Rugby Championship

5 Springboks who face the chop after Pumas 'embarrassment'

2018-08-29 10:47
Handre Pollard (Getty)

Cape Town - Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus, perhaps for the first time since taking the national job at the start of the 2018 season, showed his angry side on Saturday. 

The Boks had just slipped to a 32-19 defeat to Argentina in Mendoza, and Erasmus labelled the performance as "embarrassing". 

It is a result that has brought the Boks crashing back down to earth after an impressive 2-1 series win over England and then victory in their Rugby Championship opener against the Pumas in Durban. 

All of a sudden, the upcoming trips to Australia and New Zealand have become even more daunting than they originally were. 

"Whatever the consequences are for this, if it's players getting dropped, we must look at ourselves … we can't play like this," were Eramsus's words.

They suggest that there will be changes in personnel when the Boks line up to face the Wallabies in Brisbane next weekend. 

Here, we look at the FIVE players who should be most worried. Pics from Gallo

1. Francois Louw 

A Bok veteran with undeniable pedigree, Louw came in for some criticism on Saturday with his defence, in particular, under the spotlight. The Springbok loose trio without Duane Vermeulen did not operate as planned in the two Argentina Tests. Louw probably hasn't done enough to warrant being dropped, but with Siya Kolisi the captain of the side and the first name on the team sheet, Louw might be the one sacrificed if Kolisi must move back to No 6. 

2. Warren Whiteley

He has been full of energy, running and intent, but it hasn't been the comeback to the national jersey that Whiteley would have hoped for. Replacing Vermeulen at the start of the Rugby Championship was always going to be a big ask. The two are different players and Whiteley does not have the size to be the ball-carrying menace that Vermeulen is. If Erasmus does want to include a bigger player in his back row, then Louw could move to No 8 and Whiteley could be sidelined. Right now, it is hard to see Whiteley starting when Vermeulen is back anyway. 

3. Handre Pollard

The flyhalf has been woeful in his two Championship matches so far and the No 10 jersey is up for grabs once more. His goal-kicking has been most problematic, but he has also failed to take control from open play. Elton Jantjies will be waiting for another opportunity, while 20-year-old Stormers sensation Damian Willemse is a long shot to be given the No 10 jersey against the Wallabies. There is no doubting Pollard's ability, but he has been nowhere near his best so far in the Championship.

4. Andre Esterhuizen

There has been lots of hard, straight running without much impact. It is always difficult to measure the real value of a ball-carrying No 12, but the jury is still out on what Esterhuizen has contributed in Bok colours so far. Damian de Allende is nearing a return to fitness and, once that happens, he will surely move ahead of Esterhuizen and straight back into the starting line-up.

5. Lukhanyo Am

Outside centre is a position where there is real depth and competition in this Springbok set-up and Am did himself no favours in Mendoza. He was guilty of holding onto the ball for too long, while he also threw a costly forward pass that saw a try ruled out. Am has shown some encouraging signs in the green and gold, but Jesse Kriel and Lionel Mapoe are both options for Erasmus and the coach might be tempted into making a change for next weekend.

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Saturday, 29 September 2018
South Africa v Australia, Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium 17:05
Sunday, 30 September 2018
Argentina v New Zealand, Estadio Jose Amalfitani 00:40
Saturday, 06 October 2018
South Africa v New Zealand, Loftus Versfeld 17:05
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