Jesse Kriel is likely to start at outside centre and Warren Whiteley at No 8 when the Springboks tackle the World XV at Newlands. JON CARDINELLI reports.
The Boks are short of No 13 options. Jaque Fourie’s conditioning is not yet up to the required standard. Captain Jean de Villiers is back in action after recovering from a serious knee injury, but is only expected to play 20 minutes of the game against the World XV.
On Tuesday, Kriel and De Villiers took turns running at outside centre. It’s likely that Kriel will be handed a starting opportunity this weekend, while De Villiers will come off the bench in the second half.
‘This is the perfect game in which to try a few things,’ said Bok forwards and attack coach Johann van Graan. ‘Jesse is a very explosive player with a lot of speed. If he gets selected, I would be excited to see what he could do.
‘Jesse has done a great job for the Bulls at fullback this season. He did make an impact at No 13 for the SA U20s [in 2014]. I really believe that he can become a world-class player [in that position].’
Whiteley and Schalk Burger alternated at No 8 throughout Tuesday’s session, although it appears the Lions loose forward has the inside lane to start. The Boks are currently without their first choice No 8, Duane Vermeulen, who has been ruled out for the next 10 weeks with a neck injury.
‘Duane is a world-class player, but we have planned for this, and someone else will now get an opportunity,' said Van Graan. 'Warren had a fantastic season for the Lions and brings a lot to that No 8 position. Schalk can play No 8 too, and has shown over the last year or so what he can do for the Boks.
‘We've lost a player like Duane who can steal on the ground, but these other players will bring a new dynamic. Warren has been fantastic at the lineouts for the Lions. If he is selected to start for the first time, I’m sure he will do well.’
Francois Louw and Marcell Coetzee are likely to partner Whiteley in the starting back row, with Burger covering loose forward and Oupa Mohoje covering flank and lock from the bench. Tighthead prop Vincent Koch is set to play his first game for South Africa this Saturday.
In other team news, Pat Lambie sustained a cut to the eye during the warm-ups of Tuesday's session. Van Graan confirmed that the Bok flyhalf had to go to the hospital to receive stitches. The Bok medical team will know more about Lambie’s condition on Wednesday.
Possible Springbok starting XV – 15 Willie le Roux, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Francois Louw, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Victor Matfield (c), 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Beast Mtawarira.
Photo: Grant Pitcher/Gallo Images