Sport / Rugby

Heinz Schenk
3 minute read
17 Nov 2018
9:27 am

Four Springboks with a point to prove at Murrayfield

Heinz Schenk

Given Rassie Erasmus' mixture between youth and experience, it's unsurprising that these candidates are either rookies or established stars.

Aphiwe Dyantyi during the South African national rugby team training session at Peffermill Sports Fields on November 15, 2018 in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images)

The Springboks’ year-end tour in Europe is back on track (sort of) after last week’s last-gasp victory over France in Paris.

While coach Rassie Erasmus has said that the win has allowed him to a bit of freedom to make selection, it’s not necessarily his changes that are under pressure to perform.

Instead, a few stalwarts in 2018 have slacked off as fatigue – physically and mentally – affect their form.

Here are four players with a point to prove with the season coming to an end.

SIYA KOLISI

Siya Kolisi (captain) of South Africa during the Castle Lager Outgoing Tour match between England and South Africa at Twickenham Stadium on November 03, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images)

2018 is not a year the Bok skipper will forget quickly.

There have been some dizzying highs – like being installed as captain and impressing to such an extent in the Rugby Championship that the All Blacks’ coaching staff considered him South Africa’s best player.

Yet the versatile loose forward has also had to combat doubts about his own form at the start of the international season and now seems to have tailed off as his workload takes its toll.

While his tackling remains solid throughout, it’s those trademark bursts and link play that’s gone missing to date.

The Boks will hope he can summon one last burst of energy to silence the critics … he certainly has a more balanced loose trio to support him.

WILLIE LE ROUX

Willie le Roux. Photo: Gallo Images.

It’s undeniable that the mercurial fullback is a vital cog in the Springbok machine.

His playmaking abilities add punch to Erasmus’ more pragmatic attacking pattern, especially when his skip pass allows the backline to attack the wider channels.

Last week’s outing was not a good one for the experienced 29-year-old.

He didn’t do his basics particularly well and his decision-making needs to be spot-on on Saturday, especially since he’s anointed as the “father figure” in the back three.

A high-tempo Scottish game could suit his strengths and Le Roux will be keen to show his shift in Paris was a blip on the radar.

APHIWE DYANTYI

The gifted winger’s mediocre performances on tour are hardly an indictment on his ability.

His nomination as World Rugby’s rookie-of-the-year attests to how he’s taken the international scene by storm.

European conditions have been a bit of a leveller for him, though it doesn’t mean he hasn’t adjusted at all.

Dyantyi’s struggles seem to be more mental, almost as if he’s overthinking his game.

He still tends to place his defence under pressure by shooting too early out of the line, while his hands under the high ball need to be more secure.

Nonetheless, if the Lions star just takes a deep breath and maybe just keep things a bit simpler, he’d flourish.

EMBROSE PAPIER

Embrose Papier of South Africa during the Castle Lager Outgoing Tour match between England and South Africa at Twickenham Stadium on November 03, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images)

The rookie 21-year-old scrumhalf can view his first Test start from two perspectives.

He’s either under massive pressure because of all the clamouring for his selection, especially after Faf de Klerk’s lukewarm showing in Paris and the fact that the Bulls playmaker himself was pretty impressive as substitute at Twickenham.

Or he can simply play with the knowledge that he’s been rewarded for his patience and can only learn from this experience.

That doesn’t mean he has a free pass to be poor, but he certainly doesn’t need the added pressure of overblown expectations.

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