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Working with what we have

Written by Richard Ferguson (Richard Ferguson)

Posted in :End of Year Tour, Original Content, Springboks on 30 Oct 2013 at 10:04
Tagged with : , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Springboks start their End of year tour against Wales next Saturday, only two weeks after a brutal Currie Cup Final. With Wales being the current Six Nations champions, and the first match on the tour, I think this might very well be our toughest assignment.

My thinking here is simple, it is the first match in very different conditions, and there are bound to be a host of new combinations that will take a half to find their rhythm. The Springboks may have a fair bit of confidence on their side, but so too will Wales. It is sure to be a low scoring, tight affair.

With that in mind, how do we approach putting together a team to do battle? This is not the test in which to try new combinations and give a host of players their first caps, but also not the test to just use the same team from the Rugby Championship, as there are only three tests after all, and we need to make best use of all of them. So quite a balancing act.

Against the Welsh, I would use my most experienced front row, being that of Beast Mtawarira, Bismarck du Plessis and Jannie du Plessis. If they can set the tone in the first half, it will allow the Boks to use their entire benched front row in the second half. A fresh front row will do wonders for our set pieces, especially the scrums.

Eben Etzebeth is a must in the second row. He has been a rock in that position all season, and is one of the first names on the teamsheet. His partner is debatable. Do we use Bakkies Botha to soften the Welsh up before allowing Piet-Steph du Toit to come on and wreak havoc, or do we entrust du Toit with a starting cap and allow Bakkies to do the damage in the second half. Personally, I would give du Toit the start.

The loose forward combination will again see some heated debate, but I would simply go for the tried and tested. We know a combination of Francois Louw, Willem Alberts and Duane Vermeulen is the best, so we might as well start with them and allow someone like Siya Kolisi to run amok later in the match.

For the half backs, there isn’t much to choose from at scrumhalf, but if fit, Fourie du Preez will be my first choice here. He has shown to be the better scrumhalf in recent matches, although starting Pienaar in his home conditions might have some merit. It is a toss up for me, but du Preez will get the nod in my mind. As for flyhalf, my opinion on this is well known, I would allow Morne Steyn to play the first half and Pat Lambie the second half. Whether that actually happens, remains to be seen (with Johan Goosen in the mix).

The rest of the backline looks set to see changes from the Rugby Championship, with the return of Jaque Fourie and JP Pietersen set to bolster the team. A combination of Jean de Villiers and Jaque Fourie in midfield really excites me, with Jan Serfontein allowed to slot inside Fourie later in the match. As for the back three, Pietersen in combination with Bryan Habana and Willie le Roux should be very exciting. Although European conditions do not allow for an expansive game, le Roux’s explosive counter attacking can catch slower teams off guard.

So here it, my own starting fifteen to take on Wales next week:

15. Willie le Roux, 14. JP Pietersen, 13. Jaque Fourie, 12. Jean de Villiers, 11. Bryan Habana, 10. Morne Steyn, 9. Fourie du Preez, 8. Duane Vermeulen, 7. Willem Alberts, 6. Francois Louw, 5. Eben Etzebeth, 4. Pieter-Steph du Toit, 3. Jannie du Plessis, 2. Bismarck du Plessis, 1. Tendai Mtawarira.

Subs: 16. Adriaan Strauss, 17. Coenie Oosthuizen, 18. Frans Malherbe, 19. Bakkies Botha, 20. Siya Kolisi, 21. Ruan Pienaar, 22. Pat Lambie, 23. Jan Serfontein.


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