Battered stars should be rested and fringe players must receive a chance to shine when the Springboks tackle the USA on Wednesday, writes JON CARDINELLI in London.
They’re calling it a four-day turnaround, but in reality, the Boks will have even less time to prepare for their fourth and final pool match against the Eagles.
The squad spent much of Sunday in transit from Newcastle to London. The players will train for the first time on Monday afternoon. Thereafter, at 6pm South African time, coach Heyneke Meyer will name the 23 for Wednesday’s clash.
Victor Matfield is yet to be cleared of a hamstring injury, and is unlikely to be pushed to play in this match. Fourie du Preez should continue as the team captain in Matfield’s absence.
On Sunday, team doctor Craig Roberts confirmed that JP Pietersen is the biggest injury concern at present. The winger twisted his knee in last Saturday’s match against Scotland. If he is unable to play, Lwazi Mvovo could come straight into the starting lineup.
Frans Malherbe may get the nod ahead of Jannie du Plessis at tighthead prop. While Du Plessis has been battling a knee injury of his own over the past week or so, it’s his discipline that’s really let him down. The Bok No 3 was shown a yellow card for foul play at St James’ Park last Saturday.
Meyer has said that players who transgress so recklessly will be punished. The decision should be made easier by the fact that Du Plessis is not fully fit, and that Malherbe has impressed at this World Cup when he’s been deployed from the bench.
Trevor Nyakane is another player who deserves a start in the front row following some industrious performances from the bench. Coenie Oosthuizen and Schalk Brits should be included in the match-day squad to allow the Du Plessis brothers a rest before the play-offs.
The game represents a great opportunity to start Willem Alberts at blindside flank. Schalk Burger has been carrying a minor pectoral injury and should not be risked in a game of this nature. On the other hand, Alberts has just returned from a calf injury, and is desperate for game time.
Meyer has some big calls at 10, 12 and 13. Du Preez and Handré Pollard have thrived as a halfback combination, and the latter is finally starting to hit his stride. Damian de Allende and Jesse Kriel have featured as the starting midfield combination just once at this World Cup. Meyer may want the pair to build some more momentum before the play-offs.
The Boks need to win this Wednesday to clinch first place in Pool B. A single log point is all that separates the Boks and Scotland at this stage.
Photo: Juan Mabromata/AFP