Springbok centre Andre Esterhuizen has the backing of Jaque Fourie ahead of their mammoth clash against France

Jaque Fourie feels Springbok center Andre Esterhuizen can do the job against France. Photo: AFP

Jaque Fourie feels Springbok center Andre Esterhuizen can do the job against France. Photo: AFP

Published Oct 13, 2023


Springbok legend Jaque Fourie is convinced that only one centre combination will do when South Africa take on France in an almighty World Cup quarter-final clash this weekend.

Fourie, a World Cup champion in 2007 and British & Irish Lions series winner two years later, arguably redefined the role during his tenure with the Boks in a career that spanned 11 years and 72 Test caps.

Now coaching at the Lions, Fourie spoke exclusively to Independent Media regarding who he would select at No 12 and 13.

The Boks have a number of options there, and their inner circle will have to think carefully on who they pick for Les Bleus at the Stade de France on Sunday (9pm kickoff).

The return of Lukhanyo Am has complicated matters, as they also consider Damian de Allende, Jesse Kriel, Andre Esterhuizen and Canan Moodie. But for 40-year-old Fourie, it is rather elementary.

“I enjoy Esterhuizen,” said Fourie at Wits University this week, after the Lions wrapped up their final pre-season match against the Bulls ahead of the new United Rugby Championship season.

“He gets over the advantage line and he is a big momentum-stopper. Moodie has also been playing well.

“He is just a natural ball-player, so you can play him any time.

“Yes, Am is back, but he hasn’t played in three months. It will be a tough ask going into a quarter-final against one of the top five teams in the world.

“He has the ability, but he lacks game time.

“That would be my centrepairing: Andre and Moodie.”

The bookies have France as the odds-on favourites to beat the defending champions, but Fourie remains hopeful that the Boks will cause an upset with a victory that will keep them on course to lift the Webb Ellis Cup for a fourth time.

“It is going to be a tough game,” he said.

“There are a lot of factors that come into play and, hopefully, we can stick to our plan.

“If we can bully them and put their No 9 (possibly Antoine Dupont or Maxime Lucu) under pressure, then we have a chance.

“They are also very physical, and they will want to match us there. It is going to come down to the team that uses their chances. It was the same against Ireland.

“It’s do or die.

“This, for me, will be our toughest game we are probably going to play. Ireland, I think we could have beaten.

“So, for me, France was always going to be – looking at the draw – the toughest to beat in France. We have a good chance. If we beat them, we will go all the way to the final.”