SA’s Director of Rugby and current Head Coach Rassie Erasmus has named a much changed line up to face Argentina on Saturday the 17th of August. For one Bok in particular it will be a momentous occasion, Schalk Brits will become the oldest player to captain the Springboks at 38 years and three months old. This will be his first start in a Bok shirt since 2008 for the explosive hooker.
TEAM; 1. Thomas duToit, 2. Schalk Brits, 3. Vincent Koch, 4. RG Snyman, 5. Lood de Jager, 6. Siya Kolisi, 7. Rynhardt Elstadt, 8. Marcell Coetzee, 9. Cobus Reinach, 10. Elton Jantjies, 11. Dillyn Leyds, 12. Andre Esterhuizen, 13. Jesse Kriel, 14. S’bu Nkosi, 15. Warrick Gelant.
SUBS; Scarra Ntubeni, Lizo Gqoboka, Wilco Louw, Marvin Orie, Marco van Staden, Kwagga Smith, Faf de Klerk, Frans Steyn.
The Springboks coming off the back of a victorious Rugby Championship will look to flex their muscles a little and show the depth of South African rugby. I don’t think anyone can argue that Rassie hasn’t picked a strong lineup for the farewell match against Argentina. While the team is not a full strength one, it shows just how deep SA rugby is at the moment and also gives the mainstays of the last few weeks a bit of much needed rest.
Siya Kolisi would usually run out as Captain of the Springbok side but with him only probably playing the first 40 minutes of the game Rassie has decided to give that honor to Schalk Brits, who many believe is extremely unlucky not to have played a much larger role as a Springbok over the years. Siya will get the chance to prove he is match fit at test level after playing in a victorious Western Province team last weekend. With a full 80 min behind him I am sure Siya is raring to go for Saturdays clash and with him knowing he probably only has 40-60 minutes to play I’m pretty sure we will see him put in a huge effort while he is on the pitch.
The coach will also be having one last look at some ‘maybe’ players for the World Cup in Japan later this year and while I’m certain that some of the players that take the field on Saturday will know whether they are going or not p, it will be other players’ last chance to prove they have what it takes to back the Boks up in Japan as and when they are needed.
This will be a great chance for someone to convince Rassie that they deserve to be either on the plane to Japan or in one of the 6 back up roles identified by Rassie and his coaching staff. Rugby is a tough game and injuries are very much part of the game and I’m glad that Rassie has seen the need for back up upon back for the World Cup Squad. The Squad as a whole has maintained togetherness since the alignment camp and has grown from strength to strength through the tough Rugby Championship campaign. There will be those whose feel hard done by when the team is announced but I have no doubt in my mind that if they are called upon at some point during the tournament that they will be ready to represent the Springboks as well as they can.
The Springboks have a rare achievement in view, winning the World Cup for a record equaling 3rd time and I believe that Rassie has gone about that task in the best way possible. He has built a squad over the last 2 years with only one objective in mind and that is bringing home that trophy that perhaps means more to South Africa than it does for other nations that partcipate in the tournament. For us it’s the memory of Nelson Mandela and Francois Peinaar hoisting it above their heads and uniting a torn nation.