Damian Willemse at No 10 would be a breath of fresh air for the embattled Springboks in Australia. It won’t happen but this is the Springboks team I would want to see start against the Wallabies in Sydney, writes Mark Keohane.
The DHL Stormers No 8 Evan Roos is not in Australia. I understand he will get some game time against the Pumas, who currently are shaping as the form team in the Rugby Championship.
I have chosen from those Bok players currently in Australia.
I was disappointed a week ago with the match 23 picked to play Australia in Adelaide. It was ‘same old’ and there was not enough injection of fresh faces. The Boks played as if functioning on fatigue and several players experienced horror performances.
The last five minutes’ 14-point flurry should not in any way erase the memory of the first 75 minutes when the Boks trailed 25-3 – a scoreline that could have been worse had the Wallabies opted for sitter three-pointers in the last quarter. Instead, they chased another try and ended up conceding two.
I can’t recall Handre Pollard ever struggling as much, and I had pinned so much faith in him. Faf de Klerk is a shadow of the 2019 World Cup inspiration and the yellow card against Nic White should have been awarded for stupidity and not for any blow to White’s face. It was ill-disciplined, illegal and just dumb.
Warrick Gelant, on the right wing, looked lost in the Bok system, Frans Steyn looked like a player who hadn’t played a match since July and even Damian de Allende was not imposing. Damian Willemse and Lukhanyo Am were the exceptions to a Bok backline that did not fire.
Up front, a starting change is needed to the tight five and the back three of the pack. So many of the big name World Cup-winning Bok forwards are seriously off the pace, with Pieter-Steph du Toit, in particular, a shadow of the player who dominated in 2019.
The worst thing that could happen with a complete overhaul is a defeat, which would be consistent with the Boks’ win record of four from 30 against the Wallabies in Australia since 1996. Four from 30 or four from 31 with the same old is just the same old.
A new-look combination may just get an elusive win and show the strategic and coaching leadership of Rassie Erasmus and Jacques Nienaber that there is an alternative to those players who in the last 13 Tests have delivered just six wins.
With this in mind – and again it is a wish list as it won’t happen – I’d love to see the following XV start. It shows 10 changes, including a positional switch, to those starters who couldn’t get out of first gear in Adelaide.
MARK KEOHANE’S SPRINGBOKS MATCH 23 FOR SYDNEY
15. Willie le Roux
14. Canan Moodie
13. Lukhanyo Am
12. Damian de Allende
11. Makazole Mapimpi
10. Damian Willemse
9. Jaden Hendrikse
8. Jasper Wiese
7. Elrigh Louw
6. Siya Kolisi
5. Franco Mostert
4. Eben Etzebeth
3. Trevor Nyakane
2. Malcolm Marx
1. Steven Kitshoff
16. Deon Fourie (hooker/loose forward)
17. Vincent Koch (tighthead)
18. Ox Nche (loosened)
19. Salmaan Moerat (lock)
20. Kwagga Smith
21. Herschel Jantjies
22. Elton Jantjies
23. Warrick Gelant