Former Bok flank Rob Louw says it's too soon for Oupa Mohoje to start a top-level Test. BRENTON CHELIN reports.
The 24-year-old Cheetahs flank is expected to wear the Bok No 7 jersey against the Wallabies at Newlands on Saturday.
Mohoje has been on the periphery of the Bok squad during the first four rounds of the Rugby Championship. A member of the original squad, he has seen first Juan Smith and later Warren Whiteley move above him in the pecking order during the overseas leg of the competition.
The injury to Francois Louw, who was ruled out of the rest of the Rugby Championship last week with a pinched nerve in his neck, could see him get the chance to add to the solitary Springbok cap he won against Scotland in June.
With a number of Boks still finding their way in Test rugby, Heyneke Meyer has taken a more conservative approach with Mohoje. Rob Louw believes the Bok coach has managed the situation well.
'I understand what Heyneke is trying to do, to bring him in slowly and not put too much pressure on him,' said Louw, who played 19 Tests for the Boks. 'I saw him play last year for Kovsies in the Varsity Cup and he was brilliant. I think he's got a lot of potential as a player, but I think it's a bit soon for him to be playing top-level Test rugby.'
Mohoje was still playing Varsity Cup rugby earlier this year, before rising to prominence with the Cheetahs during Super Rugby, where he won 10 caps. Despite his undoubted talent, Louw believes that a starting role might be a case of too much, too soon.
'I think sometimes we're guilty of throwing talented young players in before they're ready. Perhaps using him off the bench might be the better option.'
Schalk Burger has been drafted into the squad as cover for the injured Louw. He's been playing his rugby over in Japan, but was always a consideration for the home leg of the competition. Despite a tough couple years for the combative flanker, Louw thinks he still has plenty to offer South African rugby.
'Schalk offers us another dimension. He reads the game so well and could even cover at No 8,' said Louw, before suggesting a possible reshuffle of the back row, with Burger at No 8 and Duane Vermeulen fulfulling the blindside role.
'I worry a bit about the amount of rugby that Duane has played already this season. He's a world-class eighthman and he's become so important to the way the Springboks play. Perhaps you bring him off with 30 minutes to go and keep him fresh for the final match against the All Blacks.'
Probable Springbok team – 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Jan Serfontein, 12 Jean de Villiers, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Teboho Mohoje, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Subs: 16 Bismarck du Plessis, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Marcel van der Merwe, 19 Lood de Jager, 20 Schalk Burger, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 JP Pietersen.
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