Ross Roche

By Ross Roche

Senior sports writer

Boks set to unleash Moodie against England … but what about Kriel, Am?

The Boks have a tough decision to make at 13 between fit-again Lukhanyo Am, in-form Jesse Kriel and Canan Moodie.

The Springboks are set to unleash Canan Moodie in their Rugby World Cup semi-final encounter against England at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis on Saturday night.

Moodie came into the World Cup in absolutely scintillating form, but after an injury niggle ruled him out of the opening game against Scotland, he has had to settle into the Boks‘ back-up group of players.

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It’s harsh to call them second string, but the sides that the Boks picked for their pool matches against Romania and Tonga would largely not be picked for their bigger matches, as seen so far at this World Cup, but Moodie looks like he will finally get a run in a big game.

Moodie was part of the Boks’ Tuesday press conference along with Handre Pollard, and players that are involved in media duties in a match week are almost always part of the playing-23 on the weekend.

It will be interesting to see where Moodie will be deployed however, with him featuring at outside centre in his last three games for the Boks, instead of his preferred position on the wing.

Tough decision

The Boks have a tough decision to make at 13 for the game as fit again Lukhanyo Am should be in line for some crucial game time, while Jesse Kriel played an absolute blinder over the past weekend in the Boks’ quarterfinal win over France, which Moodie admitted was eye opening for him.

“Jesse played an amazing game at the weekend. Thirteen is a very important position on defence and defence wins you World Cups,” said Moodie.

“It was a monster performance from him and being able to see that (was great). To see this and experience it and take as much info from it, to see how he carries himself as well (means) a lot for me as a young guy.”

Shifting focus

Although the Boks could be forgiven for shifting their focus a bit to the World Cup final, where they could end up facing the All Blacks, Moodie said that they were fully focused on the task at hand and that they would be giving England the respect that they deserve.

“I think we are laser focused on the task at hand. We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves. I think all (the) prep is for this weekend,” explained Moodie.

“A semifinal is very important. No one wants to play in the third and fourth-place play-off so I think you have to get past the semifinal first before you focus on the final.

“I think England are a very good team. If I get the opportunity (to play), I will make the most of it. It’s (team selection) all up to the coaches, we trust the coaches and whatever plans they have. They will put the right squad out there for Saturday.”

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