JOHANNESBURG – Hometown favourite, Jaco Kriel, is in line to feature for the Springboks in the third Test against France at Ellis Park on Saturday.
A series-ending concussion to Oupa Mohoje has opened the door for a new No 7 flank in the Bok side. Jean-Luc du Preez, who replaced Mohoje in the second Test in Durban last weekend and enjoyed a stellar outing, will be the favourite to grab hold of the blindside flank position, but national coach Allister Coetzee has another option to consider.
Siya Kolisi, who was Man of the Match in Durban, could shift from openside to blindside and allow Kriel to come into the starting XV in his favoured position, with Du Preez coming off the bench.
What is clear, is Coetzee is considering a role for Kriel, and he’s likely to make a few other changes, too.
“Jaco has recovered tremendously well since the first week,” said Coetzee, who didn’t consider the Lions man due to him recently returning from a knee injury.
“He might even find himself in the matchday 23. I can’t wait to see him get an opportunity again. He’s been training with a lot of confidence.”
Coetzee though said he wanted to build “capacity”, in his words, so might simply continue with Du Preez.
“There’s an opportunity to build that capacity with Jean-Luc continuing as well. I would like to keep the continuity going. I’m not going to change for the sake of change ... we’ve got good combinations going, but there are certain places where I need to see some players, and this is an opportunity for me to have a look at them.
“So, I might make one or two changes.”
Coetzee said he was disappointed that Mohoje would miss out this weekend. “It’s a massive loss. We were happy with his game ... not only is he a line-out option, but he’s got the ability to run like a front lock, he carries hard, he’s strong in defence and he stops the opposition’s momentum,” said Coetzee. “His progress, his development and his confidence in terms of his detail are really pleasing.”
Besides the selection headache at flank, Coetzee also has to decide whether to bring back concussion-free Jesse Kriel at outside centre.
“If I reflect and look back at the first Test (when Kriel played outside centre) it is pleasing to see how well he played,” said Coetzee. “He settled quickly at 13, but Lionel (Mapoe) had a chance in Durban and also performed ... so it’s a good position to be in.”
Coetzee will name his team on Thursday.