Uzair Cassiem could be the surprise pick at No 8 for the Springboks’ Castle Lager Rugby Championship opener against the Pumas in Port Elizabeth.
Springbok coach Allister Coetzee’s No 8 stocks were initially strong when he had the option of Warren Whiteley and Duane Vermeulen. Both are unavailable because of injury.
Sharks regular No 7 Jean-Luc du Preez started at No 8 in the final Test against the French after Whitely was a late withdrawal.
Du Preez’s twin brother Dan, a specialist No 8 but uncapped for the Springboks, is another possible option. The whispers from those close to the Bok camp would indicate that Coetzee won’t start with the newbie du Preez.
Cassiem, who played flank for the Springboks in the 2016 Test defeat against Wales in Cardiff, is a player Coetzee rates highly.
Stormers captain Siya Kolisi will definitely start for the Boks against the Pumas, but there isn’t as much certainty about the make up of the starting loose-trio.
Oupa Mohoje was an initial selection against the French but got injured during the series. Jaco Kriel started only the third Test against France and Cassiem wasn’t involved in the French series. (Jean-Luc) du Preez started the French series as a squad member but injury to Whiteley and Mohoje saw him promoted to a starting role in the latter part of the series.
Coetzee has indicated that, injury aside, there would be minimal tampering to the side that dealt with France in Johannesburg the last time the Boks played.