The Springboks loose-trio is one of physical presence, menace and potency. They’ll be influential and inspiring in what will be a home victory in the first of three Tests against England.
Siya Kolisi will captain the Springboks for the first time. Jean-Luc du Preez has been immense in Super Rugby and will translate that form.
And Duane Vermeulen will provide the experience and brutality in the collisions.
I have the Springboks to win at Ellis Park by five points and to get stronger with each Test match and take the series three-nil.
Vermeulen will be integral to this Test series.
I was at Twickenham the last time the Springboks played England under Heyneke Meyer and Vermeulen was colossal. The Bok pack smashed England physically and when England don’t get forward dominance they invariably don’t win.
I expect to see England come off second in the collisions and in the result.
The match up at inside centre is also appealing, with Owen Farrell’s defence to be tested by the Springboks’s physical attacking ability of Handre Pollard (10) and Damian de Allende (12). It’s a very powerful 10/12 axis and George Ford (at 10) will know he has been in a Test match.
Ellis Park will be close to a sell out – and the All Blacks, in recent times, have proved the exception to the rule that teams simply don’t beat the Springboks at Ellis Park. The Boks have won 21 from 28 at Ellis Park, with four of the seven defeats coming against the All Blacks, one against England (way back when) two against France and one against the British and Irish Lions.
I’ve been encouraged by the talk coming from the players and coach Rassie Erasmus. It’s been about the rugby, the belief within the squad and also the affirmation that there has to be an expectancy on the Springboks to win, especially when playing at home.
There has been nothing but positive reinforcement from the media interviews I’ve read and those I’ve engaged in.
England, by way of Eddie Jones, have been circumspect and respectful.
Jones, when Australian coach, never won with the Wallabies in South Africa. He won’t win with England (in South Africa) either.
15 Willie le Roux, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 RG Snyman, 3 Trevor Nyakane/Wilco Louw, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16 Akker van der Merwe, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Wilco Louw/Thomas du Toit, 19 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Ivan van Zyl, 22 Elton Jantjies, 23 Warrick Gelant
15 Elliot Daly, 14 Jonny May, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Owen Farrell (captain), 11 Mike Brown, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Tom Curry, 6 Chris Robshaw, 5 Nick Isiekwe, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Jamie George, 1 Mako Vunipola
Substitutes: 16 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17 Joe Marler, 18 Harry Williams, 19 Brad Shields, 20 Nathan Hughes, 21 Ben Spencer, 22 Piers Francis, 23 Denny Solomona