Ahead of this Saturday’s final in Yokohama, CRAIG LEWIS and JOHN GOLIATH pick the Bok back three they’d like to see play against England.
Lewis (editor) – Cheslin Kolbe’s return to fitness is a massive boost for the Boks ahead of the final. The spark that the pocket rocket offers was sorely missed against Wales last weekend, while S’bu Nkosi did show some signs of rustiness when it came to slotting into the team’s defensive system.
There should be little hesitation in bringing Kolbe back onto the right wing, and a key factor for the Boks will surely be to bring him into action as much as possible this Saturday.
Of course, the big talking point revolves around out-of-form fullback Willie le Roux, who is desperately still searching for his missing mojo.
When looking at the bigger picture, though, Le Roux is integral to the Boks’ defensive system, and his experience and organisation at fullback is something that generally goes unappreciated.
Furthermore, did anyone provide Le Roux with due credit for his decision to redirect play and then set Damian de Allende for the game-defining try against Wales?
Ultimately, I’d have little hesitation in a move for minimal disruption, while backing the experienced Le Roux to come good when the Boks need it most.
The back three I’d pick: 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 15 Willie le Roux.
Goliath (senior contributor) – I feel for Willie le Roux. I really do.
In 2018 he was one of the Boks’ best players and had a massive hand in their win over the All Blacks in Wellington. At his best he is a wonderfully creative player, who can spark an attack or score the decisive try.
But this year he has struggled for form. He looks hesitant and unsure of himself. His option-taking hasn’t been great and has been poor under the high ball, especially at this World Cup.
The above-mentioned clip brilliantly illustrates his wonderful ability, but those actions have been few and far in between at this World Cup. It’s why I’m taking the bold decision to drop the fullback for the final.
It’s probably a long shot, as Rassie Erasmus is unlikely to tinker with his team, but I’d rather have Cheslin Kolbe in the No 15 jersey. Kolbe has all the skills and a player who can create a lot of havoc from the back. He is also the Boks’ best backline player under the high ball and has got an underrated kicking game.
Sbu Nkosi, who would be my right wing, also has a knack for scoring tries against England. He was brilliant in the 2-1 home series win last year, while he also scored a spectacular try at Twickenham last November.
Le Roux is a top, top player when he is in the mood. But at the moment he is struggling with form and confidence. The Boks can’t afford to go into a World Cup final with passengers. There is just too much as stake.
The back three I’d pick: 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 15 Cheslin Kolbe.
Photo: Steve Haag Sports via Hollywoodbets