Can Springboks’ Trevor Nyakane stamp World Cup ticket with top performance against Argentina?

Trevor Nyakane must show that he can still scrum opponents into the ground against Argentina tomorrow. Photo: Action Foto Sport/NurPhoto via AFP

Trevor Nyakane must show that he can still scrum opponents into the ground against Argentina tomorrow. Photo: Action Foto Sport/NurPhoto via AFP

Published Aug 4, 2023


The Springbok forwards will have to light the fire against Argentina in Buenos Aires tomorrow (9.10pm kick-off), and for a select few, the match will provide a last chance to put their hands up for Rugby World Cup selection.

While the focus will be on putting in a collective performance after scraping through 22-21 in last weekend’s Rugby Championship Test against the Pumas, those hoping to convince Bok management to pick them will look to go extra hard from the first whistle.

The last time the two teams played in the Argentinian capital, South Africa won 36-20 in a game dominated by the forwards.

They led 22-6 after 65 minutes, but a yellow card gave Argentina a sniff at the death.

Last weekend, the same happened when a yellow card gave the visitors a chance to secure victory at Ellis Park, and it’s those errors the Boks will have to cut out if they want to achieve another victory in South America.

One facet of play the Boks struggled to get rewarded in at Ellis Park was the scrum.

Although Frans Malherbe and Steven Kitshoff had the Argentinians under pressure, they could not milk the penalties the Bok scrum is known for.

This is where loosehead prop Trevor Nyakane can come in tomorrow night.

In 2019, he was unlucky to pick up an injury in the pool stages of the World Cup, and he will want to show that he can still scrum opponents into the ground.

Kitshoff is SA’s first-choice loosehead, but with Ox Nche still out injured, and Gerhard Steenekamp only making his debut off the bench, Nyakane can, with a steady performance, write his name down as the second-in-command behind Kitshoff.

If he can scrum the home side into submission tomorrow, and do what he normally does in loose play, it will go a long way in putting a “yes” tick next to his name.

The same goes for lock Jean Kleyn, who only recently made his debut.

The Boks are looking for an enforcer and also a line-out option who can split the workload with Eben Etzebeth during the World Cup, and that’s what the former Irish international can provide the side.

Kleyn will get the opportunity against the physical Argentinians to stake a last claim as he looks to make back-to-back Rugby World Cup appearances – but for two different countries.

Kleyn represented Ireland at the 2019 tournament, and with the European giants being one of the Boks’ opponents in the pool stage, he can be a valuable asset in France.

Tomorrow’s duel with Argentina should provide head coach Jacques Nienaber and director of rugby Rassie Erasmus with the answers they need on Kleyn, and whether he will be able to do the job in France.

Kleyn’s lock mate tomorrow, Marvin Orie, is in the exact boat, and it is unlikely that both players will make it to France.

SA already have an abundance of locks, so Bok management will probably have to toss a coin between the two.

Orie has proven himself over the last couple of seasons as someone willing to do the donkey work and grafting, and he’s grown his game significantly since making his Bok debut in 2018.

He can carry the ball, his defence around the fringes is excellent and he recently popped up as a brilliant link between the forwards and backs, as was the case against Australia.

Orie will hope to get some valuable minutes under his belt to show what he can bring to the World Cup party ahead of Tuesday’s squad announcement.