The SA Rugby magazine team identify what they would love to see come out of the final round of the Rugby Championship.
Craig Lewis (digital/print editor) hopes to see the Springboks claim a comfortable victory.
Argentina has never been the happiest of hunting grounds for the Springboks. I remember being in Mendoza for the the first Rugby Championship clash between the sides in 2012 when the Boks were expected to claim a comprehensive win. Instead, the visitors were pretty fortunate to salvage a draw.
In 2013 and 2014 very little separated the sides, while in 2016 and 2018 the Springboks in fact suffered humbling defeats in Argentina.
With that in mind, and in the context of this World Cup year, there’s no doubt it would serve as a momentous confidence boost if the Springboks were able to claim an emphatic victory, wrap up the Rugby Championship title, and march confidently on towards the Japan showpiece event.
Following this weekend, Rassie Erasmus is expected to experiment and trial various players and selections over the two remaining World Cup warm-up games – so this Saturday is really the last time until the World Cup that the first-choice side is likely to be in action.
It presents a golden opportunity for the Boks to make another massive statement before the World Cup. By contrast, a scrappy performance or another defeat in Argentina would undo a lot of the confidence gained from the first two Rugby Championship Tests against Australia and the All Blacks.
Jon Cardinelli (chief writer) wants South Africa to tick both boxes in Salta.
Forget about the World Cup for a second – just a second, mind.
The Boks haven’t won a trophy since 2009. I didn’t even have a Twitter account or a smart phone back then, and most of the other writers listed on this page were still in high school. 2009 feels like a thousand years ago.
It’s high time that the Boks won a title. Hopefully we will see Erasmus’ charges ending the long drought on Saturday.
On the other hand, it would be great to see Erasmus getting some answers ahead of the 2019 World Cup. Kwagga Smith still has something to prove, as does Frans Steyn. Hopefully Erasmus will leave Salta with more than a big win and a trophy.
Dylan Jack (staff writer) wants the ‘new’ Bok front row to make a statement.
The only changes to the Springboks’ starting lineup this weekend have come in the front row as Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff and Frans Malherbe have all been placed on the bench, allowing Bongi Mbonambi, Beast Mtawarira and Trevor Nyakane a chance to start.
The trio began against the Wallabies and made good inroads into the Australian scrum, while Mbonambi was once again solid at the lineout.
Given the Argentinians’ much-publicised struggles at the scrum, Saturday’s match will offer both Mtawarira and Nyakane another opportunity to make a big statement at the set piece.
Another strong performance would certainly give Rassie Erasmus a selection headache, given that there is also Lizo Gqoboka still waiting for another chance.
Mariette Adams (staff writer) hopes the Bok defence neutralizes the Pablo Matera threat.
Pablo Matera has been the Jaguares and Argentina’s best player this season as he seamlessly transferred his Vodacom Super Rugby form to the Test stage.
Based solely on form, he is arguably the leading loose forward in world rugby at the moment – definitely the most versatile – and that presents danger for opposition teams.
South Africa’s improved defence has been credited for their recent gritty displays against the All Blacks and Wallabies, and rightly so. They’ve conceded only three tries and 33 points overall against the two antipodean sides.
But in Salta on Saturday, the Bok defence will face another stern test in the form of the free-running Argentinians in general and Matera in particular. South Africa have to shut down Matera’s time on the ball both in open play and on the ground or risk being on the receiving end of another unwanted result.
John Goliath (senior contributor) hopes the Springboks leave Salta unscathed …
Everything is going according to plan for the Springboks. Their World Cup preparation is entering its final stage, and it’s so far so good for Rassie Erasmus’ charges.
Erasmus has given players a chance to perform and most of them did really well in the Tests against Australia and New Zealand. The Boks suddenly have proper depth all around the park, while captain Siya Kolisi is also making his way back from injury this weekend in the Currie Cup.
But Erasmus can only control what happens off the field, and will be hoping that his team can leave South America with only a couple of bumps and bruises and no serious injuries.
Playing Argentina in their backyard is tough, as the Pumas lift their intensity and physicality 100% in front of their passionate home crowd. It’s seriously not a place for the faint of heart, as the Boks have found out in the past.
Injuries are something you can’t plan for or even try to prevent, but it can easily derail the best laid plans ahead of the World Cup. So, let’s hope the Boks leave Argentina with a just a couple of bumps and bruises, as well as the Rugby Championship trophy.
Photo: Clive Rose/Getty Images