Defeat against the Pumas can’t be a consideration if the resurgence of the Springboks of 2017 is to have merit. But don’t stress, the Springboks will win well at Port Elizabeth’s Nelson Mandela Stadium, where they’ve never lost.
Springbok coach Allister Coetzee must be applauded for his consistency in selection and his consistency in his thinking. He felt that Warren Whiteley’s style of play at No 8 added a dimension to the Springboks in the first two Tests against France and he has sought to find the closest style of player to Whiteley.
Coetzee hasn’t simply gone with the next best No 8 option. Coetzee is better off because he has the sounding board of the analytical mind of Brendan Venter as a specialist consultant. Still Coetzee makes the final call and he would have to buy into Venter’s rugby belief system; similarly trust Venter’s insights.
The Boks of 2017 are very much a Coetzee/Venter combined effort. It would be easy to dismiss Coetzee and give all the credit to Venter but as Venter has said often this season it would be wrong and inaccurate. Venter has credited Coetzee with moulding a very good support staff and group of players.
Venter has on a few occasions echoed the sentiment that the 2017 Springboks have the potential to develop into a special group. He has voiced this based on natural talent but also on their passion to play for each other and for the tradition and history associated with the Springboks as a rugby team. Venter has also said there was a feeling within the group that it was a privilege and not a right to represent South Africa.
My Sport24 preview column on the Castle Rugby Championship insisted that the Springboks win well against the Pumas in Port Elizabeth and against Australia in Bloemfontein. It also emphasised the need to be competitive against the All Blacks in South Africa and in New Zealand.
I wrote that four wins from six would give substance to talk of a resurgence and that the Boks’ were good enough to win away in Argentina and in Australia.
There are many strengths within the current Bok squad. The physicality is impressive and so too the control among the pack. The lock pairing of Eben Etzebeth and Franco Mostert is the right one, with Pieter-Stef du Toit adding impetus from the bench.
I don’t know about the effectiveness of the loose-trio. It’s an untried combination and I remained unconvinced about the potency of the back three as a collective. Individually there are question marks as well and I’d be surprised if this back three is the back three come the end of year, let alone the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.
The Springboks bench is strong and in a tight contest this will prove influential. I don’t think it will be easy but the Boks, at home, are two scores too good.
I’ve got the Springboks to win by 15 points.
Springboks: Andries Coetzee, Raymond Rhule, Jesse Kriel, Jan Serfontein, Courtnall Skosan, Elton Jantjies, Ross Cronje, Uzair Cassiem, Jaco Kriel, Siya Kolisi, Franco Mostert, Eben Etzebeth, Coenie Oosthuizen, Malcolm Marx, Beast Mtawirira. Substitutes: Bongi Mbonambi, Steven Kitshoff, Trevor Nyakane, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Jean-Luc du Preez, Francois Hougaard, Curwin Bosch, Damian de Allende.
Argentina: 15 Joaquin Tuculet; 14 Ramiro Moyano, 13 Matias Orlando, 12 Jeronimo de la Fuente, 11 Emiliano Boffelli; 10 Nicolas Sanchez, 9 Martin Landajo; 8 Leonardo Senatore, 7 Tomas Lezana, 6 Pablo Matera; 5 Tomas Lavanini, 4 Guido Petti; 3 Enrique Pieretto, 2 Agustin Creevy (captain), 1 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro. Substitutes: Julian Montoya, Lucas Noguera, Ramiro Herrera, Marcos Kremer, Javier Ortega Desio, Tomas Cubelli, Juan Martin Hernandez, Matias Moroni