Teams for Lof­tus

No rea­son why des­per­ate Boks shouldn’t win

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE -

HIS­TORY tells us that the Springboks will beat the Wallabies to­day and end a three- match los­ing streak.

There can be no other out­come ... not when you fac­tor in that the Boks have won all pre­vi­ous meet­ings between the teams at Lof­tus Vers­feld and Morne Steyn and Bryan Ha­bana are still in the team to tackle the Aus­tralians.

The av­er­age score between the sides in Rugby Cham­pi­onship Tests at Lof­tus is 36- 18 in favour of the hosts.

Steyn is the lead­ing scorer, with 158 points and Ha­bana is the top try- scorer against the Wallabies with nine tries.

And, let’s not for­get that 64- Test vet­eran Steyn re­turns to the ground where he kicked the Bulls to many vic­to­ries and helped his coun­try reg­is­ter nu­mer­ous wins, in­clud­ing a match-win­ning penalty to se­cure the 2009 se­ries against the Bri­tish and Ir­ish Li­ons.

Every­thing points to a Bok win against the Wallabies to­day. But, his­tory doesn’t win Test matches and there are still a num­ber of ques­tions that South Africa have to an­swer if they’re to get up and end a mis­er­able month of losses.

Bok coach Al­lis­ter Coet­zee’s se­lec­tion of Steyn, ahead of El­ton Jan­tjies, smacks of des­per­a­tion. But then again, this is ex­actly what Coet­zee and his men are prob­a­bly feel­ing right now: des­per­ate.

Steyn has been asked to guide the Boks and to kick them into the right ar­eas of the field as well as man­age the backs and be the calm­ing in­flu­ence in a new- look back­line. He’s ca­pa­ble of do­ing all these things but he’s also hardly played any pres­sure- filled rugby in months.

It’s a big ask for the ex­preienced No 10 and you can be sure he’ll feel the pres­sure and weight of ex­pec­ta­tion.

Steyn’s pretty much been asked to be the “saviour” of Spring­bok rugby, but he’s not likely to be con­sid­ered good enough in a year’s time – not when Han­dre Pol­lard re­turns and Pat Lam­bie has had a few more games un­der the belt. And even once Jan­tjies has found his form in the Test arena.

Also, scrumhalf Rudy Paige has to do what Faf de Klerk hasn’t done and that’s kick the Boks into good ar­eas.

He, too, will feel the heat, this be­ing his first Test start. But what an op­por­tu­nity to make the No 9 jersey his own for the fore­see­able fu­ture if he pro­duces a per­for­mance many have been hop­ing to see from him for years. 15 Pat Lam­bie, 14 Bryan Ha­bana, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Juan de Jongh, 11 Fran­cois Hougaard, 10 Morne Steyn, 9 Rudy Paige; 8 War­ren White­ley, 7 Oupa Ma­hoje, 6 Fran­cois Louw, 5 Pi­eter-Steph du Toit, 4 Eben Etze­beth, 3 Vin­cent Koch, 2 Adri­aan Strauss (cap­tain), 1 Tendai Mtawarira. Bench: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Steven Kit­shoff, 18 Julian Redel­inghuys, 19 Lood de Jager, 20 Willem Al­berts, 21 Jaco Kriel, 22 Lionel Mapoe, 23 Wil­lie le Roux. 15 Is­rael Fo­lau, 14 Dane Haylett-Petty, 13 Samu Kerevi, 12 Bernard Fo­ley, 11 Reece Hodge, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Ge­nia, 8 Sean McMa­hon, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Dean Mumm, 5 Rob Sim­mons, 4 Adam Cole­man, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Stephen Moore (cap­tain), 1 Scott Sio. Bench (one to be omit­ted): 16 James Han­son, 17 James Slip­per, 18 Tom Robert­son, 19 Kane Dou­glas, 20 Scott Fardy, 21 Lopeti Ti­mani, 22 Nick Phipps, 23 Te­vita Kuridrani, 24 Sefa Naivalu. Kick­off: 5pm. Ref­eree: Wayne Barnes. TV: SS1.

Then there’s Lam­bie at full­back. Coet­zee has stated pick­ing the Sharks pivot in the last line of de­fence is far from a gam­ble, as Lam­bie has played over 50 Tests.

The only thing is he starts the game hav­ing played less than 40 min­utes since June, and he’s in a po­si­tion he’s played be­fore but will hardly feel wholly com­fort­able in.

The Boks are a des­per­ate lot, of that there is no doubt. They’ve lost three in a row and with the All Blacks ar­riv­ing next week, to­day is their big chance to end the los­ing run.

If they don’t win against a poor Wallaby team, the Boks could eas­ily spi­ral out of con­trol, with four away Tests com­ing up in Europe in Novem­ber.

Imag­ine what state Coet­zee and the Boks would be in head­ing over­seas in a lit­tle over a month’s time for matches against the Bar­bar­ians, Eng­land, Italy and Wales, and on the back of five straight de­feats?

They need to get it right to­day. Let’s for­get who’s wear­ing the Bok jumpers; ev­ery man must do his core ba­sics well and ex­e­cute prop­erly.

If they do that, then there’s no rea­son why the Boks shouldn’t win. They may be a side who are miss­ing sev­eral first- choice play­ers to in­jury and they may be un­der pres­sure, but man- for- man they are a bet­ter team than Michael Cheika’s troops.

Boks ... it’s time to re­store some pride in the jersey.

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