CAPE TOWN – He is an excitement machine when it’s going well, although sometimes Springbok fans want to pull their hair out when his hands let him down.
But there’s no doubt that Willie le Roux is currently the best fullback in South African rugby, and he will line up for his 50th Test cap in the biggest showdown of them all – the All Blacks.
Le Roux almost didn’t make it for this weekend, after SA Rugby said initially that he is unavailable for the last two Rugby Championship Tests against Australia and New Zealand due to club duty at Wasps.
But after going back to his English club and playing two weeks ago, he was allowed to rejoin Rassie Erasmus’ squad in Port Elizabeth.
Not everything went his way in the 23-12 victory over the Wallabies, but he was on fire when the Boks toppled the All Blacks 36-34 in Wellington last month, and will hope for a similar performance at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
“Willie has grown immensely since making his debut five years ago and his calm influence at the back, as well as his experience, will be vital on Saturday. He deserves this accolade,” Erasmus said on Thursday.
The 29-year-old playmaker hails from Strand in the Western Cape, and made his Test debut against Italy in Durban in 2013.
Le Roux will again team up with Cheslin Kolbe and Aphiwe Dyantyi, and some fireworks can be expected from the speedy back-three on what is set to be a warm day in Pretoria.
“They will test us in every department,” said Erasmus about the All Blacks.
“The All Blacks usually hit hard back after a loss, so we have to be mentally and physically ready for a massive contest.
“We will have to front up in defence and be clinical when we are creating chances, because the All Blacks punish you for errors and missed opportunities.
“The Springboks versus All Blacks at a packed Loftus, I think it’s going to be a special occasion.”
15 Willie le Roux 14 Cheslin Kolbe 13 Jesse Kriel 12 Damian de Allende 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi 10 Handré Pollard 9 Faf de Klerk 8 Francois Louw 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit 6 Siya Kolisi (captain) 5 Franco Mostert 4 Eben Etzebeth 3 Frans Malherbe 2 Malcolm Marx 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Bench: 16 Bongi Mbonambi 17 Tendai Mtawarira 18 Vincent Koch 19 RG Snyman 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe 21 Embrose Papier 22 Elton Jantjies 23 Damian Willemse.