Masi vs Goosen

Two fullbacks with contrasting levels of experience will clash in Padova on Saturday, writes BRENTON CHELIN.

Johan Goosen will make his first start in the No 15 jersey against Italy on Saturday. It's a position that he has filled on the odd occasion for Racing Métro this season, and one that could prove a long-term option for the supremely talented youngster from Bloemfontein.

Heyneke Meyer and the Bok coaching staff have made no secret their intention to employ him there during the end-of-year tour and, given the embarrassment of riches in the flyhalf position, it could prove a shrewd move by the Boks. Goosen has all the attributes to succeed at the back – vision on attack, great distribution and a prodigious boot.

His direct opposite on Saturday, Andrea Masi, has 82 Test caps. Having started out as a hard-running centre, Masi knows all about adapting his game to suit the needs of the team. His progression to a dependable No 15 has been steady, and Masi will provide a calm head at the back for Italy in the face of an expected Bok onslaught.

Goosen has been handed the opportunity to play himself into the World Cup squad with a solid showing on Saturday. Against an Italian side that's likely to be overwhelmed up front, he should get plenty of opportunities to impress. What the Bok selectors will be looking for is clarity of thought and an ability to execute under pressure, something that has all too often eluded Goosen with the No 10 on his back.

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