CAPE TOWN - Of course rugby is a team sport, but there should be some cracking individual battles at Newlands on Saturday when the Springboks and the All Blacks write the latest chapter in their illustrious tradition.
Malcolm Marx vs Dane Coles
While hard-running hooker Marx is an absolute thrill to watch, his technical work at the lineouts is still hot and cold - and it’s an area where South Africa can’t afford to produce a dismal display again. But more of the Lions front-rower’s powerful runs combined with a fend that sends opponents flying and his ball-handling know-how will certainly be appreciated by the Springbok fans.
Earlier this week, the All Blacks’ dynamic No 2 Dane Coles said that he likes to have a go with ball-in-hand - something that we all could have guessed. But Coles also masters his basics as a hooker, while his spells out wide - where he puts his pace, skill, and ability to find his way to the tryline on show - make him an added “backline” threat.
Elton Jantjies vs Beauden Barrett
A flyhalf who can create an attacking masterclass, Elton Jantjies is a threat with his ability to take the ball to the line at pace, his vision, ability to read the game and to put his players into space. But his boot - one that has been mostly reliable when it came to slotting those Rugby Championship penalty kicks - will also be an an important weapon against the All Blacks.
I said that Jantjies can produce an attacking masterclass, so I’m not quite sure how to describe Beauden Barrett’s attacking artistry - maybe just like that; attacking artistry. The Kiwi pivot has terrorised opposition defences with his pin-point kick passes, electrifying pace, seemingly innate ability to spot a gap, pace and his ability to handle the ball like he invented the Gilbert himself. All in all, this flyhalf battle, or treat, might be one for fans to chew in delight for a long time.