Is Rose ready to blossom?
Dick’s dirt trackers have a point to prove
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.
BUDDING TALENT: Earl Rose in action against Leicester Tigers a week ago