The SA Rugby magazine team identify what they would love to see come out of the second round of the Rugby Championship.
Craig Lewis (digital/print editor) hopes to see Kwagga Smith produce a blinder against the All Blacks
There have been enduring question marks over whether the former Blitzboks superstar can make a successful transition to the 15-man game. Suddenly, he has a golden opportunity on one of the most demanding Test stages to prove that he is more than capable of becoming a mainstay in the Springbok team.
Last year, Smith made his Bok debut in the one-off Test against Wales before falling by the wayside. However, he ramped up his performances for the Lions in Vodacom Super Rugby, and has done enough to win favour with Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus, who has said he is very keen to see what Smith can deliver in a big Test match.
Well, they don’t come much bigger than a battle against the world champs on home soil, but the irrepressible Smith doesn’t seem like the sort of player who would be daunted in any way by such a prospect.
Jon Cardinelli (chief writer) wants the Boks to produce a performance that echoes through to the World Cup.
Remember last year? Remember how worried we all were that the Boks might cop another 50-point hiding at the hands of the All Blacks?
Rassie Erasmus’ side produced the upset of the season when they beat the No 1-ranked side in Wellington. Then they proved that the performance in New Zealand was no fluke when they pushed the All Blacks all the way in the next fixture in Pretoria.
It’s vital that the Boks produce a similar showing at the Cake Tin on Saturday. A win would be ideal. A strong performance, however, is non-negotiable.
Both teams will be looking to take some confidence and momentum into the all-important World Cup pool meeting in Yokohama on 21 September. The Boks have to keep the All Blacks – who are favourites to win a third-successive title in Japan – in check.
Dylan Jack (staff writer) hopes Damian de Allende and Lukhanyo Am silence their naysayers.
As he did in Wellington last year, De Allende will line up alongside Am in what appears to be the Springboks’ preferred midfield combination.
The duo have seen their places come under pressure after Jesse Kriel and Frans Steyn put in impressive showings in the Boks’ win over the Wallabies last weekend.
It’s easy to forget, but both Am and De Allende played important roles in the historic victory before they were replaced just after half time. Between them, Am and De Allende made 14 tackles in the first half. Am was also the one who won a vital turnover in the buildup to Willie le Roux’s intercept try in the first half.
Likely to be up against a strong combo in Sonny Bill Williams and Anton Leinert-Brown, Am and De Allende will need to put in another strong shift and once again lay claim to the 12 and 13 jerseys.
Mariette Adams (staff writer) wants Argentina to replicate their heroics of 2018.
While it didn’t exactly rank as high as the Springboks’ shock 36-34 triumph over the All Blacks earlier on the same day, Argentina still caused an upset when they ousted the Wallabies 23-19 on the Gold Coast on 15 September last year.
With the result the Los Pumas snapped a 13-game losing streak against the Wallabies as well as clinched a first win on Australian soil since 1983.
Argentina are in a World Cup pool featuring England and France, so they’ll need to build as much confidence as possible in this Rugby Championship before heading out to the showpiece in Japan.
They’ve already suffered an agonising defeat by the All Blacks at home. I hope to see coach Mario Ledesma’s men take advantage of a Wallabies side that are at a low ebb and showing no clear signs of improvement.
An Argentina win in Brisbane will not only inject more self-belief in the players in the lead-up to the World Cup, it’ll also nicely set up their looming clash with South Africa in Buenos Aires.
John Goliath (senior contributor) hopes the Springboks use their chances like they did in Wellington in 2018.
Chances are that the Boks will again have to do a lot of tackling against the All Blacks. Last year they put in a monumental defensive display in the corresponding fixture, with a whole host of players making over 20 individual tackles in the encounter.
But, while the South Africans tackled their hearts out and showed outstanding physicality, they also scored some wonderful tries because of clinical finishing and anticipation.
Willie le Roux and Cheslin Kolbe scored two opportunistic tries against the run of play that really hurt the home team’s momentum. But it was Aphiwe Dyantyi’s brace – featuring great ball retention, solid option-taking and a bit of magic – that showed what the Boks are capable of with ball in hand.
While New Zealand are a top attacking team, they are also the best at making their tackles, harassing teams at the breakdown and shutting down space. Defence is as much part of their game as their superb skills and execution.
So, if the Boks get an opportunity to attack the All Blacks deep in their own half, they have to make it count and come away with points. If they don’t, it’s going to be very difficult to go back to back in Wellington.
Photo: Hannah Peters/Getty Images