BLOEMFONTEIN – Willie le Roux will cover flyhalf for the Boks this Saturday in what amounts to a risky move for the second Test against England.
Bok coach Rassie Erasmus has reiterated at the start of the Test season that he will not be conservative in selection, and he proved it once again on Thursday by dropping Elton Jantjies out of the match-day 23, while bringing in centre Jesse Kriel.
Erasmus confirmed at Thursday's team announcement press conference that Kriel's inclusion was based on his extra pace, and the Boks' desire to up the tempo of the game in the second half when impact substitutes are deployed.
In all likelihood, it means that Erasmus will be looking for flyhalf Handre Pollard to play for the full 80 minutes, with Le Roux providing the only real cover at 10.
Le Roux has played at flyhalf at domestic level before, but it would be a big ask of the fullback if Pollard were to suffer an injury early on.
It's a risk that Erasmus believes is worth taking, while he also confirmed on Thursday that Faf de Klerk would provide another emergency option at flyhalf. The diminutive scrumhalf will also provide the goal-kicking cover.
What this selection debate also reveals is a relative lack of depth that the Boks have at flyhalf. Elton Jantjies struggled when he came off the bench last Saturday, and he has now fallen relatively out of favour.
It's believed that he will be heading overseas to play in France after Super Rugby, and so one has to wonder whether this might be the end of the Bok road for the Lions star.
In terms of other specialist flyhalf options, Rob du Preez remains in the squad, and should the Boks clinch the series against England this Saturday, then the Sharks pivot may well feature in the final Test.
It also remains to be seen whether Erasmus will back talented youngsters such as Damian Willemse and Curwin Bosch down the line. Willemse is currently recovering from a knee injury suffered while on duty with the Junior Boks, while Bosch was recently released from the Bok camp after starting against Wales at the beginning of the month.
There is the possibility that the Boks could also consider overseas-based Frans Steyn as one other flyhalf option if he becomes available for the Rugby Championship.
For now, though, the Springboks head into Saturday's second Test with no specialist limited flyhalf cover.
African News Agency (ANA)