After a thrilling win after the hooter in Paris, the Boks head up to Edinburgh to take on Scotland at the iconic Murrayfield.
There has been conjecture in certain parts, about Rassie Erasmus possibly shuffling the the team this week, with possibly one or two debutants. The likes of JD Schickerling and Sergeal Petersen have been touted to make debuts, as well as former Blitzbok, Ruhan Nel. As exciting as that would be, I am against any experimentation against the Scots.
First of all, let’s not kid ourselves. Yes, there’s been unbelievable progress. The level of tactical and technical awareness has been elevated way beyond what we’ve seen the past two years. However, this remains a group that is growing, and learning. They’ve lost 5 tests this year, and as much as we can celebrate progress, it is a results business.
Jake White, identified the need for a settled squad and starting lineup, as crucial to winning the World Cup in 2007. He placed a high value on caps, and making sure that his team was as experienced as it could be, during the World Cup. In 2007, our starting lineup in the final, was our most experienced in our history. Each individual knew their role inside out, and knew their teammates inside out.
I feel this is something we need to replicate in the lead up to Japan. The more times Malcolm Marx plays, the more opportunity there is to throw lineouts to Eben Etzebeth and Franco Mostert. The more variations there will be, the more options under pressure there will be.
The more times Duane Vermeulen, Pieter Steph du Toit and Siya Kolisi play together, the more they’ll gel as a back row unit.
Let Aphiwe Dyantyi, Sbu Nkosi and Willie Le Roux build a back three relationship, that can read the game, and when to counter attack or not.
Handre Pollard is the established flyhalf, so let him play with Faf De Klerk as much as possible to develop that relationship even further. The centre pairing of Jesse Kriel and Damian De Allende are experienced and they will continue to grow.
We are less than a year out from our opening game against the All Blacks in Yokohama. And there are very few test matches between now and then, especially with a reduced Rugby Championship next year. We have to nail down our preferred 23 man squad and stick with it. If there are bolters next year that you simply can’t ignore, ala Frans Steyn in 2006, then so be it. But lets field our strongest team and let the results flow.