Sport / Rugby

Heinz Schenk
2 minute read
22 Nov 2018
4:17 pm

Final Springbok team of 2018 is actually a bizarre one

Heinz Schenk

Thought 2018 was a year of selection stability under coach Rassie Erasmus? Think again...

Eben Etzebeth during the South African national rugby team training session at WSC Treforest Grounds on November 19, 2018 in Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images)

The popular perception in 2018 has been that Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus has encouraged stability, especially in terms of selection.

Ironically or bizarrely (depending on one’s view), his starting line-up for the Saturday’s Test against Wales in Cardiff is actually the first time this season he has retained the same combination.

In fact, the only change to the whole match squad that beat Scotland 26-20 last week is Eben Etzebeth returning to the bench following a foot injury.

It’s hardly a big change given that the man he replaces, Lood de Jager, only made his return to competitive action on this tour and has looked a bit short on match fitness.

Erasmus’ priority for this match is clear: winning is all that’s going to count.

It will not only mean the Boks will end the year with a positive win record, it will also draw a line under a five-year losing streak over Wales on foreign soil.

That type of confidence boost before a World Cup year can prove invaluable.

“We will be desperate to win, and to end the tour on a high would be fantastic for the experience and growth of this squad,” said Erasmus.

The selection is rather tough on a man like Bongi Mbonambi, who’s shone as replacement on tour and could stake a claim for looking more dynamic than the overplayed Malcolm Marx, while Cheslin Kolbe also knocked hard on the door as a potential replacement for Aphiwe Dyantyi.

Dyantyi’s lukewarm performances on this tour suggests he needs a bit of a break.

After all, this stellar but whirlwind year would’ve taken its toll on any 24-year-old star.

Springboks: Willie le Roux, S’bu Nkosi, Jesse Kriel, Damian de Allende, Aphiwe Dyantyi, Handre Pollard, Embrose Papier, Duane Vermeulen, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Siya Kolisi, Franco Mostert, RG Snyman, Frans Malherbe, Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff. Bench: Bongi Mbonambi, Thomas du Toit, Vincent Koch, Eben Etzebeth, Francois Louw, Ivan van Zyl, Elton Jantjies, Cheslin Kolbe.

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