SO WHO will come out tops on Saturday night? The Springboks or France? Our five Independent Media rugby writers stick their necks out with their predictions for the first Test at Loftus.
They surely cannot be worse than they were in 2016. The match is at a venue where the Boks have done well before, they’ve had good preparation time and the French are a little disrupted after a long season. The Lions influence will be massive and will play a big part.
Mike Greenaway's prediction: France
There is a long historical precedent of French teams being underrated when they hit South African shores. They have played 21 Tests in South Africa, with the Boks winning just 10, France winning six and, incredibly, there have been five draws. France do not fear the Boks. They also have the right mindset and are the more settled team.
Wynona Louw's predication: Springboks
The Springboks have a lot to make up for, and if ever there was a perfect time to get off to a good start, it would be now. The Boks will go up against a French side that’s far from full-strength, and home-ground advantage will certainly be a factor. And let’s not forget about those exciting SA players.
Vata Ngobeni's prediction: Springboks
Under new captain Warren Whiteley the Boks look like a team determined to win their opening Test against France at Loftus. The Springboks will beat the French as long as they play to their strengths and embrace the running game that will yield them tries.
Darryn Pollock's prediction: Springboks
Optimism is always present at the start of the season, but it is the level of the opposition, away from home, that will be the determining factor. France never tour well, and although they improved in the Six Nations, they didn’t set the competition alight. An average French side will aid the Boks’ performance.