Cape Town - Recent squad addition Damian Willemse being fielded in the outside centre berth.
That is a fairly likely scenario for the Springboks, exploiting the twinkle-toed youngster’s versatility, in their pool-closing World Cup match against Canada in Kobe on Tuesday (12:15 SA time).
There is a short turnaround time to the fixture where the Boks, heartened by their 49-3 dismantling of Italy, will put the finishing touches to their quarter-finals qualification.
That makes it even more of a betting certainty that coach Rassie Erasmus will not deviate substantially from his generous “rotational” policy for this one - so a mass summoning of his dirt-trackers a la the Namibian fixture, if you like - against rank minnows lying bottom of the group.
Just how limited the challenge of the Canadians will be, is illustrated by their own result against Italy on September 26: they were thumped 48-7 by the Azzurri, so you could call that an ominous 87-point gulf in anticipation of their Bok meeting.
Why the Willemse appeal at outside centre, not his most familiar spot by any means?
It would be influenced by the fact that the Boks, in contrast to so many other positions, are light on specialists there since the injury-enforced departure from the tournament of experienced Jesse Kriel.
Lukhanyo Am has now begun all three World Cup matches, something he has in common only with prolific-scoring wing flier Makazole Mapimpi, so both would warrant a rest on Tuesday (the side is to be revealed on Sunday).
Especially against such lightweight foes, Willemse really should be able to fit in seamlessly at No 13 if that is the route Erasmus opts to take; the 21-year-old would be delighted just to get a gallop after being called up as Kriel’s replacement from his short-term Saracens contract a few days ago.
Willemse has five Bok caps, though only one start thus far - at fullback against England at Twickenham late last year - and his presence in Japan now means he automatically becomes a healthy option as a multi-positional “supersub” for the Boks in the all-important knockout phase.
His great stepping and swerving ability is in the league of Cheslin Kolbe, the big star of SA’s World Cup at this point, and he is capable of demonstrating it in a variety of backline berths.
Should Erasmus decide to deploy the Stormers-based player elsewhere, the only other outside centre possibilities are regular inside centre Damian de Allende, though he had a pleasing, busy shift in his favourite slot against Italy, and other utility factors Frans Steyn and Warrick Gelant.
Steyn, you would imagine, is earmarked for more suitable No 12 against Canada, perhaps in midfield alliance with Willemse, while Gelant will be strongly in the frame for his more familiar fullback duty.
There is a bit of dilemma at left wing if it is felt Mapimpi should be rested, though Willie le Roux, resurgent in some ways at No 15 against Italy, might benefit from another game to keep sharpening - and he has done slick duty out wide for South Africa before.
Another point of major interest in the combination Erasmus puts out will be whether he decides to keep effervescent veteran hooker Schalk Brits as an acting eighth-man (and captain) - a dual job he did with such aplomb against Namibia.
If so, we might see the identical, speed-conscious loose trio combination who saw service in the southern African “derby”: Brits, Francois Louw and Kwagga Smith.
It seems to make sense for the Boks to completely change their tight five - such an area of depth - for the Canada date.
Against that backdrop, the starting XV should not differ too much from the following:
15 Warrick Gelant, 14 S’bu Nkosi, 13 Damian Willemse, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Makazole Mapimpi (or Willie le Roux?), 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Schalk Brits (captain), 7 Kwagga Smith, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 RG Snyman, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
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