For the past week, the Springboks have talked a lot about the need to balance short-term, positive results with a longer term perspective past next year’s World Cup.
That was evident in national coach Rassie Erasmus’ match 23 for Saturday’s Rugby Championship opener against Argentina in Durban.
In general, there’s a strong, experienced spine for this match, particularly among the forwards.
As expected, an athletic loose trio of Warren Whiteley, captain Siya Kolisi and Francois Louw has been assembled, while the Stormers duo of Pieter-Steph du Toit and Eben Etzebeth has been reunited.
The backs aren’t quite as settled but there are nonetheless no newcomers from the England series in June.
There will be hope, however, that the Sharks partnership of Lukhanyo Am and Andre Esterhuizen will blossom as both have had difficult starts to their international careers.
Sometimes, the best combinations at this level are the ones that work at domestic level as well.
It’s on the bench where Erasmus is hedging his bets in grooming a few future stars.
The stocky Marco van Staden is included for his physicality and ball-poaching ability, while Embrose Papier and Damian Willemse continue being fast-tracked to international rugby.
Marvin Orie’s hard work at the Lions has been rewarded and his teammate, Lionel Mapoe, looks a decent option given that he can play both centre and wing.
Springboks: Willie le Roux, Makazole Mapimpi, Lukhanyo Am, Andre Esterhuizen, Aphiwe Dyantyi, Handre Pollard, Faf de Klerk, Warren Whiteley, Siya Kolisi (c), Francois Louw, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Eben Etzebeth, Frans Malherbe, Malcolm Marx, Beast Mtawarira. Bench: Bongi Mbonambi, Steven Kitshoff, Thomas du Toit, Marvin Orie, Marco van Staden, Embrose Papier, Lione Mapoe, Damian Willemse.