In selecting his team for this Sunday’s quarter-final in Tokyo, former Bok hooker JAMES DALTON would opt to start Cobus Reinach at scrumhalf and Cheslin Kolbe at fullback.
At the end of the day, World Cups are tournaments of form, not tournaments dictated by history or rankings or hemispheres. And so, in selecting the 23 to start the Springboks’ finals journey, form should be the main point of reference.
Unfortunately this might upset some of the senior players who have been firing below their pay wage, seemingly complacent in their selection this year. The two main culprits have been Willie le Roux and Faf de Klerk, who I would omit from my squad to face Japan.
I said in the beginning of the tournament, it’s the team that is best able to adapt to the conditions, style and culture of rugby in Japan that will have the best chance of winning the tournament. The team is compromised of the players, though, and so it is the players who have best adapted and performed thus far that will benefit the team dynamic most. Not the players trading on previous form.
The Springboks should blow Japan away by 20-30 points purely on the quality of their side, but Japan are on a roll of confidence and form and the only way to ensure the result that should play out, is for us, too, to back form.
De Klerk, playing as an individual in a role so critical to the team, has been off form. His delivery has been slow, his box kicks off the mark and his communication seems non-existent with the wings and flyhalf.
Le Roux on the other hand, has looked a yard off the pace the entire tournament, has lacked in his defining creativity and has been poor as a last line of defence.
Another omission in my team that may shock is Malcolm Marx, but as I’ve mentioned previously, while his 2017 season garners him a presence, his current form doesn’t earn him a spot above either Bongi Mbonambi or Schalk Brits.
Bearing form and consistency in mind, the 23-man squad I would field in the quarter-final is as follows:
1. Steven Kitshoff
2. Bongi Mbonambi
3. Frans Malherbe
4. Eben Etzebeth
5. Franco Mostert
6. Siya Kolisi
7. Pieter-Steph Du Toit
8. Duane Vermeulen
9. Cobus Reinach
10. Handre Pollard
11. Makazole Mapimpi
12. Frans Steyn
13. Lukhanyo Am
14. S’bu Nkosi
15. Cheslin Kolbe
Subs: 16 Vincent Koch, 17 Tendai (Beast) Mtawarira, 18 Schalk Brits, 19 RG Snyman, 20 Francois Louw, 21 Herschel Jantjies, 22 Damian Willemse, 23 Damian de Allende.
Photo: Steve Haag Sports via Hollywoodbets