FRANCOIS LOUW IS FULLY FIT AND READY FOR TEST RUGBY, SAYS BOK COACH

Diamond Fields Advertiser - - SPORT - JAC­QUES VAN DER WESTHUYZEN IN BLOEM­FONTEIN

IF ALLISTER Coet­zee picks Francois Louw to start against the Wal­la­bies here on Satur­day it will be the fifth dif­fer­ent loose-trio com­bi­na­tion to turn out for the Spring­boks in eight Tests this sea­son.

A key con­sid­er­a­tion for Coet­zee will be whether it will be a gam­ble to se­lect an­other new back-row com­bi­na­tion, in a Test match the Boks sim­ply have to win.

Louw, who joined the squad from Bath ear­lier this week af­ter re­plac­ing the in­jured Jaco Kriel (shoul­der) in the squad, has all the ex­pe­ri­ence hav­ing played 52 Tests and be­ing part of the Bok set-up since 2010, he’s a leader and re­spected and is – ac­cord­ing to Coet­zee – in fine form.

But, at 32, Louw will not be part of the long-term plan­ning and he has not fea­tured at all for the Spring­boks this sea­son.

Mag­nif­i­cent pre-sea­son

P W D PF PA PD New Zealand 4 4 0 0 185 85 100 South Africa 4 2 1 1 101 118 -17 Australia 4 1 1 2 131 132 -1 Ar­gentina 4 0 0 4 80 162 -82

LPts 19 11 8 0

been in­volved in some ca­pac­ity in all seven Tests.

It’s a big call for Coet­zee to make this week. Louw may have the ex­pe­ri­ence and he may have fea­tured last sea­son but he hasn’t been part of the mix at all this year, and things are quite dif­fer­ent.

For the first two Tests, against France, War­ren White­ley, Oupa Mo­hoje and Kolisi packed down in the back-row, for the third Test, White­ley and Mo­hoje were ruled out and Du Preez and Kriel came in, while for the two Tests against Ar­gentina, Uzair Cassiem joined the loose-trio to part­ner Kriel and Kolisi.

Then against the Aussies in Perth, Cassiem, Kriel and Kolisi stayed to­gether, but in­jury felled Kriel for the All Blacks game and Du Preez came in, again.

Kolisi and Kriel have been out­stand­ing for the Boks through­out the sea­son, but Coet­zee has also been hugely im­pressed with Cassiem, and he’s likely to con­tinue in his No 8 role un­til White­ley re­turns, prob­a­bly on the Novem­ber tour of Europe.

“I’m very pleased with what Uzair has brought to the team,” said Coet­zee. “He might not be the link man or have spec­tac­u­lar hands, but he’s got a phe­nom­e­nal work-rate and does a lot of the un­no­ticed work. He’s not flashy but he makes the play­ers around him per­form well. He’s a real grafter.”

Ex­pect Louw to move straight into the Bok start­ing team, along­side Cassiem and Kolisi when Coet­zee names his team to­mor­row, with Du Preez again be­ing used as the sec­ond half im­pact player. If that was not the idea then Coet­zee would not have brought Louw all the way out from Eng­land to be part of the turn-around strat­egy.

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