Ahead of this Saturday’s Rugby Championship clash in Wellington, JON CARDINELLI and CRAIG LEWIS speculate as to who will feature in the Bok backline against the All Blacks.
Cardinelli – I’d be surprised if Rassie Erasmus didn’t start the players who are already in New Zealand. Frans Steyn is a stronger bet to start the big games at the World Cup, as he offers more attacking and kicking options as well as a wealth of experience.
Steyn won’t have much time to recover from jetlag in the buildup to Saturday’s game, though, and it’s for this reason that Damian de Allende is a better choice. Handré Pollard, De Allende and Lukhanyo Am comprised the preferred 10-12-13 combination in the Rugby Championship last year.
It will be interesting to see who Erasmus favours in the back three. Willie le Roux and Cheslin Kolbe look set to start, and it would make sense to include Sbu Nkosi for his strength under the high ball.
Makazole Mapimpi himself has admitted that Nkosi is among the better South African wings in this facet of play. The Boks should expect a few garryowens and kick-passes by an All Blacks side renowned for its kicking game.
Prediction: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Cheslin Kolbe, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk.
Lewis – In a sense, this Bok backline should pretty much pick itself, with a host of first-choice regulars having been kept out of action with the primary intention of heading into this Saturday’s Test well rested and battle ready.
That’s not to say that a couple of players wouldn’t have given Rassie Erasmus some food for thought in the Rugby Championship opener. Herschel Jantjies was outstanding, but his selection battle is more for a bench spot at this stage.
Meanwhile, Frans Steyn enjoyed a solid cameo in the second half against Australia. For me, it’s more wishful thinking than a case of probable selection, but what an opportunity this could be to elevate Steyn into a starting role and allow him to pick up where he left off.
In the absence of injured Aphiwe Dyantyi, there are just three specialist wings in the squad. I’d like to see Makazole Mapimpi get another run on the left wing after limited opportunities against the Wallabies, while Kolbe is more comfortable in the No 14 jersey.
Prediction: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk.
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