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Who You Got in SA Boks v Overseas Boks Dream Match?

It’s fantasy rugby warfare at its finest as Quintin van Jaarsveld selects local and overseas-based Springbok sides to square off in a dream match.

Springboks Dream Match

It’s fantasy rugby warfare at its finest as Quintin van Jaarsveld selects local and overseas-based Springbok sides to square off in a dream match.

The success of the world champion, number one-ranked Springboks is built on their extraordinary depth. Players plying their trade locally and abroad assemble to form a super camp of green and gold, which this season added the British & Irish Lions series spoils to their World Cup triumph two years ago.

There are numerous other elite South African-born stars scattered across the globe, from experienced ex-Springboks and forgotten ones to those in waiting. It got us wondering, who would win a fantasy fixture between locally-based and overseas Springbok players?

While the original concept was to pit two all-Springbok teams against one another, strategy, form and a rare instance of there being a shortage of Springbok locks on the local front saw team Mzanzi being allowed to field a maximum of three uncapped players in their matchday 23. 

Aside from those who’ve represented their adopted countries at Test level, all South African-born players were eligible, including those currently on the injured list. With the overseas outfit made up of players based in Europe and Japan, Eden Park in Auckland will serve as the neutral venue for the blockbuster battle. 

Here, then, are the chosen ones:

Back Three

SA Springboks: Damian Willemse, Sbu Nkosi & Makazole Mapimpi

A triangle of youthful exuberance makes up the local outfit’s back three. There’s the X-factor of Willemse at fullback, the position he’s best suited for in my opinion with the added space and time it affords him, while the Stormers prodigy also provides flyhalf and centre cover if necessary. 

Then there’s the athleticism of Nkosi and unprecedented predatory instincts of fellow Sharks flyer Mapimpi, who this season continued his record of scoring against every nation he’s played against and became the fastest man to score 20 tries in the green and gold when he dotted down in the season-ending epic against England in what was his 25th Test.

Overseas Springboks: Willie le Roux, Cheslin Kolbe & Dillyn Leyds

Le Roux’s not a very popular man at present among South African supporters who are growing increasingly frustrated with the veteran’s poor form in the twilight of his Test career, but when he’s on, he’s a game-changer. Speaking of game-changers, there are none greater than the giant-slaying, British & Irish Lions-taming Kolbe. 

Leyds gets the nod on the left wing ahead of fellow former Springbok speedsters Raymond Rhule and Courtnall Skosan. All three have revitalised their careers abroad, with Leyds lighting it up for La Rochelle, who he helped propel to the Champions Cup final earlier this year.

Midfield

SA Springboks: Frans Steyn & Lukhanyo Am

Power and panache meet in the midfield for team Mzanzi. Steyn is a one-of-a-kind superstar, who not only became the first Springbok to play Test rugby over 15 calendar years this season but also showed he has plenty of gas left in the tank. Along with his experience, his versatility makes him invaluable. Am is unquestionably the best outside centre in world rugby at the moment, whose vision and finesse combine perfectly with Steyn’s size and strength.  

Overseas Springboks: Damian de Allende & Jesse Kriel

At the same token, De Allende followed up his stellar World Cup campaign with another sublime season to make a strong argument for the world’s best inside centre honour. The Munster midfield monster is the total package and both he and Kriel brought up their Springbok half-centuries this year. Seemingly sculpted out of granite, Kriel is arguably the best-conditioned athlete in the Springbok camp and packs a punch on both sides of the ball. 

Halfback Pairing

SA Springboks: Herschel Jantjies & Johan Goosen

In the first selection that’ll probably come as a surprise to some, I’ve opted for the more dynamic Goosen to partner like-minded Jantjies in the pivotal 9-10 axis ahead of Morne Steyn. A general of note, Steyn’s stature as a Springbok legend is well documented. However, Goosen was the form South African flyhalf prior to his injury and would bring the all-round prowess that’ll pile pressure on the opposition. 

Overseas Springboks: Faf de Klerk & Handre Pollard

Opposing them is the tried-and-tested combination of De Klerk and Pollard. The pair piloted the Springboks to World Cup glory and know each other like the back of their hand. The Springbok brand of rugby is ingrained in their brains and at their clinical best, the incumbents blow teams out of the water with their tactical aerial bombardment.

Back Row

SA Springboks: Siya Kolisi, Marcell Coetzee & Evan Roos

The present, past and future form the local back row. Kolisi had a colossal season, leading the Springboks to a come-from-behind series win over the British & Irish Lions in the most stressful and challenging circumstances imaginable while taking his physicality to the next level.

Coetzee has been on the cusp of a Springbok recall for a while. One of the best players in Europe during his time at Ulster, he’s continued his commanding ways at the Bulls, spearheading them to a second Currie Cup title in a row in record fashion. Rampaging Roos has been impossible to ignore and as such, the 21-year-old starts at No.8 as one of the three allotted uncapped players. 

Overseas Springboks: Kwagga Smith, Pieter-Steph du Toit & Duane Vermeulen 

A blockbuster back row if ever there was one! You have the pilfering ability and Sevens skill and speed of Smith along with two of the greatest Springboks of all time, both of whom made moves abroad this year. A freak of nature and 2019 World Rugby Player of the Year, Du Toit has joined Toyota Verblitz while Vermeulen, the most-capped No.8 in Springbok history, has joined Ulster. The Man of the Match of the World Cup final in Yokohama and legendary hard man captains the overseas outfit.

Second Row

SA Springboks: Salmaan Moerat & Marvin Orie

Taking nothing away from this talented tandem, the second row is an area in which the overseas side have a significant advantage. Former Junior Springbok and current Stormers captain Moerat’s time has almost come. He didn’t get to make his Springbok debut as a member of the end-of-year tour and thus fills the second slot of uncapped players, while Orie has only played in seven Tests, leaving the locals short on international experience.  

Overseas Springboks: Eben Etzebeth & Lood de Jager

Team abroad, in contrast, have an overflowing cupboard of world-beating locks – a murder’s row if you will. Incumbents Etzebeth and De Jager gel together phenomenally as one of the most experienced lock pairings in Springbok history. Etzebeth is closing in on centurion status and is our world player of the year, while De Jager surpassed the 50-Test mark this season.

Front Row

SA Springboks: Steven Kitshoff, Bongi Mbonambi & Frans Malherbe

The world champions have an embarrassment of riches in the front row, which would make for a titanic scrum battle. While all six starters have been used as interchangeable, punishing puzzle pieces in the Springbok fold, the experience Kitshoff, Mbonambi and Malherbe built during several seasons at the Stormers arguably give team Mzanzi an edge.

Overseas Springboks: Trevor Nyakane, Malcolm Marx & Vincent Koch

Like Du Toit and Vermeulen, Nyakane’s a newly-transferred member of team abroad. Coming off a beastly season in which he showed world-class proficiency and power as a swing prop, the marquee signing of Racing 92 joins Marx, who was close to if not back to his best, while Koch made the most of every opportunity he was given.

Bomb Squads

SA Springboks: Bismarck du Plessis, Ox Nche, Thomas du Toit, Ruan Nortje, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Jayden Hendrikse, Morne Steyn & Aphelele Fassi

Evergreen bruiser Du Plessis has been handed the reserve hooking berth ahead of Scarra Ntubeni due to his physicality and ball-poaching prowess, with red-hot Nche and fellow Sharks front-rower Du Toit on either side of the 2007 World Cup winner. Rising Bulls lock Nortje has been sublime and has been rewarded with the final uncapped player invitation, while Notshe’s selection ahead of the likes of Jaco Kriel and Arno Botha is with the view of him playing an up-tempo link role. 

The speed and danger Hendrikse brings to the table saw him being preferred to Ruan Pienaar. As he showed with his unbelievable repeat series-winning heroics against the British & Irish Lions, Morne Steyn is still as clutch as they come and on standby should things go down to the wire, while Fassi will bring fireworks.  

Overseas Springboks: Joseph Dweba, Coenie Oosthuizen, Wilco Louw, Franco Mostert, Jasper Wiese, Cobus Reinach, Elton Jantjies & Andre Esterhuizen

The superior depth of team abroad is on show with their world-class cavalry. That the likes of RG Snyman, the Du Preez twins, Marco van Staden and Jan Serfontein didn’t make the matchday 23 further highlights this. 

Dweba and Wiese made promising starts to their Springbok careers this season. Louw, Mostert, Reinach and Jantjies all enhanced theirs, while Oosthuizen and Esterhuizen are forces of nature with solid Test experience and are hungry for a chance to show their worth once again.

SA Springboks: 15 Damian Willemse (Stormers), 14 Sbu Nkosi (Sharks), 13 Lukhanyo Am (Sharks), 12 Frans Steyn (Cheetahs), 11 Makazole Mapimpi (Sharks), 10 Johan Goosen (Bulls), 9 Herschel Jantjies (Stormers), 8 Evan Roos (Stormers), 7 Marcell Coetzee (Bulls), 6 Siya Kolisi (Sharks – captain), 5 Marvin Orie (Stormers), 4 Salmaan Moerat (Stormers), 3 Frans Malherbe (Stormers), 2 Bongi Mbonambi (Sharks), 1 Steven Kitshoff (Stormers).

Replacements: 16 Bismarck du Plessis (Bulls), 17 Ox Nche (Sharks), 18 Thomas du Toit (Sharks), 19 Ruan Nortje (Bulls), 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe (Sharks), 21 Jayden Hendrikse (Sharks), 22 Morne Steyn (Bulls), Aphelele Fassi (Sharks). 

Overseas Springboks: 15 Willie le Roux (Toyota Verblitz), 14 Cheslin Kolbe (Toulon), 13 Jesse Kriel (Canon Eagles), 12 Damian de Allende (Munster), 11 Dillyn Leyds (La Rochelle), 10 Handre Pollard (Montpellier), 9 Faf de Klerk (Sale Sharks), 8 Duane Vermeulen (Ulster – captain), 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit (Toyota Verblitz), 6 Kwagga Smith (Yamaha Jubilo), 5 Lood de Jager (Sale Sharks), 4 Eben Etzebeth (Toulon), 3 Vincent Koch (Saracens), 2 Malcolm Marx (Kubota Spears), 1 Trevor Nyakane (Racing 92).

Replacements: 16 Joseph Dweba (Bordeaux), 17 Coenie Oosthuizen (Sale Sharks), 18 Wilco Louw (Harlequins), 19 Franco Mostert (Honda Heat), 20 Jasper Wiese (Leicester Tigers), 21 Cobus Reinach (Montpellier), 22 Elton Jantjies (Red Hurricanes), 23 Andre Esterhuizen (Harlequins). 

WHICH TEAM DO YOU THINK WOULD TRIUMPH? LET US KNOW USING THE FOLLOWING HASHTAGS ON TWITTER: 

#BETBattleoftheBoks 

#SABoks 

#OverseasBoks

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Quintin Van Jaarsveld is a former MDDA-Sanlam SA Local Sports Journalist of the Year and a former three-time Vodacom KwaZulu-Natal Sports Journalist of the Year. Formerly the sports editor and Outstanding Journalist of the Year award winner at The Fever Media Group, deputy editor at eHowzit, editor at SARugby.com and senior staff writer at Rugby365.com, he boasts over 15 years’ experience and is currently a freelance sports writer.

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