SARugbymag.co.za looks at the players to watch as the Springboks and Argentina face off in a Rugby Championship first-round showdown in Gqerberha on Saturday.
One of six changes to the Springbok backline, Damian Willemse will make just his third Test start as he replaces Willie le Roux at fullback.
It doesn’t need to be said how influential Le Roux in the Springboks’ attacking gameplan, so Willemse will have big shoes to fill against an aggressive Argentina defence.
The 23-year-old Stormers player has been utilised as a utility back off Bok the bench, a role he particularly embraced during the British & Irish Lions series, filling in at centre and even wing.
On Saturday, he will get an opportunity to show his stuff in what many perceive to be his best position.
Another change in an all-new back three – including winger Sbu Nkosi – Aphelele Fassi has an opportunity to build on his stunning debut against Georgia last month.
In that game, not only did he score with his first touch in Test rugby, but he also set up another try and looked like the Boks’ most dangerous back in a man-of-the-match performance.
However, Saturday’s Test will give a more realistic view of whether Fassi can translate his performances for the Sharks to playing against a top-tier Test team.
In a fresh midfield partnership with Frans Steyn, Jesse Kriel add some experience to a revamped backline.
Kriel looked tidy in his first start since 2019 against Georgia, carrying the ball well and making some clean passes on his outside while also effectively organising the Bok defence.
Replacing Lukhanyo Am, who was genuinely world class against the Lions, Kriel will have take up the mantle as the team’s defensive captain, but will be sternly tested as Argentina boast some deadly attacking players.
Bordeaux hooker Joseph Dweba will make a starting debut for the Springboks as he replaces Bongi Mbonambi in the No 2 jersey.
The 25-year-old started when South Africa A claimed a morale-boosting 17-13 win over the British & Irish Lions in a midweek match, and even in that brief stint he showed just why the Bok coaches have brought the France-based forward into the mix.
With his burly frame, the powerful hooker is a formidable tight forward, boasting mobility, physicality and plenty of X-factor.
Arguably the Argentinian back to watch, Toulon centre Santiago Chocobares brings a new dimension to the Pumas’ midfield.
The 22-year-old is a different type of centre to the playmakers that Argentina generally have in that position. Chocobares is incredibly direct in his play and is often used as a direct target-setter running off the flyhalf, but he also boasts the skill to keep the ball alive in the tackle and release support players.
Together with Jeronimo de le Fuente, he has added plenty to Argentina’s defensive game, putting in some big hits in the recent series against Wales.
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