PORT ELIZABETH - The release of Oupa Mohoje for Currie Cup duty could open the Springbok No 7 door for Sharks loose forward Jean-Luc du Preez as coach Allister Coetzee considers his loose forward options for the opening Rugby Championship game against Argentina in Port Elizabeth.
Cheetahs flank Mohoje, Bulls fullback Warrick Gelant, Bulls prop Lizo Gqoboka, Cheetahs centre Francois Venter and Stormers utility back Dillyn Leyds are the players who were released to their respective unions on Tuesday for Currie Cup duty, and thus won’t be considered for the Test on Saturday (5pm kickoff).
In the first two Tests against France in Pretoria and Durban, injured skipper Warren Whiteley, Mohoje and Siya Kolisi formed the loose trio, and in the last Test in Johannesburg, Jean-Luc du Preez started at No 8 in the absence of Mohoje, who suffered a concussion in the second Test.
Mahoje was a good lineout option for the Boks in their series whitewash over France and his release could mean that Du Preez starts against the Pumas. Cheetahs man Uzair Cassiem, who can pack down anywhere in the back row, could start at No 8 against the Argentinians, with the other No 8 option being the twin brother of Jean-Luc, Dan.
Van Graan added that Cassiem’s back-row versatility was also a positive, so it looks like the loose trio for PE might well be Kolisi, Jean-Luc du Preez and Cassiem.
Meanwhile, Bok attack coach Franco Smith was satisfied with the effort and the physical conditioning of the Springbok group over the last 10 days.
“The team are in a good place. They’ve trained very well over the past 10 days. You could see that the excitement was there and that these guys care about each other,” Smith said.
“Everybody trained well. At this stage we’re very satisfied with how the players have reacted and the condition that they’re in, so we’re very excited to tackle this Rugby Championship.”
Another goal of the Bok assistant coach is to enhance their attacking game.
During a press conference at the team hotel on Tuesday, Smith said that they were looking forward to playing more attacking rugby, and added that the Boks are aiming to mix attack with their DNA.
“We’re excited about (playing) attacking rugby,” Smith said. “We don’t want to be like somebody, for me it’s about using our ability, our strength and our DNA and add a bit to it to prove to the world that we are skilfull and we can play ball-in-hand. We are excited about it, but we’re not getting carried away.”