COMMENT: Why Kurt-Lee Arendse should be picked ahead of Makazole Mapimpi for the Springboks

South Africa's wing Kurt-Lee Arendse (right) evades Australia's wing Suliasi Vunivalu during their Rugby Championship clash

Replacing the red-hot Kurt-Lee Arendse with winger Makazole Mapimpi did not work out for the Springboks if you look at how the All Blacks targeted him writes Leighton Koopman. Seen here: South Africa's wing Kurt-Lee Arendse (right) evades Australia's wing Suliasi Vunivalu. Picture: Wikus de Wet/AFP

Published Jul 24, 2023


There were plenty of questions after hattrick hero against Australia, winger Kurt-Lee Arendse, was dropped for the Test against the All Blacks after putting in a stellar performance in the Springboks' first match of the year.

And the questions were justified because how is a guy who scored three tries the one week left out of the match-day squad the next week?

Although Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber explained the thinking behind the selections for that game in New Zealand, replacing the red-hot Arendse with winger Makazole Mapimpi did not work out if you look at how the All Blacks targeted him.

The World Cup winner was dominated in the air by his opposite winger Will Jordan who had a field day running with the ball in hand. Mapimpi also had very limited chances on attack because he depends more on his fellow backs to put him into space.

Arendse, on the other hand, finished some magical tries against the Wallabies, his third probably the best as he left about three defenders grasping at air trying to stop him as he stepped and wiggled through the smallest of gaps to barge over.

And that little bit of magic, created in almost no space, is what the Boks missed against New Zealand.

Everybody knows Cheslin Kolbe, the other flight-footed Bok winger, is being watched like a hawk nowadays, and he is afforded little space with the ball as was the case against in Auckland.

In Mapimpi, the Boks have a lethal finisher with pace, but his flaws were exposed there's no doubt about that.

He is not a stepper like Arendse and Kolbe, under the high ball he was not as secure and on defence he was beaten a few times.

Arendse on the other hand has so far not let the Boks down on attack and defence, and it's about time he gets regular time on the wing.

He can spark an attacking moment with the sway of his hips and a step off his left or right foot. He stays in the fight when making tackles on players bigger than him and can kick the ball when needed. His aerial play is also top quality.

Giving the Paarl-born speedster regular minutes ahead of the Rugby World Cup will benefit the player and team.

It doesn't mean Mapimpi should be discarded because he still has a pivotal role to play in the Springboks' campaign to defend their world title, but Arendse is the future in the number 11 jersey.

So far, the winger has scored eight tries in ten Tests and will be eager to add to that tally.

He is in fine form and the Boks should make use of that by playing him in every match ahead of their title defence in France.


IOL Sport

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