The vital experience cog is an area of much debate with the selection of Bryan Habana continues to draw positive and negative attention, writes Benedict Chanakira
The World Cup winner has achieved great things for South African rugby and has not replicated this form in recent years and with the growing number of quality wingers in South Africa increasing by the season, is the selection of Habana still the right call?
Several veterans have been discarded from Willem Alberts, Ruan Pienaar to the du Plessis brothers, so the question is, has Allister picked the right players to bolster experience over form?
The selection of Morne Steyn is a masterstroke in my opinion as the former Bulls pivot is the most reliable Springbok pivot at the moment despite the availability of versatile Johan Goosen who should remain at fullback.
A look at the Springboks in the last four games, one can judge and observe their willingness to adapt and play a more entertaining and attack orientated game, however this remains a challenge when you consider their evident flaws. You can fault execution, but there must be a limited number of errors when it comes to the basics.
The lack of leaders, questionable selections and the lack of urgency draws a couple of worries for the Springboks. The men in green and gold have won their games in the dying minutes twice in a row now and some would call it composure and ability to execute when needed to and others would call it lady luck.
To win when facing defeat is a feat worth complimenting, however at some point a convincing performance is required to assert dominance and presence. The Test in Salta will be a big opportunity for South Africa to continue their growth.
You can never allow the opposition to get a head of steam and hope they fizzle-out. Not all games are set to be staged at altitude, especially with the All Blacks around the corner as the men from New Zealand are on a ruthless streak and if they get a sniff they will bury any side. The Wallabies and Wales can attest.
The lethargy in the side has to be extinguished and thus the role of the leaders is on the fore. The bench has injected fire into Springbok performances and they have been the hail-mary-option.
A lack of trust is evident with Strauss expected to finish out several of the matches and the lack of back up player getting a sniff with the selection of Rudy Paige into question as well. The pressure Elton Jantjes has been getting but the lack of support from Faf de Klerk on key moments also telling.
The Morne Steyn selection add more pressure to Elton Jantjes and it is at the point where he needs to show up this weekend or he may be dropped.
Consider Australia and Argentina have captains at hookers but they have limited roles in the match due to several leaders in the squad, developing trust in the squad requires a coach to use his bench to good effect. Yes, not all players have to come on, however the limited game time of Rudy Paige and a Bongi Mbonambi brings into question – why they are selected if they won’t affect games.
There is need to breed new leaders and develop contingency plans as the new era develops. Just like a change in approach will take time, so will creating mindset and growing the squads depth and options.
South Africa will need to front up or they will find themselves in some trouble. It will be a forward battle which will require even more mental fortitude.
Springboks – 15 Johan Goosen, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Oupa Mohoje, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Adriaan Strauss (c), 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 20 Jaco Kriel, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Morné Steyn, 23 Jesse Kriel.
Argentina – 15 Joaquín Tuculet, 14 Santiago Cordero, 13 Matías Orlando, 12 Juan Martín Hernández, 11 Manuel Montero, 10 Nicolás Sánchez, 9 Martín Landajo, 8 Facundo Isa, 7 Juan Manuel Leguizamón, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Tomás Lavanini, 4 Matías Alemanno, 3 Ramiro Herrera, 2 Agustín Creevy (c), 1 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro.
Replacements: 16 Julian Montoya, 17 Felipe Arregui, 18 Enrique Pieretto, 19 Guido Petti, 20 Javier Ortega Desio, 21 Tomas Cubelli, 22 Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias, 23 Lucas González Amorosino