JOHANNESBURG – Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus was always going to be on a hiding to nothing when it came to his team selection ahead of the final Test of their end-of-year tour against Wales in Cardiff.
And so he has followed his gut and gone for his tried-and-tested charges as he made no changes to the starting team that beat Scotland last weekend, with only Eben Etzebeth coming onto the bench in place of Lood de Jager.
There will surely be some complaints regarding Erasmus’ failure for not having given opportunities to certain members of his squad.
And there is merit in those complaints as the likes of Trevor Nyakane, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, JD Schickerling, Ruhan Nel and Sergeal Petersen have had to watch from the stands. But the truth of the matter is that Erasmus just did not have the time and opportunity to blood in some of the players especially considering how the Boks began their tour with that controversial loss against England at Twickenham.
So it didn’t come as a surprise that Erasmus opted not to make any changes to his starting team as victory will be paramount over handing out caps for the sake of it.
There is little that the second row of Franco Mostert and RG Snyman can be faultered for while the loose-trio combination of Siya Kolisi, Pieter-Steph du Toit and Duane Vermeulen looks like the strongest and most favoured by Erasmus.
He has also done well in retaining the halfback combination of Embrose Papier and Handre Pollard as they both played with intent and gave the team direction on attack in the game against Scotland. It is obvious that Erasmus is looking for cohesion and consistency in results, and that only comes with a consistency in team selection which is amplified by his predictable selections in midfield and with that potent back three.
An unchanged Springbok starting side will take on @WelshRugbyUnion in the final Test of the 2018 season, in Cardiff on Saturday. The only change is on the bench, where @EbenEtzebeth comes in for @LooD_Jager. #boksontour #loverugby @CastleLagerSA @ASICS_ZA @MTNza pic.twitter.com/XYzXJebpiE— South African Rugby (@Springboks) November 22, 2018
Winning for Erasmus will be the ultimate barometer for which he will be judged by this year.
The Springboks team is:
Willie Le Roux, Sbu Nkosi, Jesse Kriel, Damian de Allende, Aphiwe Dyantyi, Handre Pollard, Embrose Papier, Duane Vermeulen, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Siya Kolisi (captain), Franco Mostert, RG Snyman, Frans Malherbe, Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff.
Bongi Mbonambi, Thomas du Toit, Vincent Koch, Eben Etzebeth, Francois Louw, Ivan van Zyl, Elton Jantjies, Cheslin Kolbe.@Vata_Ngobeni