Quintin van Jaarsveld highlights five Springbok players who’ll be in the spotlight in the season-ending showdown against England at Twickenham on Saturday.
Orie bombed on his return to the starting line-up against the Azzurri last weekend and needs a big shift on Saturday like he does oxygen. Filling in for the injured Lood de Jager, he cost the Springboks a try when he failed to field a restart and was a non-factor with ball in hand.
His reputation as a lineout general also didn’t follow him to Stadio Luigi Ferraris as South Africa were shaky in the set piece. The disappointing display only added to the general view that he’s not of international quality and the Springboks can’t afford any “passengers” against England.
He’ll be out to rise to the occasion and prove his naysayers wrong.
It’s the opportunity Roos has been waiting for all year. A chance to prove, as a starter on a big stage, that he belongs in the Springbok squad.
The 22-year-old has been an awkward presence in the national camp. He was among the “Suicide Squad” of fringe players in the historic loss to Wales in Bloemfontein in July, a sacrifice Rassie Erasmus and Jacques Nienaber were seemingly willing to make to silence supporters’ calls for certain players to form part of the national side.
The MVP of the inaugural season of the United Rugby Championship was yanked off after 47 minutes, omitted from the Rugby Championship squad and roped back in, rather reluctantly it felt, for the year-end tour. He got 21 minutes off the bench in last weekend’s 63-21 walloping in Genoa, but this…this is his shot.
Again brought about by other factors – this time the unavailability of Jasper Wiese, who’s one of the players who’ve returned to their English/French clubs as the Test falls outside of the international window – Roos has been handed his second start and his immediate Springbok future seemingly depends on his performance this weekend.
Kurt-Lee Arendse’s amazing performances over the past fortnight have left Mapimpi in a precarious position. No one could’ve anticipated that Arendse would take his opportunities in the No 11 jersey against France and Italy quite as remarkably as he did, which raised the question of whether he’d keep possession of it at Mapimpi’s expense.
Before the Test against Les Bleus, Mapimpi had never been on the bench and he was left out of the matchday 23 altogether last weekend. It’s a tricky turn of events to process mentally if you’re Mapimpi, you have to imagine.
He’s every bit the apex finisher he’s always been, though, and Cheslin Kolbe’s unavailability will see him pair up with Arendse this weekend, with the latter shifting to right wing.
He’s a coiled cobra ready to strike, which will make him one of the most dangerous men on the Twickenham turf.
Damian de Allende
He’s been in the spotlight all week and that won’t change this weekend. The warhorse of the Springbok backline made news on two fronts as he was an injury concern after his outing at outside centre against the Italians and was one of three Springboks included in World Rugby’s Dream Team of 2022.
Fortunately for the world champions, their midfield monster was cleared and named to start in his usual No 12 jersey where he’ll have a vital role to play as he goes head-to-head with England’s talismanic captain Owen Farrell.
South African supporters’ collective call for Libbok to start at flyhalf following his sensational super-sub performance last weekend must’ve not carried all the way across to London but he’ll be plotting another prolific performance off the pine.
The Stormers playmaker showed out against Italy and was a shock to the Springbok system in the best way possible. His dependability off the tee and attacking prowess make him a double-duty ace up South Africa’s sleeve.
Perhaps his most significant quality in the context of what’s set to be a cliffhanger is his big-match temperament. He’s shown it for the Stormers – most famously slotting the match-winning kick in the URC semi-final against Ulster – and he’ll back himself to do the same on one of the biggest stages in world rugby if it comes down to it.
South Africa: Willie le Roux, 14 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Evan Roos, 7 Franco Mostert, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Ox Nche.
Replacements: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Thomas du Toit, 19 Marco van Staden, 20 Kwagga Smith, 21 Jaden Hendrikse, 22 Manie Libbok, 23 Canan Moodie.