- The Springboks and
Argentina meet in Durban on Saturday as the Rugby Championship gets
On paper, the Boks should be far
too strong for their South American opponents.
The hosts boast immense power in
their pack where the likes of Malcolm Marx, Eben Etzebeth and Pieter-Steph du
Toit all provide physicality in abundance.
The Pumas do have the injection
of confidence that will have come with the Jaguares' impressive run in Super
Rugby this year, but there is unlikely to be a repeat of 2015 when they stunned
Heyneke Meyer's side at the same Kings Park venue.
Bok coach Rassie Erasmus is in
the process of building a side for the 2019 World Cup in Japan, and there are a
number of changes from the side that got the job done against England in
Here, we take a look at five things to watch out for
from a South African perspective heading into the match.
Kick-off is at 17:05.
will returning Boks fare?
Etzebeth and Warren Whiteley, who
both captained the Boks last year, are back from long injury lay-offs. While
their quality is not in question, both players will want to prove a point on
will know that Duane Vermeulen, absent for the Rugby Championship, is very much
the first-choice Springbok No 8 currently while Etzebeth will have looked on as
RG Snyman and Franco Mostert both impressed in June.
Marx is also back from injury having missed out against England,
Louw returns to the No 6 jersey.
How much of an impact Louw has and
how he fits into the current Bok dynamic will be interesting to see.
Damian Willemse and Marco
van Staden will both make their Bok debuts on Saturday.
Van Staden would have started at
No 6 in the June Tests against England, but he was ruled out with injury. He
will get his chance on Saturday and will likely come on as a straight swap for
is a huge fan of Van Staden's and he is expecting big things.
Willemse, meanwhile, will almost
certainly replace Wille le Roux and be given a run at fullback. It is a
position where the Boks do have depth - Warrick Gelant and Pat Lambie are both
out injured - and Willemse will want to put his hand up with a strong display.
Erasmus said in the build-up to
the game that while Willemse's natural ability is unquestioned, how he responds
mentally to Test match rugby will be crucial.
shift and loose forward balance
Captain Siya Kolisi makes the move from openside to blindside flank to
accommodate Louw's return. The skipper needs a big performance on Saturday and
in the Championships as a whole.
is no shortage of options in the loose trio and the captain needs to show that
he is capable of filling the ball carrying role he has now been given.
With Vermeulen and Pieter-Steph
du Toit not in the loose trio for Saturday, the Bok back row is significantly
smaller than the one that played against England.
Will that have an impact on
Opportunities for Sharks trio
Lukhanyo Am and Andre
Esterhuizen have an opportunity together as the form an all-Sharks centre
pairing. With Damian de Allende our injured, Esterhuizen needs to prove that he
has the muscle and power to cut it as a Bok No 12.
Am, meanwhile, has both Lionel
Mapoe and Jesse Kriel to contend with for the No 13 jersey. He is being backed
by Erasmus currently, but he will know better than anyone that there are others
knocking hard on the door.
Another Shark, Makazole Mapimpi, is given a crack on
the wing with S'bu Nkosi out injured. There has been some concern over
Mapimpi's aerial ability and his defence, and he will certainly be tested in
both of those areas on Saturday.
crowd under spotlight
The weather is not playing its
part (it is cold and windy in Durban), but it looks like Kings Park will
struggle in terms of attendance on Saturday.
Between 25 000 and 30 000 are
expected, though that number could be even lower, and with the capacity of the
stadium 52 000 there is the risk of it being less than half full.
It isn't the most glamorous
match, but given the quality on offer in the Bok side and the fact that this is
the Rugby Championship opener, the Boks would have been hoping for more.
Crowds have been an issue for all
Super Rugby sides this year, and if we start seeing smaller crowds at Test
level then that will be extremely concerning.