The deciding week in the Rugby Championship. South Africa will go into the last test having all but secured third spot on the log unless they succumb to a shock loss. Will Pieter-Steph du toit feature in the fourth game with the former Sharks lock having managed to get a few minutes against the Lions in the warm up game. The giant lock was impressive, dominant at lineout time, solid in defense and had a great break to cap off a decent night on the park. One has to hope he will feature for the Springboks and manage to get the same chance as Lood de jager had (missed most of the rugby this year but managed to step up in a Test match) and take it. The match against Argentina will be an opportunity for Meyer to have a look at several more options and it would be even better to try out some combinations. Will Jean de Villiers get the opportunity to win back his jumper? Had the skipper been fit the Springboks would not have been privileged to have Damien and Jesse in the midfield. That in itself is a positive from a fan’s perspective. His injury that is. What I do know is that Jean’s leadership will be the most important asset the Springboks get this week. It will be time for the skipper to prove the doubters wrong and step up to the plate; question is for who? Jan Serfontein is also believed to be recovered and all of a sudden Meyer has the difficult task of picking not just a squad but a best XV.
Argentina will present a physical onslaught and will require the very best from our player; our forwards more so. With Jannie and Francois Louw it will be an opportunity for several players to get a shot at the 31 man squad.
It is also expected Fourie du Preez and Willem Alberts more importantly will be back and a decision whether they will feature will be made later in the week. They are likely to receive much needed game time as they look to be ready for the England show piece. All hopes of the Springboks final showing will be on the shoulders of the returning stars. Argentina will not only be two dead rubber tests but they will tell Bok fans where exactly they stand with the World Cup on the horizon. The Springboks have managed to improve every game this year but it’s not good enough to dominate games over 60 minutes only. Goodness, even Wales have managed to perfect that art. They have managed to dominate against every powerhouse side but still lost. At the end of the day it counts for nothing! The next two weeks will be pivotal for all four nations. It will be the performance that is needed for Argentina and South Africa while Australia and New Zealand will be aiming for the crown. Will New Zealand be able to make it 19 from 21 win in the Rugby Championship? Will they claim every Rugby Championship title since its inception?
A funny story in somewhat has popped out of the New Zealand camp with the All Blacks looking to take their innovation levels to a new level by taking two half backs only to the world Cup. That would mean, take Aaron Smith and TJ Perenara and have Colin Slade cover the third slot. Why? Steve believes it could allow the All Blacks to take more back line options to the World Cup. This is something the men in black are considering, it looks like they were impressed by the Highlanders five-eighth Lima Sopoaga. Only time will tell if Colin Slade will actually be considered an option in this position. With Hooper cleared to face the All Blacks it will be an interesting match this weekend. It would also good be good to see the All Blacks give Beauden Barrett a run at Fly half and they could also throw in Patrick Osborne into the cauldron with the persistent injury to Cory Jane. With Steve Hansen believed to be willing to gamble on Nehe Milner-Skudder who was battling with a rib injury in one of the two tests against Australia. The All blacks are looking solid going into the World Cup and have the most balanced and assured side.
Australia may need to work on several aspects of their game such as their kickers who all have been shocking. The Australian scrum has improved but it will not worry their Pool A opponents who will see some creeks in that pack. A positive for the Wallabies will be the return of Kane Douglas. They are in desperate need of second row reinforcement as they will likely call on James Horwill this weekend with the injury to Rob Simmons. The countdown to Rugby World Cup 2015 continues, and there will be a lot more questions answered in the next few weeks.