Boks to send them packing
Changes to team a necessity ahead of 2019 ambitions
The series is won‚ but the Springboks are determined to complete a 3-0 clean-sweep over England and extend their nearly two-decade long home winning sequence a little longer.
The last time England won in South Africa‚ Springbok wings Aphiwe Dyantyi and S’bu Nkosi were six and four years old, respectively.
Although the Boks want nothing more than a seventh win over England since 2000 when Martin Johnson’s team won in Bloemfontein‚ coach Rassie Erasmus is taking a calculated risk by tinker- ing with his team.
With five changes to the starting lineup for this match at Newlands today‚ Erasmus has taken the unusual step of changing a winning combination.
But in a race against time to be competitive for the World Cup in 15 months’ time‚ Erasmus has to build depth and test players at this level. And he’s running out of time.
So‚ at the risk of defeat‚ he has chosen to give starts to the inexperienced duo of fullback Warrick Gelant and centre Andre Esterhuizen‚ who were thrown in at the deep end against Wales in Washington three weeks ago.
Although the Boks lost that match 22-20 in a torrential downpour‚ those two youngsters‚ along with the experienced centre Jesse Kriel and flyhalf Elton Jantjies‚ have been included in the starting lineup this week.
Erasmus has seen enough of Damian de Allende, Lukhanyo Am‚ Willie le Roux and Handré Pollard to know that they have what it takes to fit into his system. He now needs to see if the next in line can do the same.
“We had to consider a number of factors [when it came to selection]‚ and we want to be sure about our options as we build towards the World Cup‚” said Erasmus.
“However‚ we also didn’t want to just make wholesale changes‚ so this was probably the maximum we could make.”
The pack only sees one change at hooker, where Chiliboy Ralepelle comes in for Bongi Mbonambi‚ with 37-year-old Schalk Brits included on the bench.
Mbonambi has done enough in the first two Tests to nail down one of the hooking berths for the Rugby Championship.
Malcolm Marx is back in action this weekend for the Lions and should claim another, while Ralepelle appears to be the third choice in the medium to long-term.
The Boks’ main objectives‚ besides winning‚ naturally‚ are to show improvement on defence‚ a more cohesive maul and to see individual players rise to the occasion.
England of course‚ are smarting after losing the series while also giving up two significant leads in each of the Tests in Johannesburg and Bloemfontein.
Under-pressure coach Eddie Jones has axed the ineffective George Ford and included the mercurial Danny Cipriani at flyhalf in an effort to improve their attack.
Cipriani last started for England nine years and 213 days ago and comes into the team as a more mature person and player.
The renegade hellraiser of the past appears to have evolved into a genuine playmaker that brings the best out of those around him.
England’s kicking game hasn’t caused too much trouble for the Boks but their ability to move the ball wide has exposed some naivety on defence by the home team. Cipriani will look to exploit those potential frailties again.
But England’s pack hasn’t been able to match the Boks over 80 minutes and, without the Vunipola brothers – Billy and Mako – it’s unlikely the combination this weekend will have the beating of the home team.
The English team will no doubt be determined to give their best.
The team is:
Springboks – Warrick Gelant; S’bu Nkosi‚ Jesse Kriel‚ André Esterhuizen‚ Aphiwe Dyantyi; Elton Jantjies‚ Faf de Klerk; Duane Vermeulen‚ Pieter-Steph du Toit‚ Siya Kolisi‚ Franco Mostert‚ RG Snyman‚ Frans Malherbe‚ Chiliboy Ralepelle‚ Beast Mtawarira
Reserves: Schalk Brits‚ Steven Kitshoff‚ Thomas du Toit‚ Jean-Luc du Preez‚ Sikhumbuzo Notshe‚ Embrose Papier‚ Handré Pollard‚ Willie le Roux..