Cape Town – Francois Louw has confirmed his match readiness ahead
of the Springboks’ crucial Castle Rugby Championship match against Australia in
Perth on Saturday.
Louw was one of two “new” loose forwards – the other the yet-uncapped
Duane Vermeulen -- added to coach Heyneke Meyer’s squad for a game South Africa
almost certainly need to win if they are to stay in realistic contention for
the title with the in-form All Blacks.
Substitute Keegan Daniel has been axed since the
disappointing draw with Argentina in Mendoza and starting blindsider Jacques
Potgieter is widely tipped to get the chop as well after being mostly cumbersome
and ineffectual against the fired-up Pumas.
Some eyebrows were raised when Meyer summoned both Vermeulen
and Louw, considering that the former has only recently returned to Currie Cup
action for Western Province after long-term injury – he is yet to see out a
full game – whilst the English-based latter was plucked out of pre-season mode
So it represented timely good news for the Boks that, on
Saturday, while the rest of the squad flew to Perth, Louw reportedly played the
entire 80 minutes of their Premiership opener away to the Worcester Warriors,
with Bath stealing the game 24-23 courtesy of Olly Barkley’s
English newspaper reports suggest it was far from a classic,
with the visitors a trifle fortunate and Louw not getting any special mentions
for positive input from his flank berth, but his simply completing a properly
competitive fixture will have pleased the Bok brains trust.
It means the former Stormers favourite may be a dark horse
for a starting spot against the Wallabies, although a bench place may be a more
realistic scenario, with Marcell Coetzee, Willem Alberts (back at No 7) and
Vermeulen arguably favourites for the loose forward slots in the run-on XV.
Louw also played a full-blooded role a fortnight ago when
Bath beat Cardiff Blues in a pre-season friendly, where he apparently
out-smarted Wales captain Sam Warburton, one of the premier open-siders in
world rugby at present.
At the time, the website Keo.co.za quoted Louw as saying: “I
believe I am playing the best rugby of my career.”
Perhaps the only
snag, in Louw’s case, is that he joins the Bok camp a little belatedly and
after a particularly gruelling trek across time zones to Australia.
The Bok side is due to be announced by Meyer at the
Pan-Pacific Hotel in Perth on Wednesday.
*Follow our chief
writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing