Springboks coach Allister Coetzee talks to his players during a training session. Photo: Chris Ricco/BackpagePix

The Springboks are in Europe this month for back-to-back Tests against Ireland, France, Italy and Wales.

Jacques van der Westhuyzen and Vata Ngobeni highlight some key issues that will be under scrutiny in the coming weeks.

Ireland

The last time the Boks were in Dublin, on November 8, 2014, it was the home team that won, 29-15.

The only players in that match-day squad who may feature in some capacity on Saturday are Tendai Mtawarira, Eben Etzebeth, Oupa Mohoje, Handré Pollard, Trevor Nyakane and Coenie Oosthuizen; the rest of the players from that day’s team are no longer part of the current squad.

And, in June last year, when the Irish visited South Africa, the Boks just got home, winning the series 2-1 but no more than six points separated the teams on all three occasions.

Warrick Gelant will look to make an impact of the Springboks on their end of year tour. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix


France

It’ll be the fourth meeting between the teams this season after the Tricolours toured here in June.

It wasn’t their best squad and they duly took a beating; the Boks winning all three matches, with very similar scorelines: 37-14, 37-15 and 35-12.

Those defeats would not have gone down well in France and they’re said to have put in plenty of work since then to be more of a force this month.

The last time the Boks were in Paris they won 19-10, on November 23, 2013.

The four Bok starters that day who are on tour now are Mtawarira, Oosthuizen, Etzebeth and Francois Louw.

Italy

Who will forget the events of a year ago when, against the odds, Italy got up to beat the Boks 20-18 in Florence on November 19?

In an awful performance by Allister Coetzee’s men that summed up a year of poor showings, the visitors never got going and struggled throughout the match.

Interestingly, the loose trio that day was Nizaam Carr, Willem Alberts and Warren Whiteley, while Damian de Allende and Francois Venter manned the midfield.

In the 2014 meeting in Padova, the Boks won 22-6, venue for this month’s meeting.

Wilco Louw will look to continue with his fine from the Currie Cup on the international stage on the Springboks end of year tour. Photo: Chris Ricco/BackpagePix


Wales

The last match of the November tour always seems to be the hardest, with players thinking of home and getting a rest after a long year.

And this time around, the likes of Elton Jantjies, Franco Mostert and Francois Louw will be missing because the match falls outside the international Test window, meaning they will be required to return to their overseas-based clubs.

And Wales will be very tough opposition.

They beat the Boks 27-13 at the end of November last year, while at the World Cup the year before, the Boks again got up, to win 23-19 in the quarter-finals.


Sunday Independent

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