Bound to be a few one-on-one sideshows in today’s test
half position last year, without convincing in the Test arena, but then one’s got to wonder whether he was asked to play a style of rugby that didn’t suit him. He’s back for more in 2017, and again coming off a stellar season with the Lions in Super Rugby.
Jantjies is the leading points scorer in the competition – proof he is kicking excellently at goal – while the Lions are up there with the number of tries scored – also proof of how he’s contributed to his team-mates scoring plenty. With some deft touches, clever kicks into space and even kick-passes to his wings, Jantjies has shown he can be the master of his team. He must now do it at Test level, too.
Plisson, at 25 and with just 13 Tests behind him, is also still trying to become a French regular, but he has shown he is up for the big stage, having starred for Stade Francais for some years now.
At 1.84 m tall and weighing 92kg, Plisson is a big unit at No 10 and he’s sure to ask Jantjies to make a few tackles over the course of the 80 minutes.
It’s the battle of the No 8s – the key link-men between forwards and backs – and on one side it’s the new Bok skipper, and for France it’s their most experienced man this weekend, 31-year-old, 62-cap Picamoles.
Having played a good few Tests now Whiteley won’t be over-awed by the occasion of his leading the side for the first time, but he’ll be under pressure to make the right calls and to lead this new-look, rather inexperienced, side into new territory. He’ll tackle until the 80th minute, and he’ll run until he can’t move a muscle, so we know he’ll give it his everything.
His every move will be watched and analysed, especially as he’s seen as the glue that is supposed to bring together the rather unlikely flanker choice of Siya Kolisi and Oupa Mohoje, while he’s also up against a seasoned international in Picamoles.
The French veteran is a crafty operator who’s not only a big ball-carrier type No 8, he’s also pretty good on the ground.
This will be a key match-up, but not so much that the two players will actually go headto-head against each other – they’ll only do that at scrumtime – but rather in how they perform with their core duty of throwing the ball into the lineout.
Today’s Test will be Marx’s first in the No 2 jersey after playing off the bench last year, so he’ll be under pressure throughout the time he’s on the field. It’ll help though to settle the nerves and allow him to get into his stride ... and once he’s humming there’s likely to be no stopping him.
Marx is the real deal – he’s strong as a ball-carrier and he’s equally powerful on the ground – so expect a big allround showing. Where he’ll be key is finding his lineout jumpers, and there are a few to find – Etzebeth, Mostert, Mohoje and Whiteley. The good thing is he knows lineout caller Mostert extremely well.
Maynadier is, like Marx, still new to Test action and he, too, will be under pressure to find his jumpers and produce the kind of perform one has come to expect of French hookers in the past: robust and all-action.
WING WARRIORS: Raymond Rhule, left, makes his test debut against Fijian-born Virimi Vakatawa.