Is Rose ready to blos­som?

Dick’s dirt track­ers have a point to prove

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT - JAC­QUES VAN DER WESTHUYZEN

WITH the Spring­boks’ next Test against Italy in Udine next week, at­ten­tion will turn to the “mid­week team” from to­day as Dick Muir looks to cor­rect the wrongs from their first out­ing against Le­ices­ter a week ago.

The play­ers not in­volved in last night’s Test against France en­joyed a quite stren­u­ous train­ing ses­sion here yes­ter­day morn­ing, with the line-up for the match on Tues­day against Sara­cens set to be named on Mon­day.

Muir, who is in charge of the dirt-track­ers on this tour, is un­likely to make too many changes to the sec­ond string side, but there will, of course, be a new-look front row as all three starters against Le­ices­ter are back home af­ter sus­tain­ing in­juries in that match.

With no Jan­nie du Plessis, Chili­boy Rale­pelle and Gurthro Steenkamp to call on, Muir will have some think­ing to do be­fore nam­ing their re­place­ments.

Heinke van der Merwe and Ban­dise Maku look favourites to start along with Wian du Preez. It is not known where Van der Merwe will pack down.

He was picked for the tour as a tight­head prop, but in Le­ices­ter he played as a loose­head.

Newly-ar­rived CJ van der Linde may also be con­sid­ered.

Of course, with Italy up next week­end, Bok coach Peter de Vil­liers may rest some of his more ex­pe­ri­enced Test play­ers for that match, mean­ing many of the dirt-track­ers could play against Sara­cens and again a few days later in the Test match.

De Vil­liers and Muir will thus have to con­sider very care­fully who plays on Tues­day.

There have been whis­pers here this week that fol­low­ing Earl Rose’s im­pres­sive show­ing against Le­ices­ter he may come into con­tention for the Italy Test.

He will al­most cer­tainly play against Sara­cens, but will he again be out at full­back or will he be em­ployed at fly­half ?

If Rose per­forms well again on Tues­day he may be handed a spot on the bench next week­end.

Two other play­ers who may be vy­ing for Test spots this week are loose for­wards Ashley John­son and De­wald Pot­gi­eter.

Like Rose, if they shine against Sara­cens, De Vil­liers may give them a go against Italy.

With Rale­pelle out of the mix, Pot­gi­eter will likely take over the cap­taincy of the side on Tues­day.

For the rest, how­ever, the Sara­cens game will be an op­por­tu­nity to re­deem lost pride.

The pack suf­fered against Le­ices­ter’s scrum, while Ruan Pien­aar was far from con­vinc­ing at fly­half.

The out­side backs had lim­ited op­por­tu­ni­ties so will be keen to get an­other run to show the coach and their fans they’re good enough to be on this tour.

“Th­ese play­ers now have a chance to set the record right. We didn’t scrum well in Le­ices­ter and we also didn’t get num­bers to the break­downs. The backs, hav­ing few op­por­tu­ni­ties, didn’t put pres­sure on the op­po­si­tion when we kicked,” Muir said.

“This is go­ing to be a big game for the guys. Most of them will go home af­ter Tues­day’s game.But if some of them can play well and con­vince us they de­serve to stay be­hind, we will con­sider them,” he said.

The full squad will take to­day off be­fore de­part­ing for Lon­don to­mor­row.

GALLO IM­AGES

BUD­DING TAL­ENT: Earl Rose in action against Le­ices­ter Tigers a week ago

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