Ahead of this Saturday’s Rugby Championship finale in Salta, MARIETTE ADAMS and DYLAN JACK speculate as to who will feature in the Bok backline against Argentina.
Adams – With the World Cup looming large, the Rugby Championship seems to have been shifted into the background. But the fact remains that the Championship title is still up for grabs and with the Springboks in the inside lane in the three-way race, coach Rassie Erasmus has to select a strong lineup to front Los Pumas.
Argentina might be languishing at the foot of the table following an unexpected poor Championship campaign to far, but they are a different beast when playing at home in front of their passionate fan base – that much was evident during their Test against the All Blacks three weeks ago.
With that in mind, it’s hard to see Erasmus making any significant changes to South Africa’s backline. That said, Frans Steyn – who played for 28 and 24 minutes against the Wallabies and All Blacks respectively – has made a positive impact when he came on on both occasions.
With so many others set to receive game time in the World Cup warm-up against Argentina on 17 August, Steyn should (deservedly) get a start this week.
There is an injury concern for Faf de Klerk, but if he has recovered from the concussion he sustained against the All Blacks, he should retain his place at scrumhalf.
Prediction: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk.
Jack – It would surprising to see too many changes, if any, from the backline that fronted the All Blacks in Wellington.
Rassie Erasmus has been clear on how important winning the Rugby Championship would be for his side as it would be the Boks’ first piece of silverware since 2009. Further, claiming the trophy would be a major mental boost for the team ahead of the World Cup.
With a friendly against the same opponents to come next weekend at Loftus, Erasmus can still select his strongest lineup for this game and leave the experimentation for Pretoria. Here he could hand the likes of Frans Steyn, Sbu Nkosi, Elton Jantjies and Jesse Kriel more game time.
Makazole Mapimpi did come under fire for a defensive error that led to the Boks conceding the All Blacks’ only try of the match, but that was more due the hosts finding a way around the South Africans’ defensive structures than anything else.
The only real question mark surrounds Faf de Klerk after the scrumhalf went off with a concussion against the All Blacks. While De Klerk has had the bye week to recover, there is no need to rush him back into action, especially as Herschel Jantjies proved more than a capable replacement last weekend.
Prediction: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Herschel Jantjies.
Photo: EPA/Kim Ludbrook