Head to head: Editor Craig Lewis and chief writer Jon Cardinelli debate who should start on the right wing for the Springboks at the World Cup.
Lewis says Cheslin Kolbe:
Back in July, Rassie Erasmus opted against selecting a host of first-choice players for the Rugby Championship opener against the Wallabies at Ellis Park. Instead, they travelled to New Zealand to begin preparations for the highly-anticipated grudge match against the All Blacks in Wellington.
It speaks volumes that Kolbe was among this group and he certainly didn’t disappoint, with the diminutive wing producing a rousing 80-minute performance, which included a superbly-weighted chip kick to set up a match-defining try in the dying stages of the drawn Test. Besides making 46m and beating three defenders, Kolbe also executed 13 tackles as he again refused to take a step back on defence.
Such a performance will come as no surprise for those who have closely followed Kolbe’s career. What he lacks in size, he certainly makes up for with pure guts, determination and lion-hearted displays on defence and with ball in hand. Last year, the 25-year-old was seen as a surprise inclusion in the Bok side, but he vindicated his selection through consistently impressive performances.
With so much X factor to offer and a surprising ability to hold his own defensively or when it comes to the aerial battle, Kolbe deserves to retain the No 14 jersey.
Cardinelli says Sbu Nkosi:
The Boks look set to travel to the World Cup with a good mix of back-three options. In the big games, however, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Sbu Nkosi starting in a combination geared towards winning the aerial and physical battle. Nkosi has taken his game to new heights this season and could be an asset to a team that’s looking to boss the aerial contests and then attack against a fractured defence.
The first World Cup pool match against the All Blacks may be shaped by such a battle. In the playoffs, the Boks may come up against the likes of Ireland, England and Wales – teams that have favoured a strong kicking game in recent seasons. South Africa will need players at the back who can diffuse the high bombs and then apply the pressure when the Boks create their own opportunities via the kick-chase.
Nkosi’s strength in contact will be a factor in the matches where the defence is more robust and well-organised. While the winger has the pace to beat his opponents on the outside – as was seen in the recent Test against Australia at Ellis Park – he also has the power to repel defenders and gain valuable metres for his side.