Six former Springboks on what changes Allister Coetzee should make for the second Test against Ireland at Ellis Park.
Breyton Paulse (former Bok wing)
'Allister Coetzee has to make some tough decisions, because the experienced players in the squad didn’t show much on Saturday. However, you don’t want to make too many changes, because you don’t want to drop players before they get a second chance to prove themselves. Having said that, there are certainly one or two changes I would make. I would bring Jaco Kriel, Ruan Combrinck and Julian Redelinghuys into the starting lineup, as well as Warren Whiteley, who played really well when he came on at Newlands. I’m sure those guys are hungry to play and they’ll be playing at their home ground on Saturday.'
Cobus Visagie (former Bok tighthead prop)
'It's too early to make big calls on the squad. The team has not been together for long and I do think Allister has the man-management skills to develop and take this team forward. However, it's not just a personnel issue. What happened in the Test against Ireland at Newlands is a reflection of the standard of our Super Rugby teams. With our performance in Super Rugby, I don't know how we could have expected a much better performance from the Boks. The problems in South African rugby are structural in nature, so you can't expect the current coaching staff to overcome them at the first attempt, not with most of our best players based overseas.'
Corné Krige (former Bok flank)
‘I don’t think Allister should make massive changes. I don’t think the loss was a result of them playing extremely badly, and not being able to win a Test match, I think it was them being a new team playing together and Ireland having already played five Tests this year. They were a much better, close-knit unit than we were on the day. I’d try and leave the team the same as much as possible, but maybe bring Pieter-Steph du Toit into the starting XV, because he had a very good game when he came on. I'd try and get some stability and unity within the squad. It’s a matter of letting the new guys settle into their new combinations and testing them over a period of time and seeing what happens before you make any changes. In my opinion it wasn’t as if any individuals played really poorly. Collectively we need to improve, and work on understanding each other a bit better and working harder for each other on defence and attack.'
Stefan Terblanche (former Bok fullback)
‘Elton Jantjies, who seems to be fit after the injury to his finger, will be an automatic replacement for Pat Lambie at flyhalf. But I don’t think Allister should be making wholesale changes, even after Saturday’s disappointing performance. I know we’re all emotional about the Springboks losing at home to the Irish for the first time, but it is a new coach and a new team. Apart from any further injuries, or maybe Pieter-Steph du Toit who made an impact when he came on, I think Allister should give the guys another chance. They know they didn’t play as well as they can and certainly didn’t play to their full potential. It’s a new start, and a new opportunity, and I’m sure they’ll know the enormity of the task at hand to try and save this Test series against the Irish, so motivation shouldn’t be an issue. This is their opportunity to rectify last week’s performance.’
Pieter Hendriks (former Bok wing)
‘Unfortunately Allister has already announced his captain for the series, so he’ll have to stick with Adriaan Strauss at hooker. But I feel he needs to look to the future and bring in a youngster like Malcolm Marx and see what he can do. I also don’t believe in picking players just because SA Rugby has contracted them. If there are in-form players who have the talent they should be picked for the Boks. I would like to see Lions inside centre Rohan Janse van Rensburg playing for the Boks alongside Lionel Mapoe. Janse van Rensburg can play the expansive game, he can make contact, has the skills and the speed, and understands the new brand of rugby Allister wants to play. Had he played alongside Mapoe at Newlands we would have seen how brilliant Mapoe really is. I would start Julian Redelinghuys in the front row ahead of Frans Malherbe, Pieter-Steph du Toit ahead of Lood de Jager, and bring Franco Mostert onto the bench. In the loose forwards I’d start Jaco Kriel ahead of Francois Louw and Warren Whiteley ahead of Duane Vermeulen – I think Louw and Vermeulen aren’t as well conditioned as they were a year or two ago. Vermeulen can always be brought on as a replacement should there be a problem. I’d keep Faf de Klerk at scrumhalf, with Elton Jantjies at flyhalf, and Janse van Rensburg and Lionel Mapoe in the midfield. I'd start Ruan Combrinck, who has been the in-form wing in the country and should have started last Saturday, and move JP Pietersen to the bench.'
Thinus Delport (former Bok fullback)
‘I’d like to see Pieter-Steph du Toit get a start, with Lood de Jager used as an impact player off the bench. I’m a big fan of Lood, but Pieter-Steph has had an outstanding Super Rugby season and has a settled second-row partnership with Eben Etzebeth. Jaco Kriel should start at openside flank, as Francois Louw has just finished a long, hard Premiership season. Kriel will inject more pace into the game and make a big difference not just at the breakdown but as a ball-carrying option. In the backline, I would have loved to see Pat Lambie at fullback and Elton Jantjies at flyhalf for the second Test, just to balance our tactical kicking game. But Lambie is not available, so we’ll have to stick with Willie le Roux. But Allister Coetzee must find space for Ruan Combrinck somewhere in that back three. He boasts a better tactical-kicking game and will give the team more of an attacking edge than Willie, Lwazi Mvovo or JP Pietersen. Ellis Park is Combrinck and Kriel’s home ground, they’ve shown more than once how effective they can be there. A lot has been said about the Bok midfield, but we have to be patient with Damian de Allende and Lionel Mapoe.'
Interviews by Tyrone Engel & Mariette Adams
Photo: Luke Walker/Gallo Images