PRETORIA - As exciting a prospect it will be for Springbok coach Allister Coetzee to field a new and revamped loose trio, he will be tossing and turning in his bed in Cardiff over the battle readiness of the players that will be wearing the No's 6, 7 and 8.
With Duane Vermeulen and Francois Louw not available for Saturday’s Test against Wales because it is outside World Rugby’s international window, Coetzee will certainly have to go with new players with the returning Siya Kolisi all but guaranteed a spot, while Dan du Preez, Oupa Mohoje and Uzair Cassiem will have to battle it for the remaining two places.
Even though Coetzee will have another option amongst the loose forwards with Pieter-Steph du Toit, the truth of the matter is that the Stormers and Western Province man is more effective in the second row and the time has come for the experiment with him at blindside flank to come to an end.
Coetzee will have to move Du Toit back to the second row anyway with Franco Mostert also being unavailable because of club commitments, leaving Coetzee with somewhat of an eased selection headache having to select two starters out of three players.
While Coetzee has taken a liking towards Du Preez and catapulted him above Mohoje and Cassiem, who were amongst the few performers in the national team last year and this year, his preference for brute force and bulky ball carriers will come into conflict with what Mohoje and Cassiem put on the table.
There is no denying that Du Preez, like his twin brother Jean-Luc, are certainties for the future but surely must wait their turn behind the more experienced and capable Mohoje and Cassiem.
In fact, Mohoje should have been treated better by Coetzee since returning from his concussion injury which he sustained in the second Test against France in June.
Not only has Mohoje had to suck the hind tit in the aftermath of returning from his injury, he has suffered the same undignified treatment many black players have endured on these end-of-year tours of carrying tackle bags and water bottles.
Mohoje is a logical starter at No 7 as a strong ball carrier and defender but more importantly as the back of the line-out option that Coetzee has waxed lyrically about in the two years in charge of the national team.
With Kolisi a dead certainty at six and Mohoje the logical selection at seven, it leaves Coetzee with the tricky choice of going with his new favourite Du Preez at eighthman or the evergreen Cassiem, who coincidentally made his Test debut against Wales just over a year ago.
Cassiem also suffered the same fate as Mohoje after getting injured in the Test against Australia in Bloemfontein and logic dictates that he deserves than being relevant on the training field alone and must feature prominently in Coetzee’s thoughts for a number eight in place of Vermeulen.
Kolisi, Mohoje and Cassiem look and sound like the perfect fit and they will also be a boost for transformation, an area where Coetzee has a dismal record since taking over the reins of the national team 17 months ago.
Coetzee is set to select his matchday 23 to face wales on Thursday afternoon. Kick-off is 4.30pm on Saturday.