JOHANNESBURG – Springbok coach Allister Coetzee has remained faithful to several players this season, but it is time they repaid that trust shown in them.
Here are four players who need to be counted today, writes Jacques van der Westhuyzen...
The 26-year-old has started all 10 Tests this season but has yet to show the form that has made him such a key figure for the Lions in Super Rugby.
He’s scored just two tries in those matches – one each against Argentina and Australia; not a great return for someone whose biggest strength is his speed and try-scoring ability.
Skosan needs a big game today, especially in defence and under the high ball – and you can be sure he’s going to be targeted today after his troubles in Dublin – to justify his continued selection ahead of someone like Warrick Gelant.
Another player the coaching team have backed all season, but who has yet to fully convince he is good enough to be an international No 13.
There were moments in the early part of the international season when the 23-year-old showed good strength and speed, but against better opposition, he has been found wanting.
Kriel has, for the most part, been sound defensively, but he’s battled as an attacking weapon out wide and lacks flair and guile.
If he does not come good today, Lukhanyo Am will have to be considered next week.
Lood de Jager
Unfortunately, the former SA Rugby Player of the Year has failed to find the form that made him such a dangerous player in 2015, and one suspects he is on borrowed time as well.
For his size and athletic ability, De Jager does not dominate like he should – and once did – and it remains a mystery as to why the coaching team feel he is a better option than the industrious Franco Mostert, who, besides his lineout work, makes plenty of tackles and carries strongly over 80 minutes, and never tires.
De Jager will need a big one to stay next week.
The debate has raged ever since Steven Kitshoff returned to South Africa and got himself into the national picture: Should he start ahead of the highly experienced “Beast”?
And as the season’s gone on, the debate has become more vocal and robust.
Coetzee has largely stuck with Mtawarira, who hasn’t done anything wrong, but the few appearances Kitshoff has made have been worthy of more starts this year.
He’s not only solid in the scrums, but works extremely hard around the field... his time has come.