Quintin van Jaarsveld identifies five Springbok players who’ll be in the spotlight in the World Cup warm-up match against Wales in Cardiff on Saturday.
After adding touches of class in a super-sub capacity in the three Rugby Championship Tests, Snyman now gets an opportunity to show his worth in the run-on side and will do so alongside his Munster second-row partner, Jean Kleyn.
It’ll be the first time since the 66-7 win over Canada during the pool stage of the 2019 World Cup and only the ninth time in 27 appearances that the injury-plagued lock starts a Test match.
With Lood de Jager ruled out of the World Cup with a heart condition, the No 5 jersey is up for grabs and Snyman will look to stake his claim against the Dragons.
All eyes will be on Kolisi on his big return from a knee injury that required surgery and threatened to rule him out of the World Cup.
A knee injury is one of the most difficult injuries to come back from both physically and mentally and the Bok coaches will hope their talisman gets at least 40 minutes of game time under his belt.
Reclaiming the captaincy rather than reintegrating off the bench, Kolisi will jump straight back into the fire and South Africans will hold a collective breath that the inspirational Bok leader comes through the clash unscathed.
It’s not only been a challenging season but the toughest year of Hendrikse’s life as well. As if suffering a serious shoulder injury in April wasn’t enough, the 22-year-old lost his father last month.
It’ll be an emotional first Test back for the Sharks scrumhalf and an important one at that as he, like Kolisi, is in desperate need of game time ahead of the World Cup.
Hendrikse’s composed well beyond his years and exceptionally well-rounded at such an early stage of his international career, so I won’t be surprised if he slots back in seamlessly.
The bombshell omission of Handre Pollard from the World Cup squad due to a lingering calf injury has put even more pressure on the inexperienced Libbok to find his footing at Test level.
As the only recognised flyhalf in the group, the 26-year-old’s performance will come under the magnifying glass and his big-match temperament once again under question.
He’s had great touches and moments so far, but the most important thing and the main aspect of his game that he’ll be judged on this weekend and beyond is his goal-kicking.
Like his Sharks teammates Kolisi and Hendrikse, Nche will make his first Test appearance of the season at Principality Stadium, weeks after being named to start in the Rugby Championship opener against Australia at Loftus only to suffer a pectoral injury during training.
The popular barnstorming prop will look to make up for lost time when he comes on as a member of the Bomb Squad in the second half in what’ll be his 20th Test and with the Welsh scrum having looked shaky in the back-to-back games against England, the opportunity is there for Nche to make a big impact.
Springbok team to face Wales: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Canan Moodie, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Cheslin Kolbe, 10 Manie Libbok, 9 Jaden Hendrikse, 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 RG Snyman, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Ox Nche, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Franco Mostert, 20 Marco van Staden, 21 Duane Vermeulen, 22 Grant Williams, 23 Damian Willemse.