The Springboks kick of their 2014 Castle Rugby Championship campaign with a fixture against the Pumas at Loftus Versveld Pretoria by Clayton Saville
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer has rolled out the heavies for this game and it’s pretty clear that that his intention is to put the hurt on the Pumas irrespective of what his utterances in the media may be. This is going to be a bonus point or bust outing for the Boks
It has been a long while since I’ve glanced over a Bok team sheet and thought “ well ja, that’s pretty kief” , the selection of de Allende at 13 indicates Meyers love for backline players who could pass for loose forwards but every coach has his vice and Meyer is no different. Jerseys 1 – 8 will contain the whose who of South African beef, players who love nothing more than to steamroll opponents but with Bismark du Plessis and Francois Louw in the mix who contest furiously at the break, sort of like have a nice chargrilled steak and having some butter melt over the top.
The Springboks have gradually added an impressive attacking game over the last two seasons and will be using the fixtures against the Pumas to hone that, no disrespect to the visitors who will put up a spirited effort initially but will eventually fade under the unrelenting home pack. Ruan Pienaar, much maligned for not being able to transfer his European form to the international arena will have the perfect platform to deflect some scrutiny, quick ball should be in ready supply and outside him he has an exciting backline waiting to shine. It is here where the selection of de Allende may prove to be a master stroke, while de Allende is a big unit he has a very underrated passing game and should he be able to settle his nerves he should bring Cornal Hendricks or Bryan Habana into some great opportunities.
Expect the Springboks to keep it text book tidy in the first half hour, the Pumas will be looking to Juan Martin Fernández Lobbe to secure them turnover ball and they are always up for a good scrum. The Springboks will be patient, absorb any pressure and make sure they dominant there contact points well and should run out victors by at least 20 points with the 4 try BP safely tucked away, anything less will be viewed as a failure.
South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Damian de Allende, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Lodewyk de Jager, 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Frans Malherbe, 19 Eben Etzebeth, 20 Marcell Coetzee, 21 Francois Hougaard, 22 Morné Steyn, 23 Jan Serfontein.
Argentina: 15 Joaquín Tuculet, 14 Horacio Agulla, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Juan Martín Hernández, 11 Manuel Montero, 10 Nicolás Sánchez, 9 Martín Landajo, 8 Juan Manuel Leguizamón, 7 Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Tomás Lavanini, 4 Mariano Galarza, 3 Ramiro Herrera, 2 Agustín Creevy (captain), 1 Marcos Ayerza.
Replacements: 16 Matías Cortese, 17 Lucas Noguera Paz, 18 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 19 Matías Alemanno, 20 Leonardo Senatore, 21 Tomás Cubelli, 22 Santiago González Iglesias, 23 Lucas González Amorosino.
Referee: John Lacey (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Steve Walsh (Australia), Marius Mitrea (Italy)