Carr set for first Test start?

Nizaam Carr could be in line to start at openside flank when the Springboks take on Italy in Florence this Saturday.

The Boks have arrived in Italy under immense pressure after claiming just a solitary win from their last six Tests, with last weekend’s 37-21 defeat to England proving to be the latest in a long line of disappointing results this season.

Afterwards, Allister Coetzee intimated that he would consider making some personnel changes if need be, but the word out of the Bok camp this week suggests there aren’t likely to be wholesale alterations as they desperately go in search of a much-needed victory.

There will have to be at least one change, though, with Eben Etzebeth having been ruled out of this weekend’s Test with a concussion. His absence is likely to see Pieter-Steph du Toit revert to the second row, with the 24-year-old having looked rather uncomfortable in his makeshift role at blindside flank last Saturday.

That move could then see Willem Alberts move back to his preferred role at No 7, with Carr then the probable candidate to come in at openside flank.

Although Carr is not a specialist openside, it should be recalled that when he earned his first Bok call-up for the 2014 end-of-year tour, it came on the back of an outstanding Super Rugby season where he did impress in that role.

Allister Coetzee said he had been impressed by Carr's impact off the bench against England last weekend, while assistant coach Johann van Graan has reiterated that they are preparing to face a fierce contest at the breakdown on Saturday.

‘We’ve been monitoring Italy the entire year and they pose a different threat to England,' Van Graan commented. 'They don’t play as much rugby as England‚ they use a long kicking game to pin you back‚ they have a strong scrum‚ which they use to manipulate penalties and most crucially, they are a leg-tackling side.

‘Last weekend against England we faced a lot of upper-body tackles‚ but the leg tackles with the second man in over the ball makes them a breakdown threat. And in captain and No 8 Sergio Parisse, they have one of the best players in the world who is a talisman for them. So, we are not underestimating them.’

The Bok team will be named at 15:00 on Thursday, with Bryan Habana also believed to be in line for a return at the expense of Ruan Combrinck.

Photo: Craig Mercer/CameraSport

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Craig Lewis