Quintin van Jaarsveld highlights five Springbok players who’ll be in the spotlight in the titanic end-of-year tour opener against Ireland in Dublin on Saturday.
Kolisi has a history of delivering on the biggest stages and they don’t come a heck of a lot bigger than tackling the No 1-ranked team in the world at a sold-out Aviva Stadium.
The Springbok skipper won’t just be expected to lead the surge in terms of intensity and physicality but will also have the unenviable task of having to match the energy of Ireland’s star flanker Josh van der Flier.
Pieter-Steph du Toit will have to increase his output, too, and with Franco Mostert, Deon Fourie and Kwagga Smith all forming part of the “Bomb Squad”, Kolisi and Du Toit will be able to go full tilt straight out of the shoot if they choose to.
The wunderkind who’s come of age this season is back in the Springbok saddle as stand-in flyhalf in the absence of the injured Handre Pollard and embattled Elton Jantjies and has the daunting duty of directing his troops in the Dublin cauldron in a head-to-head battle against a legendary general in Johnny Sexton.
His immense growth over the last 18 months suggests the armour of maturity he’ll be wearing won’t melt, but much will rely on whether his pack gives him the protection and front foot ball he needs to execute the game plan and sprinkle in the magic that gives the Springboks an extra dimension with him at No 10.
Kurt – Lee Arendse
With Canan Moodie sidelined, exciting Arendse returns to the starting line-up following his try-scoring cameo off the bench in the Rugby Championship finale against Argentina in Durban.
He’s still new to Test rugby but he’s a tremendous talent who’s looked at home at the highest level so far and is fully deserving of the opportunity.
The composition of the new-look back three is somewhat concerning from a defensive standpoint, though, with Arendse paired with fellow pint-sized predator Cheslin Kolbe along with Makazole Mapimpi for the first time. They’ll be tested and judged individually and as a combination.
The excitement of Kolbe’s return from injury is wrapped in a layer of intrigue with his selection at fullback. The fleet-footed pocket rocket is no stranger to the role at the club level but this will be his first time donning the green and gold No 15 jersey.
He’s a natural ball player, which enables him to slot in exceedingly well in a number of positions, but the timing of this selection comes with big-time risks and rewards.
Facing the No 1-ranked team in the world in their backyard is hardly the time to experiment, but it shows the confidence the coaches have in Kolbe. So much so that he’s the back-up flyhalf if needed as well.
From an attacking point of view, it’s a very exciting move given the extra time and space he’ll have on the ball and while he has an uncanny leaping ability that allows him to beat taller opponents to high balls more often than not, he’s set to endure a different type of barrage with runners rushing to smash him in his 22, so it remains to be seen how he holds up.
Faf de Klerk
The blonde-haired fan favourite has had a rough 2022 with a lack of form and concussion issues leading to him losing the No 9 jersey he owned for many a season to rising star Jaden Hendrikse.
He remains a key cog in the Springbok machine and his experience, in particular, will be invaluable when he comes off the bench and relieves Willemse of much of the pressure and tactical responsibilities.
As a left-footed kicker, he’ll provide additional value and open up more angles and has been tagged as the other emergency flyhalf option.
South Africa: 15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Jaden Hendrikse, 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Ox Nche, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Franco Mostert, 20 Deon Fourie, 21 Kwagga Smith, 22 Faf de Klerk, 23 Willie le Roux.