Teams for Loftus
No reason why desperate Boks shouldn’t win
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.