Ahead of this Saturday’s Rugby Championship clash in Salta, JON CARDINELLI and CRAIG LEWIS speculate as to who will feature in the Bok pack against Argentina.
Cardinelli – Rassie Erasmus should pick his strongest available pack to ensure that the Boks obtain the desired result – and ultimately a first title in 10 years. That said, there should be an opportunity to experiment further at No 6 this Saturday while first-choice opensider Siya Kolisi makes his comeback via the Currie Cup.
Personally, I’d like to see Erasmus striking a balance in selection. The Bok coach knows what he has in the first-choice back-row combination of Duane Vermeulen, Pieter-Steph du Toit and Kolisi, and he knows that Francois Louw can cover No 6 and 8. Kwagga Smith had his chance to shine against the All Blacks. Surely it’s time that Marcell Coetzee received a similar opportunity?
Lood de Jager needs game time and the Bok lineout would certainly benefit from his inclusion. Experienced warriors such as Beast Mtawarira and Eben Etzebeth will add value in what should be a combative contest in Argentina – although the likes of Steven Kitshoff and RG Snyman could make an impact late in the game.
Erasmus has a big call to make at tighthead. This game could present Frans Malherbe with one final chance to make a statement at the scrums and around the park.
Prediction: 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Beast Mtawarira.
Lewis – Word out of the Bok camp seems to suggest that Erasmus will be backing his strongest available lineup this week, while reserving any temptation of experimentation for next weekend’s penultimate World Cup warm-up game against Argentina.
That said, Springbok assistant coach Matt Proudfoot did say on Monday that the Boks would be making ‘brave calls’ in preparation for Saturday’s clash in Salta.
These Rugby Championship battles in Argentina have never been particularly memorable outings for the Springboks, and so it will be very interesting to see how they look to go about dismantling the Pumas in search of a rare Championship title.
I don’t see any real value in adding any more mileage to the legs of Pieter-Steph du Toit, and don’t reckon the Boks would lose much by handing Marcell Coetzee a run at blindside flank as he looks to book a World Cup berth.
Similarly, Kwagga Smith enjoyed a solid outing against the All Blacks in Wellington, but he needs more game time in a high-pressure Test situation, so I’d hope to see him continue at openside flank.
A first-choice lock combination of Eben Etzebeth and Franco Mostert may well be expected, but in the front row, it’s undoubtedly time to see Trevor Nyakane rewarded with a rare start at tighthead prop.
Prediction: 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Marcell Coetzee, 6 Kwagga Smith, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
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