Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus only saw fit to make three changes to the team that drew with the All Blacks in Wellington a little over a week ago. All three changes are in the front row and are not surprising given the experience and scrumming ability of these three distinguished front rankers. Tendai Mtawarira, Bongi Mbonambi and Trevor Nyakane will all start for the Springboks when they take on Argentina in a must win clash for the Boks.
TEAM; 1. Tendai Mtawarira, 2. Bongi Mbonambi, 3. Trevor Nyakane, 4. Eben Etzebeth,5. Franco Mostert, 6. Kwagga Smith, 7. Pieter-Steph du Toit, 8. Duane Vermeulen, 9. Faf de Klerk, 10. Handre Pollard, 11. Makazole Mapimpi, 12. Damian de Allende, 13. Lukhanyo Am, 14. Cheslin Kolbe, 15. Willie le Roux.
SUBS; 16. Malcom Marx, 17. Steven Kitshoff, 18. Frans Malherbe, 19. RG Snyman, 20. Francois Louw, 21. Herschel Jantjies, 22. Frans Steyn, 23. Jesse Kriel.
The fact that Rassie has almost picked the exact same run on 15 gives me confidence that combinations are coming together nicely ahead of the trip to Japan in September. The only concern will be that of Siya Kolisi and his fitness. A fully fit Siya will seamlessly fit into this Bok team and most likely improve it. Kolisi has been given the chance to prove his fitness in this weekends Currie Cup fixture for Western Province. I am confident Siya will prove he is fit and will undoubtedly in my mind be leading the team out against the All Blacks at our first game in this year’s World Cup.
While Rassie has selected the same 23-man squad to take on the Pumas in Salta this weekend there are still some decision making ahead of him and the coaching staff. I believe all 23 plus Siya Kolisi will be on the plane to Japan but there will be 7 more names added to that squad to make up the 31-man squad that has the task of conquering world rugby. In my opinion they will most likely split those seven names with four forwards and three backs meaning versatility will be pivotal to being selected by Rassie and his team. I think he has the nucleus of his squad and he knows who goes where at this point and that there will be few surprises going forward. These are the players I think will join the Springbok 31-man Squad; Marvin Orie, Lood de Jager, Marcell Coetzee, Lizo Gqoboka, Andre Esterhuizen, Aphiwe Dyantyi and Elton Jantjies. It will be tough to leave anyone out at this stage and players will feel hard done by but this is a good thing for SA rugby, the fact that there will be maybe ten players back home that could quite easily be in the squad and in the starting lineup for the Springboks. The official squad will be announced on the 25th of August and you can be sure I will dissect that squad and our chances at the World Cup after the announcement.