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Springbok squad Talking Points

18 July 2019, by: Carl Lewis


Springbok Rassie Erasmus has selected his first match day squad of 2019 for the South Africa’s Test against the Australia at Ellis Park.

As expected there are a few experiemental selections while veteran Eben Etzebeth was named as captain.

There are two debutants in loose forward Rynhardt Elstadt and scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies, while in form Bulls prop Lizo Gqoboka will get his first cap off the bench.

Let’s take a look at some of the big talking points from Erasmus’ squad.

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With captain Siya Kolisi unavailable due to injury, Rassie Erasmus took the logical step of naming Eben Etzebeth as the interim captain for the match against Australia.

Etzebeth is of course not new to leading the Boks, he did it for the 2017 season which happened to a poor year results-wise and intiated the demise of Allister Coetzee.

But Etzebeth garners a huge amount of respect within the Bok camp and in world rugby, and luckily the aggressive second-rower does have an experienced pack to lean on at Ellis Park.

The forwards boast a combined total of 394 caps. Etzebeth has been capped 75 times while fellow lock Lood de Jager will make his 39th appearance. Front rower Tendai Mtawarira is a centurion in terms of Test played (107 caps).

Elsewhere, the loose forwards have the experienced pair of Pieter-Steph du Toit (46 caps) and Francois Louw (65 caps). Despite the combinations being a touch experimental, the pack will not be overwhelmed by the occasion.

Just a quick glance at the Springbok pack  and it’s clear that Rassie Erasmus wants to dominate Australia physically. Captain Eben Etzebeth and debutant flanker Rynhardt Elstadt are two enforcers who absolutely love the confrontation.

Added to that SA Rugby Player of the Year, Pieter Steph du Toit, who is known for his aggressive and tireless performances. Add to the mix, the tigerish Bongi Mbonambi and you have a makeup on a formidable pack.

Considering they are on the highveld, it could potentially be a tough day out for the Wallabies if the Boks have their way at the breakdown.

Jantjies was the breakout star of the Super Rugby 2019 from a South African perspective. He made into the BET Central Super Rugby Team of the Season.

The scrumhalf was playing his rugby at varsity level for UWC not too long ago, but now he has jumped ahead of both Embrose Papier and Ivan Zyl for possible inclusion into the World Cup squad.

Jantjies will provide rapid service from the base of the ruck/scrum and he also happens to be a dynamic runner with the ball in hand.

He forms a potentially exciting halfback apring with Elton Jantjies. There will be questions asked of both of them defensively.

Bok Assistant coach Mzwandile Stick was full of preaise for the debutant who was schooled at Paul Roos:

“Look at how consistent he’s been this season. The one thing about him is that he is very clinical in terms of his basic skills. He’s got a good pass and when the opportunity arises, he will snipe and score brilliant tries.”
“At 1.67m and 75kg, Jantjies is not a big guy but defends well. He makes the big tackles. That shows he’s in a good mental space. He’s got the potential to become one of the great scrum-halves in our country.”

Rassie Erasmus has recalled a handful of Boks who are playing overseas and through form have forced a return into international rugby. On Saturday they’ll come off the bench in the hope their experience can finish off the Wallabies on the highveld.

The familiar faces returning are former Sharks loose forward Marcell Coetzee (Ulster) who last played for the Boks in 2015, scrummy Cobus Reinach (Northampton Saints) and the much talked about Frans Steyn (Montpellier, utility back)

It’s experienced and in form substitute bench with many coming off very good seasons in their respective leagues.

Gelant made his Springbok debut on the wing during the End of Year Tour in 2017 under Allister Coetzee. Unfortunately, in 2018 he suffered an injury which ruled him out of contention for the Springboks.

He remains a supremely gifted fullback. He can kick off both feet, possesses impeccable balls skills and is blessed with great spatial awareness.

It will interesting to see how Erasmus plans to utilize the skilful fullback because he has the skills to be a wide playmaker like the incumbent 15 Willie le Roux.

15 Warrick Gelant, 14 S’bu Nkosi, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Francois Louw, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Rynhardt Elstadt, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth (captain), 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Tendai Mtawarira

Substitutes: 16 Schalk Brits, 17 Lizo Gqoboka, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Marvin Orie, 20 Marcell Coetzee, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 Frans Steyn, 23 Dillyn Leyds

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