Headaches

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - WYNONA LOUW

There are a num­ber of tricky de­ci­sions Spring­bok coach Al­lis­ter Coet­zee has to make be­fore his team kick off their Rugby Cham­pi­onship cam­paign against Ar­gentina in Port Eliz­a­beth on Sat­ur­day. One of those dilem­mas is the loose trio. With reg­u­lar skip­per and No 8 War­ren White­ley in­jured, Coet­zee has one spe­cial­ist No 8 in the Sharks’ phys­i­cal Dan du Preez, while Chee­tahs loose for­ward Uzair Cassiem, although he can pack down at the back of the scrum, is pri­mar­ily a flanker.

Cassiem, who made his Spring­bok de­but against Wales last year af­ter pro­duc­ing fine out­ings for the Free State team, hasn’t reached the same heights this sea­son.

Dan’s twin brother, Jean-Luc du Preez, fea­tured at No 8 along with Siya Kolisi and Jaco Kriel in the loose trio for the Test in Jo­han­nes­burg in June, but it’s un­likely that Coet­zee will con­sider him there given the other two op­tions.

Kolisi, who was last week named as the Bok vice-cap­tain, at this point seems like the only cer­tain in­clu­sion in the back row, and although he was un­der­go­ing re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion for the an­kle in­jury he sus­tained dur­ing the Storm­ers’ Su­per Rugby quar­ter-fi­nal loss to the Chiefs, he has re­cov­ered well and took part in train­ing in the Friendly City last week.

The Storm­ers skip­per has been in scin­til­lat­ing form this sea­son, not only with his union, but also for the Boks dur­ing their se­ries white­wash over France in June.

Then there are Kriel, Jean-Luc du Preez and Oupa Mo­hoje.

In the Test in Dur­ban, Mo­hoje started at No 7, while Jean-Luc du Preez, who is a nat­u­ral No 7, re­placed him due to in­jury, so this time around the big ques­tion is whether Coet­zee will use Jean-Luc du Preez at No 7 – where he has been out­stand­ing this sea­son, or if Mo­hoje will get the start­ing nod again.

At full­back, the Lions’ An­dries Coet­zee, Bulls play­maker War­rick Ge­lant and Sharks star Cur­win Bosch of­fer de­cent op­tions, while Jesse Kriel can also play in the last line of de­fence.

How­ever, when the squad was an­nounced, Bosch was marked as fly­half.

Coet­zee im­pressed in the Bok No 15 jer­sey dur­ing the se­ries win against the French with his re­li­able boot and de­ci­sion-mak­ing, while he also added some fine at­tack­ing touches.

Ge­lant was good for the Bulls dur­ing Su­per Rugby, but stick­ing with Coet­zee as the start­ing op­tion seems like the most at­trac­tive one.

An­other po­si­tion that can be seen as a talk­ing point is the lock pair­ing and who will part­ner with cap­tain Eben Etze­beth.

Franco Mostert, has been sen­sa­tional for the Lions in Su­per Rugby this sea­son, while Pi­eterSteph du Toit strug­gled. An­other op­tion is Lood de Jager.

In the front row, it is un­clear when Tendai Mtawarira will get some ac­tion, his progress with re­gards to the neck in­jury he sus­tained is be­ing mon­i­tored by the Spring­bok staff.

Tight­head Frans Mal­herbe has an op­por­tu­nity to get into the start­ing line-up, while Coe­nie Oosthuizen and Trevor Nyakane are promis­ing prospects.

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