CAPE TOWN – The Springboks have arrived in Buenos Aires ahead of Saturday’s return clash against Argentina in Mendoza.
The Boks had a recovery session on Tuesday morning upon arrival in the Argentine capital, and a field practice later in the day.
But while they got their Rugby Championship off to a solid start with a bonus-point 34-21 win over Los Pumas in Durban at the weekend, coach Rassie Erasmus knows it won’t be as easy to recover from a 14-5 deficit in Mendoza.
There are also the bigger clashes to come against the Wallabies and All Blacks, so Erasmus will have to change a few things to get the Boks ready…
1 Sort out Handré Pollard’s goal-kicking
Two out of seven in Durban was simply not good enough from Pollard. The Bok coach has already said that he is the first-choice flyhalf ahead of Elton Jantjies. Yes, Kings Park is usually a difficult venue to aim at goal, but Pollard can’t afford such a record in Mendoza, let alone against the Wallabies and All Blacks.
2 Give Embrose Papier a start
Faf de Klerk is now the No 1 scrumhalf, but what happens if gets injured? Ivan van Zyl made a solid debut against Wales in Washington, but now is the time to unleash wunderkind Embrose Papier, especially with Ross Cronjé left at home. Papier is dynamite, so let’s see if he can do it at the highest level in front of an imposing crowd.
3 Settle on a loose trio
Erasmus said Francois Louw was coming off a pre-season with Bath, but is the Louw-Kolisi-Whiteley trio the right one? I think the Bok coach may be waiting for Cyle Brink to recover from injury to play a traditional blindside role, and Duane Vermeulen could also feature at No 7 in future. Marco van Staden may get a chance at openside flank in Mendoza.
4 Fix the lineout issues
Talking about the loose trio, Pieter-Steph du Toit may return to No 7 in Mendoza, as Franco Mostert was rested last week and is in the tour squad. Erasmus will hope having the Lions man back will assist Malcolm Marx, who missed the mark (sorry!) in the first half in Durban.
5 Time for Steven Kitshoff to wear the No 1 jersey
Tendai Mtawarira has enjoyed a renaissance of late at loosehead prop, but Steven Kitshoff reminded everybody once more of his barnstorming ability as a ball-carrier and in general play in the second half in Durban. He deserves to start this weekend, and if he can match his cameos off the bench, he could convince Erasmus to hand him the No 1 jersey going forward.