The move to start Duane Vermeulen and Handré Pollard should lead to an improved physical and tactical performance against France, writes JON CARDINELLI in London.
Allister Coetzee will name his side for the second Test of the tour at 16:00 SA time today. A couple of enforced changes, and at least a couple of unforced selections, are expected.
Duane Vermeulen will come in for Pieter-Steph du Toit, who has been ruled out due to concussion. Vermeulen will start at No 8, though. Francois Louw will move to blindside flank.
The likely back-row combination will feature the same three players who started in Vermeulen’s last Test against Ireland in Johannesburg last year. On that occasion, however, Louw was at No 6 and Siya Kolisi at 7.
Coenie Oosthuizen’s tour-ending injury should see Wilco Louw starting at tighthead. Ruan Dreyer should come onto the bench as cover. That said, the Boks have also expressed their confidence in Trevor Nyakane as a prop who can play both loosehead and tighthead.
Coetzee’s biggest call may be a new 10-12 combination. Pollard is expected to start at flyhalf as Coetzee opts for a more composed and tactically astute pivot.
Francois Venter could replace Damian de Allende, who was woefully off the pace in Dublin last week. Venter, typically a No 13, hasn’t started a Test at inside centre to date.
The Bok back three struggled under the high ball on a wet night at the Aviva Stadium. That said, given the lack of experienced fullbacks and wingers on tour, Coetzee is unlikely to make changes in this department.
A left-field selection may have seen 20-year-old Curwin Bosch slotting in at fullback. That may have made sense if the Boks were looking to build some depth ahead of the 2019 World Cup.
At this stage, after a run that includes three losses and two draws, Coetzee looks set to stick with relatively experienced players as the side aims to claim that elusive victory in northern hemisphere conditions.
Probable Springboks – 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Dillyn Leyds, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Francois Louw, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Beast Mtawarira.
Subs: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Ruan Dreyer, 19 Franco Mostert, 20 Uzair Cassiem, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Elton Jantjies, 23 Damian de Allende.
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