- One of the standout selections ahead of Saturday's Rugby Championship clash
between the Springboks and Argentina in
Durban is the inclusion of Makazole
Mapimpi on the right wing.
The 28-year-old has been one of
the form finishers in South African rugby over the past two seasons, first at
the Kings, then at the Cheetahs and now with the Sharks.
Mapimpi earned a Springbok debut
when he was part of a watered-down side that went down to Wales in Washington
back in June in what was coach Rassie Erasmus' first match in charge of the
Since then, though, there have
been concerns over his aerial ability and defensive frailties.
In the build-up to Saturday's
Kings Park Test, there was talk that Erasmus would back the experience of
Sharks stalwart Lwazi Mvovo at wing.
S'bu Nkosi was the man who got
the job done against England, and along with Aphiwe Dyantyi he was impressive
in his first Test experience.
But with Nkosi out with an
injured ankle, Erasmus has given Mapimpi his chance.
It is a story of how hard work
and a willingness to learn pays off.
Speaking on Thursday shortly
after announcing his side, Erasmus explained that Mapimpi's selection came down
to the player putting his head down and working on his flaws.
The attacking flair was never in
question, but now it seems that Mapimpi has developed the areas of his game
that were not up to Test standard.
"We all know what he can do.
He scores tries and he’s got tremendous x-factor with ball in hand,"
"He’ll be the first guy to
put up his hand and say there were certain technical areas where he struggled …
like with the high ball and sometimes with defensive systems.
"But if I had to rank
players in the squad of 35 who have improved the most, then he would be No 1 in
terms of hard work.
"He’s always fit, he’s
always available and in certain areas if he was 4 or 5 out of 10, he’s close to
8 and 9 now.
"He’s improved tremendously
in the areas that he was weak, and he’s obviously very strong in attack. It’s
wonderful to give him a chance against the big boys now."
15 Willie le Roux, 14 Makazole Mapimpi, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Siya Kolisi (captain), 6 Francois Louw, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Thomas du Toit, 19 Marvin Orie, 20 Marco van Staden, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Lionel Mapoe, 23 Damian Willemse