Sport / Rugby

Heinz Schenk
3 minute read
7 Sep 2018
4:51 pm

Four questions the Springboks need to answer in Brisbane

Heinz Schenk

Rassie Erasmus' revival is on hold and there's little guarantee that they'll break their hoodoo against the Wallabies in Queensland.

Malcolm Marx throws the ball during a South African Springboks captain's run at Suncorp Stadium on September 7, 2018 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

The Springboks need a victory against the Wallabies in Brisbane on Saturday to get their Rugby Championship campaign back on track.

A comprehensive loss to Argentina in Mendoza has plunged the national team back into uncertainty as pressure mounts on Rassie Erasmus to keep his revival going.

But there’ll be precious little guarantee of the Boks toppling a home side that are also struggling yet also highly motivated.

Here are four key questions they’ll need to answer if their going to win.

Is this actually Erasmus’ first-choice combination?

When the Boks came back from Argentina, Erasmus stated pertinently that the defeat that thrown all of his plans for experimentation out of the window.

That’s a reasonable statement to make until one actually takes a closer look at the side he’s selected for this match.

Is Bongi Mbonambi now ahead of Malcolm Marx in the No 2 jersey?

Elton Jantjies was explicitly named as Handre Pollard’s deputy. Have two Tests changed that?

Are Damian de Allende and Jesse Kriel higher up the pecking order than Lukhanyo Am and Andre Esterhuizen because they played a World Cup together?

Something doesn’t add up to the whole “It’s now all about winning”-narrative.

Can Jantjies stand up?

Erasmus has a backline consultant in Swys de Bruin who can tell him exactly what the benefits are of backing Elton Jantjies.

The Lions pivot has been thrust into the flyhalf position for the match, displacing Handre Pollard after two substandard outings.

Jantjies has been erratic at Test level but there’s a sense here that his latest promotion isn’t a random throw of the dice.

Erasmus has previously made very good arguments for including Jantjies – notably that a players who’s led his franchise to three Super Rugby finals can’t be ignored – and has cultivated a perception that he rates him far higher than some may be willing to believe.

Jantjies is a confidence player and if he picks up on these positive vibes, he’ll perform well.

Just ask the Lions…

Is the loose trio balance better?

When you have Warren Whiteley and Siya Kolisi in the same combination, you can bet on finesse and dedication.

Yes, the Springbok skipper showed some flashes of brilliance in Mendoza as a ball-carrier but he’s not a flanker that always dominates his collisions.

Whiteley, for all his good qualities, hasn’t dominated once at international level.

As a result, Erasmus has brought in Pieter-Steph du Toit to be the enforcer among the three, the uncompromising, ugly workhorse.

However, that combination now lacks attackers at the breakdown.

Francois Louw and Malcolm Marx, both on the bench, could influence that battle later on but will it be too late against the wily Aussie flankers?

Does the bench have enough oomph?

The last 20 minutes of a Test are vital in terms of fresh, dynamic players coming onto the field to make a difference.

In some respects, the Boks have some excellent options – Malcolm Marx, Cheslin Kolbe and Handre Pollard.

Yet there will be question marks over some others.

Beast Mtawarira and Francois Louw are established veterans, who are probably more suited to starting roles unless the period they need to bring increased intensity to the Boks game is limited.

Louw in particular has looked off the pace and might find a frantic 20 minutes difficult if current form is a barometer.

Wilco Louw also still needs to convince that he’s a busy ball-carrier and not just a scrumming prop.

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