Cape Town - Expect
Springbok head coach Rassie Erasmus to lean very heavily toward the personnel
who did duty in the toughest game of the season on paper so far – against the
All Blacks in Wellington - when he reveals on Tuesday his side to tackle Japan
Test (12:15 SA time) is the last before the Boks, just over a fortnight later, open
their World Cup account against the New Zealanders at Yokohama, and it is fully
expected that the team he anticipates beginning that massive date will be given
the earlier clash, en masse, as a cobwebs-eliminator.
likely to be thinking that if the men he will entrust renewed confidence in
could earn that gallant 16-16 outcome at the Cake Tin back on July 27, they
have an even better chance of knocking over the Webb Ellis Cup-holders in more neutral
Yokohama on September 21.
He has shown
a steady, common sense-laden hand in selection terms so far in 2019, which
greatly helped engineer the Rugby Championship title triumph, so shocks should
be kept to a minimum (or even virtually zero, really?) when he names the
match-day combo for the crack at avenging the RWC 2015 debacle against the
The Bok mastermind
tellingly started with a dozen of the same players for each of the Wellington
and Salta (against Argentina) clashes during the Championship, in which the pleasing
46-13 romp at the expense of the Pumas sealed the trophy.
that 12 may well remain unaltered for Friday’s match, the exception being
fit-again captain Siya Kolisi’s fairly logical return at open-side flank for still-inexperienced
rotation-based “fiddling” between the trips to New Zealand and Argentina was to
field different front rows each time.
Was it a
pointer to his current thinking in pecking-order terms, between a pair of
impressive trios, that the starters against the World Cup champions were Steven
Kitshoff, Malcolm Marx and Frans Malherbe … so really considered the
highly debatable issue, not least because, in Salta, the more visibly
destructive and energetic collective showing came from Tendai Mtawarira, Bongi
Mbonambi and Trevor Nyakane.
were outstanding that day, and the stocky tighthead prop Nyakane particularly
forceful at the set-piece against hapless direct opponent Nahuel Tetaz
Chaparro, repeatedly bent backwards over the course of his nightmarish 49
minutes against the fired-up Bulls man.
But it is
also common knowledge that the Pumas’ days of the famed bajada scrum weapon belong more firmly in the annals; the All
Blacks are a superior scrumming unit and that is one justification for Erasmus
to stick with the Kitshoff-Marx-Malherbe alliance if, indeed, he considers them
fractionally his premier crew.
three - if chosen - will know they are under intense pressure not to “idle”
against Japan, given the calibre of stocks immediately below them.
is probably safe to venture, will come under the closest scrutiny to be
suitably workmanlike both as tighthead anchorman and in a general-play capacity
on Friday, given Nyakane’s increasingly celebrated conversion to what used to
be his “wrong” side of the engine room.
28-year-old Stormers customer is moderate, at best, against the relative
minnows, he may yet find himself relegated to the bench (or even eclipsed
there, by Vincent Koch) for the All Blacks clash.
Malherbe’s favour, it might be submitted, is that he has far greater experience
than Nyakane does of starting Test matches: his 31 caps since 2013 have
included 24 in the frontline No 3 jersey - 77 percent.
Nyakane, whether he likes it or not, has developed more of a reputation as a
“supersub”: as many as 36 of his 40 Test appearances have come in that
But his true
value to the cause has become increasingly apparent this year.
will know it, and probably be spurred into acting accordingly … if he does
retain first-choice status for the time being.
*Likely Bok starting XV against
15 Willie le
Roux, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole
Mapimpi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Pieter-Steph
du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans
Malherbe, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Steven Kitshoff
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