Ross Roche

By Ross Roche

Senior sports writer


Boks’ confidence boost ahead of England clash; big selection calls await

Bok wing Kurt-Lee Arendse was in scintillating form against Italy, running in two tries while also assisting another.


The Springboks will be a confident outfit as they turn their sights to their final end-of-year-tour match against England at Twickenham this coming weekend, after they hammered Italy 63-21 in Genoa at the weekend.

After two tight losses against Ireland and France in their opening two games, the Boks emphatically bounced back with a ruthless performance against the Italians, and they will now take a lot of momentum into the England match.

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Despite the confidence gained from the Italian result, Bok hooker Malcolm Marx cautioned that the team could still improve as they prepare to take on England, who themselves will be buoyed after they fought back to draw against New Zealand in a thriller at Twickenham.

“We are very happy. We just did what we could. The previous two weeks didn’t go our way, but I think what the guys did today and the way we stood up was absolutely awesome,” said Marx.

“It is a big confidence booster. Obviously there is always room for improvement and we will look at those things and try and improve going into the new week.

“I would say we are on the right track. The previous two weeks weren’t the results that we wanted, but the guys showed great character in both those games.”

Scintillating form

Bok wing Kurt-Lee Arendse was in scintillating form against Italy, running in two tries while also assisting another and he will be a key weapon against England.

He has now scored six tries in six games since making his debut against Wales in July, and is fast becoming an indispensable member of the team, but notes he still has much to learn in the setup.

“We had a plan for Italy and we stuck to it, so I am happy and really proud of the guys. It felt amazing to score and contribute to the team and I am just happy that we got the win,” said Arendse after the game.

“Enjoying ourselves was part of the plan. We said we needed some energy after our two losses, so we brought it and it paid off. I think there is still a few things I can learn, so I will just keep doing what I am doing.”

Decisions

Bok boss Jacques Nienber will have some big decisions to make ahead of the England clash as Vincent Koch, Trevor Nyakane, Jasper Wiese, Cobus Reinach, Andre Esterhuizen, Cheslin Kolbe and Lood de Jager (injured) are not available because the Test falls outside the international window.

Thomas du Toit, Ntuthuko Mchunu, Marco van Staden, Grant Williams, Johan Goosen and Canan Moodie have all reportedly been called into the Bok squad from the SA A side as their replacements, while Evan Roos, Jaden Hendrikse, Jesse Kriel and Makazole Mapimpi could all feature at Twickenham.

Nienaber’s biggest call is likely to be about who to start at flyhalf, whether Damian Willemse will continue in the role or if Manie Libbok will get a start after his impressive showing off the bench against Italy.

The Bok team will be named on Tuesday.