus will give Willemse this opportunity in Mendoza next week.

‘I wanted to get Damian on at 15, but the game was too tight. I also felt that Willie le Roux was the senior guy in the back three and that he was doing well there. It may have been too risky to take him off at that stage.’

The Boks will announce the squad for the Argentina leg of the Rugby Championship on Sunday.

Photo: @Springboks/Twitter

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Jon Cardinelli