Cheslin Kolbe was on form in the Springboks win over Japan in their warm-up match. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix
 Cheslin Kolbe or Sbu Nkosi?

Of all the decisions Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus has had to make ahead of the World Cup, this must surely be one of the toughest.

It is, of course, only a factor if Erasmus has plans for the sizzling duo on the right wing exclusively.

Until now, not even as a comparison but on form alone, Kolbe has proven that he deserves to start. But the pure quality of Nkosi also makes him a Bok-must.

In their warm-up game against Japan in Kumagaya on Friday, the Boks secured a 41-7 win, with Kolbe and Makazole Mapimpi starting on the right left wings respectively.

One would imagine that at this point, should Erasmus not be considering to move one of them into the slightly less-familiar No 11 jumper, a rotational approach would probably be the easiest way to go. But who would get the nod in the big games?

While moving either Kolbe or Nkosi to the left wing would mean that Mapimpi misses out, it’s also a shame not starting the two form flyers together.

If using one of them on the left wing was an option to Erasmus, the Japan game would have been the perfect - and last - opportunity to do so before the World Cup kicks off.

Sure, that can still be the case against Italy, Namibia and Canada, but perhaps such an experiment outside of the World Cup would have produced some calming knowledge for the Bok coach before the real business starts.

Looking at this season, few could really say that Kolbe and Nkosi are not the form wingers.

Mapimpi’s hat-trick in Kumagaya was certainly a treat, but more will have to be delivered by the top finisher to erase any talk of defensive struggles and make him a clear choice over Kolbe and Nkosi.

Nkosi’s showing against Argentina with a brace of tries at Loftus was superb. Kolbe has been one of the most consistently-performing Boks, maintaining his effort and endless energy in every single Test he’s played for the Boks until now.

His versatility also does enough to suggest that he wouldn’t be completely out of place on the left wing - regardless of the position-specific demands of the two roles.

Looking at the wing options, there’s probably no wrong choice. Kolbe, Nkosi and Mapimpi are all good enough to be first-choice for the Springboks, and the fact that they’re not lacking form adds to their appeal.

But looking at what Nkosi and Kolbe (especially) have done in 2019, it almost feels criminal that one of them would have to miss out at some point.

Will Erasmus rotate them, will he look into using Kolbe at No 11 or will the Toulouse sensation and Mapimpi be his first-choice speedsters?

Again, none would be a bad call and it’s a good problem to have, but Kolbe and Nkosi sure make for an appeal-packed pairing.


Cape Argus

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