Town - With Duane Vermeulen not available for the Rugby Championship, Springbok
coach Rassie Erasmus will
have to field a new-look loose trio for next Saturday's tournament opener
against Argentina in Durban.
On the surface, the
Whiteley seems the most natural replacement at the back of
the scrum. But, listening to Erasmus speak in Stellenbosch on Monday, things
could be a little more complicated than that.
Kolisi, confirmed as captain for the Rugby Championship, is the only one
guaranteed a start in the loose trio, though it is looking increasingly likely
that he will make the move from openside to blindside flank.
The addition of two new squad
members - the uncapped Marco
van Staden and Bok veteran Francois Louw -
means that Erasmus now has two new options at No 6.
While a Whiteley/Kolisi/Louw
starting loose trio would move Pieter-Steph du Toit back to the second row, it
seems the most natural fit.
Van Staden, however, is the
It has become abundantly clear
how highly Erasmus rates the 22-year-old; so much so that he was the coach's
first-choice to wear the No 6 jersey in the June Tests against England.
As fate would have it, Van Staden
went down with a knee injury while on Super Rugby duty for the Bulls against
the Brumbies in the final match before the international break.
Now, he is fit and firing, and
Erasmus is keen to get him involved.
"Marco probably would have
started in the England Test matches as the first-choice and then the match
before that series, the last one that the Bulls played, his knee went,"
"Since then he’s been
playing as an out-and-out opensider like Francois Louw and Heinrich Brussow and
those guys. It’s nice to have somebody like that in the fold."
Louw himself will be the
favourite to start at openside in Durban, though Erasmus hinted strongly at the
33-year-old's ability to play at No 8 too.
The coach pointed to the role
that Louw played in last year's 25-24 loss to the All Blacks at Newlands,
adding that it might open the door for him to start alongside Van Staden.
"Having guys being able to
contest on the ground like Malcolm (Marx), Flo and Marco … we might play them
together at some stage," Erasmus said.
"Flo played a wonderful game
at No 8 when we lost to New Zealand at Newlands. He’s pretty versatile, so they
might be in the same starting line-up, depending who the opposition is."
On Kolisi's likely move to No 7,
Erasmus had no concerns.
"When Siya started out
playing he was this lanky flanker who almost played like Warren (Whiteley). He
was bigger than the other boys, but he ran on those outside channels,"
"He’s taught himself the
role of a genuine open-sider. He’s brilliant over the ball and is a great
counter-rucker, but probably not of the best poachers or at slowing the
"With his lineout ability,
he is probably a good option as a blindside flanker.
"He will always be in the
team. It’s nice to have a guy like that and then build other guys around him.
He’ll probably play a few games at blindside."
The likeliest loose forward
combination for Durban remains Whiteley/Kolisi/Louw, but don't be surprised at
all if Erasmus takes the bold step to include another uncapped youngster in Van