The Rugby Championship is back and the expectation on South African fans is very little and they have been hoping the Argentina men don’t shock the home side, writes Benedict Chanakira
The Springboks have a squad which boasts exciting backs and rather dull forwards in key positions. The hooker position will be under further scrutiny considering Adriaan Strauss’ horrific form in the June series.
The emergence and further development of Malcolm Marx is applying pressure on the Springbok skipper and his coach. The set piece will be the most important area in this match, as the scrum in particular will be a battle to behold. Julian Redelinghuys and the introduction of Vincent Koch later on will definitely prove vital as these two are key cornerstones of any scrum.
The Argentinians will have a very inexperienced loosehead who has been converted from tighthead.
The line out will be an area the Springboks dominate with the excellence of Etzebeth on the fore. What will be an area we should all anticipate is the driving maul with both sides using this as a weapon on several occasions.
The arm-wrestle would be balanced, go the Springbok way but most occasions the home side would be dismantled at scrum-time. With Lood de Jager and Eben Etzebeth in the engine room, one has to wonder whether Allister was thinking of the lack of blind side options in the squad, he will bring in the enforcer in the second stanza.
The need to give Lood game time in the Championship sound trifle and we should rather focus at the fact Teboho Mohoje will need to step up massively and have a big game. To stop the Pumas at the gain line and to then take the Boks forward with ball in hand. This will be a challenge for the SA A captain and he has much to prove.
The most fascinating battle in this match will be with the packs. This is a rather weak Springbok pack for me but it’s the replacement bench which offers more than enough excitement. The injection of speed, tempo and skill could swing this match in Nelspruit.
The Koch factor, the ability of both Kriel’s and more importantly Pieter Steph du Toit will be pivotal. Ill-discipline is an area which teams need to be able to handle. Considering both are very ill disciplined and the Argentinians in particular have a habit of going over the line in terms of punches, gouging, et al.
The Springboks should win this match, however it will not be easy. The notion it will be the best preparation for the Boks could be a touch far-fetched. The intensity, quality and skill level will be under observation. The abrasive, brute collisions will also allow both backs to express themselves.
The Pumas showing every year they have the intent to play expansive but may require a bit more discipline with ball-to-boot and they could prove a threat.
They have shown a strong reliance on the brilliant boot of Nicolas Sanchez and how they attack the 10-12 channel will be fascinating considering the focus on Jantjes and De Allende’s defensive efforts. The Springboks and Coetzee’s fourth match at Test level as head coach approaches. It is not getting any easier and the pressure is increasing.
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 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Adriaan Strauss (c), 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 20 Jaco Kriel, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Juan de Jongh, 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 Leguizamon, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Tomás Lavanini, 4 Matías Alemanno, 3 Ramiro Herrera, 2 Agustín Creevy (c), 1 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro.
Replacements: 16 Julían Montoya, 17 Felipe Arregui, 18 Enrique Pieretto, 19 Guido Petty, 20 Javier Ortega Desio, 21 Tomás Cubelli, 22 Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias, 23 Ramiro Moyano.
Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Jérôme Garcès (France), Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand)
TMO: George Ayoub (Australia)