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Big discussion about Nkosi, Bok coach wants Jantjies ‘magic’ in second half against England

Springboks head coach Jacques Nienaber

FILE - Springboks head coach Jacques Nienaber. Photo: Phill Magakoe/AFP

Published Nov 16, 2021


Cape Town – There was a “big discussion” about whether Sbu Nkosi should return to the Springbok team, but coach Jacques Nienaber ultimately decided to stick with Jesse Kriel at right wing for Saturday’s Test against England.

Nkosi was a solid bet for the No 14 jersey before the Boks flew to Europe, due to the injured Cheslin Kolbe’s absence.

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But then the Sharks speedster was stuck in South Africa due to passport issues, and the delay in sorting out his visa provided Nienaber with an opportunity to explore an old plan from the 2019 season – having a look at outside centre Kriel at wing.

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The 27-year-old wasn’t really able to get into the game against Wales, but was much busier in last weekend’s 30-15 win over Scotland. Kriel seemed to find his feet as a wing, contributing with ball-carries and tackles, and that was enough to convince his coach.

It’s tough on Nkosi, though, as he is a specialist wing who has been waiting for his chance behind Kolbe.

“Ja, there was a big discussion in maybe getting Sbu back in the mix. Sbu joined us a little bit late… and I thought Jesse, from the first game against Wales and the step-up he made against Scotland – especially with all the variations Scotland can bring to their game – I thought he adapted well, and had a solid performance, a good performance,” Nienaber said on Tuesday.

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While Nkosi, and for that matter Aphelele Fassi, can count themselves unlucky to not even be in the match-23, Elton Jantjies can also feel unhappy about not starting at Twickenham (5.15pm SA time kickoff) after an assured display in the No 10 jersey at Murrayfield.

Handré Pollard is back at flyhalf, with the other Jantjies, Herschel – who struggled to get going against Wales and Scotland – also relegated to the bench in favour of Cobus Reinach.

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“We had certain internal goals and things we wanted to try out. I thought Elton was outstanding last weekend, and it’s good for us to give him a start,” the Bok mentor said.

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“I thought he performed well in the games that he started – he is really pushing hard. But I thought Handré did well when he came on, and with Elton on the bench, it gives us a little bit of versatility in the back-end of the game… depending on whether you are chasing the game, or if you are in control of the game, you can make certain substitutions.

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“Herschel and Elton bring something else to the game, and there is a bit of magic that happens when they are on the field.”

Springbok Team

15 Willie le Roux 14 Jesse Kriel 13 Lukhanyo Am 12 Damian de Allende 11 Makazole Mapimpi 10 Handré Pollard 9 Cobus Reinach 8 Duane Vermeulen 7 Kwagga Smith 6 Siya Kolisi (captain) 5 Lood de Jager 4 Eben Etzebeth 3 Trevor Nyakane 2 Bongi Mbonambi 1 Ox Nché.

Bench: 16 Malcolm Marx 17 Steven Kitshoff 18 Vincent Koch 19 Franco Mostert 20 Jasper Wiese 21 Herschel Jantjies 22 Elton Jantjies 23 Frans Steyn.


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