CAPE TOWN – Just who should pack down in the front row for the Springboks against the All Blacks on Saturday?
Bok coach Rassie Erasmus will name his team on Thursday afternoon at 1.30pm, and has a number of options among the big men.
Tendai Mtawarira, Malcolm Marx and Frans Malherbe started in the 23-12 win over the Wallabies in Port Elizabeth last week, with Steven Kitshoff, Bongi Mbonambi and Wilco Louw on the bench.
It was slightly different in the 36-34 triumph over the All Blacks in Wellington, with Kitshoff wearing the No 1 jersey and Mtawarira among the substitutes…
Tendai Mtawarira, Steven Kitshoff, Trevor Nyakane
Rassie Erasmus already intimated last week, when naming Mtawarira at No 1, that it might be the other way around against the All Blacks.
But should it be? Kitshoff is renowned for his impact off the bench, while Mtawarira is a better starter than he is a finisher.
Nyakane has been working on his physical fitness under the Bok medical team’s watch, and is unlikely to feature.
Verdict: Kitshoff must start, with Mtawarira on the bench.
We fight until the very end. Great weekend, thanks PE! New challenge ahead of us. 👊🏼 pic.twitter.com/KpEtnWhmbi
Contenders: Malcolm Marx, Bongi Mbonambi, Schalk Brits
Few Bok fans will forget how Mbonambi was hauled off before halftime in Brisbane, following his lineout-throwing gaffe that resulted in a try for the Wallabies.
But the Stormers man was unfairly taken off, with Erasmus saying he had emptied his tank.
The concern is that Marx is also shaky at times when under pressure in the lineout, and All Black No 5 Sam Whitelock is the best jumper in the world.
And what about Schalk Brits? The 37-year-old has been used largely as a ‘mentor’ up to now, but surely he must be in the squad on his merits as a player?
Verdict: Marx must start, with Mbonambi on the bench.
Contenders: Frans Malherbe, Wilco Louw, Vincent Koch, Trevor Nyakane
This position is even more hotly contested than the No 1 jersey, especially with the addition of Koch into the mix.
Malherbe is certainly an Erasmus favourite, but for me, Louw is the more destructive scrummager.
He would be able to provide that go-forward and even win penalties at the set-piece.
Malherbe has a much higher work-rate, particularly in defence, so he can make a real impact in the last 30 minutes.
Could Erasmus spring a surprise with Koch? He is highly regarded for his power in the scrums, but having not featured last week, it would be a big call to make to include him.
Verdict: Louw must start, with Malherbe on the bench.
Marco and Wilco giving the airbike a proper workout! 💪 pic.twitter.com/LKcmf2G5J9