Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus has suggested this Saturday’s Test against Argentina will be ‘make or break’ for some World Cup hopefuls. CRAIG LEWIS picks five who will have plenty to prove.
At Wednesday’s team announcement, where Erasmus named a largely experimental side to face the Pumas in the Boks’ penultimate World Cup warm-up game, the coach hinted that he was around 80% certain of the makeup of his squad to travel to Japan.
The final World Cup group will be announced on 26 August, and here we look at a handful of players who will be desperate to produce a performance that will secure their ticket to Japan:
Due to his utility value that makes him capable of playing across all back-row positions, Coetzee must already be considered a strong contender to earn inclusion in the Boks’ 31-man World Cup squad. However, he only received a limited run off the bench in the Rugby Championship opener against Australia. This is now an opportunity for Erasmus to see what Coetzee can offer at No 8, which is a key position where the Boks do need some backup to Duane Vermeulen. A strong performance from the 28-year-old will further solidify his claim for a World Cup berth.
The Northampton Saints star looks set to travel to the World Cup as one of the three scrumhalves. This Saturday’s clash should not really be a case of ‘make or break’ for Reinach, but it will be his first Test start since 2014. If he can produce a standout performance, it will provide Erasmus with plenty to think about when it comes to selecting the replacement scrumhalf to Faf de Klerk in the World Cup match-day 23s.
Lood de Jager
This is a massive match for De Jager. Over the last year and a half, the hulking lock has only managed to feature in three Tests, starting just one. Injuries have not been kind to De Jager, and it’s put something of a question mark over his World Cup berth that would have been seen as a sure bet not all that long ago. With Franco Mostert viewed as the first-choice No 5, and the likes of Pieter-Steph du Toit and RG Snyman able to provide cover at 5, it could be that De Jager is ultimately deemed surplus to requirements. But with that in mind, he will be determined to produce a barnstorming performance on Saturday.
For the mobile Saracens prop, this will be his first Test start since 2016. In that context, and when one considers just how much competition there is in the Boks’ prop stocks, Koch will want to deliver a display that further enhances his reputation at this key stage of the season. At the moment, Trevor Nyakane and Frans Malherbe are battling it out for the No 3 jersey, but Koch now has an opportunity to send out a timely reminder that Erasmus cannot afford to leave him at home.
Thomas du Toit
For most of this Test season, Du Toit has flown under the radar, and has yet to feature for the Boks in 2019 after earning all nine of his Test caps last year. However, Du Toit suddenly shoots back into the starting lineup, and it’s certainly an interesting selection. What Du Toit has going for him is that he can be considered a ‘swinger’ prop who is capable of playing on both sides of the scrum. If Erasmus now views Nyakane as a specialist tighthead, and is inclined to take just five props to the World Cup, Du Toit would add massive value due to his utility tag. With that in mind, he needs a big performance on Saturday.
Photo: Getty Images